Saint Joseph Catholic Church—Clergy Sexual Abuse in Placentia, CA

In the early 2000s, survivors of childhood sexual assault came forward with a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The case resulted in the Archdiocese releasing personnel files on hundreds of priests accused of church sexual abuse. In addition to detailing the survivors’ complaints, the files reveal that church leaders covered up and silenced their stories. 

Eleuterio “Big Al” Ramos was one of those priests. You can view the files on Ramos here. The media dubbed him the “King of County Pedophiles” because he admitted to abusing over 25 boys and girls. Ramos’s personnel file revealed the Church received complaints of Ramos’s behavior as early as 1968. Regardless, the Archdiocese placed him as associate pastor at St. Joseph parish and school from March 1975 to July 1978.

Details of the Clergy Sexual Abuse at Saint Joseph Catholic Church

Ramos’s Latino parishioners thought he understood their needs. He had a part in making the Virgin of Guadalupe the patron saint of the Orange Diocese. However, he was known for drinking and fighting at local bars. He would scream at the culprit if anyone acted up during mass. The altar boys liked him because he was bearded, boisterous, cussed, and told dirty jokes. They considered him one of them—the hip, cool, Chicano priest. 

He would give servers altar wine in the sacristy after mass. In the rectory, he provided them with vodka screwdrivers, wine coolers, beer, firecrackers, cigarettes, and Playboy magazines. He took them on field trips to Camelot, the miniature golf course and arcade in Anaheim. He fondled them in the theater when they went to see R-rated movies. He planned vacations to Big Bear Lake, San Diego, Dallas, and Tijuana, where he molested them in motel rooms, cars, and cabins.

Survivors report that his favorite thing to do was oral fellatio, finishing with a gargle of Listerine. He would play gay porn on an eight-millimeter projector or offer a Star Wars toy to distract the boy while he performed the act. He also invited strange adults and other priests to molest the boys while he took pictures.

In 2003, Ramos admitted to the police the details of his abuse of five boys and alluded to abusing at least 20 more. He died from diabetes complications in 2004.

Cover-ups Form the Basis of a Church Abuse Claim

One survivor committed suicide in 2015, decades after he endured Ramos’s abuse at St. Joseph. His wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against St. Joseph Catholic Church, St. Joseph Catholic School, the Archbishop Of Los Angeles, and the Bishop Of Orange. The lawsuit alleges  these institutions knew of the abuse and did nothing to stop it. 

Ramos’s assignment at St. Joseph came after 10 years of sexual abuse allegations, culminating in a four month stint at a Massachusetts rehabilitation center for pedophilia. Instead of warning the parish of Ramos’s dangerous proclivities or reporting him to the police, the Archdiocese told the parish Ramos was receiving treatment for alcoholism. As the complaints of abuse continued, Ramos attended ongoing psychotherapy to maintain his priestly assignment. 

The Dioceses of Orange eventually sent Ramos to Tijuana, Mexico, in 1985. In writing to the Bishop of the Tijuana Diocese, Michael Driscoll, Auxiliary Bishop for the Orange Diocese, said he deeply regretted Ramos’s problems. Another bishop for the Orange Diocese, William Johnson, called the Tijuana Diocese and begged them to take Ramos. Despite these warnings, Tijuana Bishop Emilio Berlie placed Ramos in children’s ministry soon thereafter. Although they barred him from ministering in the Diocese, Ramos continued to visit Orange County to officiate weddings and other sacraments, allowing Ramos access to the children serving as altar boys at those services.

Boucher LLP: Helping Survivors of Church Sexual Abuse

We understand the pain you feel after enduring childhood sexual abuse. The attorneys at Boucher LLP have dedicated their practice to helping survivors of clergy sexual abuse get justice. Although Ramos died without being prosecuted, you have the opportunity to stop ongoing cover-ups and abuse. By telling your story, you empower others to come forward and expose the church leaders who enabled abusers like Ramos. Our experienced, compassionate professionals will work to achieve justice so you can move forward with your healing journey. Contact us today.