St Alphonsus Catholic Church—Clergy Sexual Abuse in East Los Angeles, CA

Thinking about telling your story of childhood sexual abuse can be overwhelming. The attorneys at Boucher LLP have dedicated their practice to helping survivors of church sexual abuse bring the institutions that enable the abuse to justice and retake control of their lives. Our clients have told us time and time again of the shame and embarrassment they have carried throughout their lives. We aim to support you, hold the Church and Archdiocese accountable, and provide you with a new path to healing.

Clergy Sexual Abuse at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church

George Neville Rucker served as associate pastor of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Los Angeles from November 1946 to October 1951. The St. Alphonsus parish is the only Catholic Church in East Los Angeles. It founded its school in 1945. Since then, more than 40 survivors have come forward to tell their stories of abuse at the hands of Father Rucker. 

One of the earliest reports was made in 1967. Police investigated Rucker but did not find evidence to corroborate the complaint. Despite the complaint, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not remove Rucker from the ministry. Instead, the Archdiocese moved Rucker to Holy Trinity parish, allowing him to have continued contact with children. Rucker retired in 1987 but remained in residence at Corpus Christi Parish as Pastor Emeritus. 

In 2002, a survivor of Rucker’s abuse wrote a letter to the Archdiocese. She told her story and reported that she had met Rucker on a cruise where he was working as a chaplain. The Archdiocese responded by moving Rucker to a residence for retired priests and prohibiting him from engaging in public ministry. After more survivors sued the Archdiocese, the Archbishop Cardinal Mahony asked Rucker to make a voluntary petition seeking laicization or dismissal from the priesthood. He refused to do so. Thus, in March 2008, Pope Benedict XVI officially dismissed Rucker from the clerical state. He is no longer allowed to perform the sacraments or claim to be a priest. Nor will the Archdiocese allow him to be buried in the priests’ cemetery.

You can find more information about the allegations against Rucker and the Church’s response in this document from the Clergy Files. As a warning, this document contains explicit details of childhood sexual assault.

Survivors from St. Alphonsus Catholic Church Start To Speak Out

Since 1990, Rucker has admitted responsibility for at least one case of child molestation while serving as a parish priest. In 2002, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested Rucker while on a cruise to Alaska. They charged him with 23 counts of lewd conduct with a child. Unfortunately, the supreme court dismissed the criminal case against Rucker because the statute of limitations had run. The statute of limitations controls the time you have to file a civil suit against an abuser and or the institutions that enabled the abuse. 

In 2019, California recognized that many survivors do not connect their psychological struggles with the abuse they endured until adulthood. With the enactment of new legislation, survivors have 22 years after reaching the age of majority (their 40th birthday) to file a civil sexual abuse claim. If you discover a psychological injury or illness caused by the abuse after that time, you have five years from the discovery to file a suit. In addition, California opened a three-year window for any survivor of child sexual abuse to file a lawsuit. This window is set to close on December 31, 2022.

We Can Help You Make a Church Abuse Claim

Survivors have slowly begun to come forward and tell their stories of clergy sexual abuse at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. Ray Boucher and his team have helped over 300 survivors file suits against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for its role in enabling and covering up sexual abuse by predators such as Rucker. In 2007, our team secured one of the largest settlements paid by the Archdiocese for our clients. As part of that settlement, the Archdiocese had to release the personnel files on the accused priests. These documents show the Archdiocese’s role in silencing survivors’ claims and allowing the abuse to continue.

When you are ready to make your claim, Ray and the passionate attorneys at Boucher LLP will be there to help. We understand the impact of the abuse on your life. We will work with you to secure an outcome that brings you closure and peace.