St. Elisabeth Catholic Church—Clergy Sexual Abuse in Van Nuys, CA

Clergy sexual abuse has far-reaching consequences, shaking the faith and changing the future of those who are victimized by it. Survivors experience post-traumatic symptoms like severe panic attacks and flashbacks, which can occur without warning. Sadly, some are so overcome by the effects of the abuse that they turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, and some even take their own lives. 

If you have suffered abuse at the hands of a clergy member, you are not alone. 

For decades, Boucher LLP has helped survivors of clergy sexual abuse take action against the institutions that enabled that abuse.We understand that coming forward is a tremendous step in survivors’ journeys toward healing. We honor the survivors and their wishes, listen to their stories, and do everything we can to secure justice on their behalf.

Background Information on Clergy Sexual Abuse in California

Chilling Church documents reveal that around 1986, Father Michael (“Mike”) Baker voluntarily informed church authorities he had committed sexual crimes against children. Following his disclosure, Father Mike was referred for a psychological evaluation in January 1987. The evaluator described him as a “pedophile,” noting that he had a “high risk of recidivism” were he to be allowed continued contact with his victims. 

In a March 1987 letter to the Reverend Thomas (“Tom”) Curry, Father Mike pointed out that the criminal statute of limitations for sexual abuse is five years. Father Mike encouraged the Church authorities to allow him to go on extended mission trips, perhaps to Mexico, trips he claimed had been a dream of his long before these possible legal issues.

Did the Reverend Tom Curry respond by forwarding the letter to the police? No. Instead, he used Church funds to pay for Father Mike to take a short sabbatical. He then gave multiple recommendations for Father Mike to continue his ministry at other parishes. He even recommended that Father Mike, a “talented man,” work closely with families. 

Rather than express any concern about the children Father Mike was continuing to sexually abuse, Reverend Curry instead focused his concerns on making sure Father Mike’s criminal actions did not get reported to authorities. In June 1987, Reverend Curry explained to Archbishop Mahoney his fear that if Father Mike continued therapy and “mention[ed] his problem with child abuse, it would put the therapist in the position of having to report him.” He advised Archbishop Mahoney to be “very careful about whom [Father Mike] goes to see and what kind of information is released into the program.” Less than a year later, Father Mike was assigned to St. Elisabeth Catholic Church, where he continued to sexually abuse young children—all under the “watchful eye” of the Archdiocese. 

The Church knowingly concealed Father Mike’s despicable actions from his parishioners for decades.

How Long Do I Have to File a Church Abuse Claim Against St. Elisabeth Catholic Church?

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often do not come forward for years—even decades—after they have been abused. They may stay silent because they received threats from the perpetrators and fear the consequences of reporting the abuse they suffered. Sadly, many blame themselves for what happened to them; it takes years before they realize it was not their fault. 

But California law provides survivors of clergy sexual abuse a lifeline. Survivors of clergy sexual abuse have 22 years after they turn 18 to file a church abuse claim. But all survivors from St. Elisabeth Catholic Church can file a claim against the Archdiocese until December 30, 2022, even if they are over 40 years old, thanks to a short “lookback” window provided by California’s statute of limitations. For this reason, it’s important to reach out to an attorney immediately to start your claim.  

This is especially important for those victimized by clergy sexual abuse at St. Elisabeth Catholic Church. The Archdiocese knew that Father Mike had committed—and would continue to commit—egregious acts against children. It did nothing. In fact, Archbishop Mahoney assigned Father Mike to St. Elisabeth Catholic Church, knowingly putting him in a position to do more harm to more children.

Boucher LLP—Relentless Advocates Successfully Fighting for Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors for Decades

At Boucher LLP, we seek to secure justice and restore our clients’ power and inner voice. We have heard hundreds of clergy sexual abuse survivors tell their stories. Our clients inspire us and give us hope, which we help restore within them as well. Our founder, Raymond Boucher, has practiced law for over 30 years, focusing his practice on complex and often high-profile plaintiff injury cases. He and the team had fought this battle before—and won.

If you or your loved one suffered abuse at the hands of a clergy member, don’t hesitate to call us today at 818-340-5400.