Mostly clear

Monsignor Alzugaray consistently denied he abused girl 40 years ago

  • 9/14/2007: A1: Bishop Daniel Walsh
    11/21/2006: A1: BISHOP DANIEL WALSH: Leader of Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese says the best result of his case's outcome will be raising awareness for others to report sex abuse of children.
    8/13/2006: A1: BISHOP DANIEL WALSH: On his delay in notifying authorities of an alleged abuse, he wrote, ``If I am found guilty for not taking immediate action, I will accept whatever punishment is imposed.''
    6/25/2006: A1: Bishop Daniel Walsh
    6/22/2006: A8:
    10/23/2005: A1: In 2000, Bishop Daniel Walsh took over a financially struggling diocese reeling from unresolved molestation cases and his predecessor's sex scandal.
    PC: Seocndary/2 of 2 -- Catholic Bishop Daniel Walsh spoke in his Santa Rosa office on Friday October 7, 2005. The Press Democrat/John Burgess

Bishop Daniel Walsh has rejected the recommendation of his own advisory panel and refused to remove a Napa priest accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a grade-school-age girl more than 40 years ago.

The seven-member Diocesan Review Board spent two years investigating abuse charges by Erin Brady, now 51, against Monsignor Joseph Alzugaray, pastor of St. Apollinaris Church in Napa.

In October, the board recommended to the bishop that Alzugaray be removed from ministry, according to Brady and diocesan sources.

But in January, Walsh notified the review board that he had decided against their recommendation and would keep Alzugaray in active ministry at St. Apollinaris, where he continues to serve.

Walsh, interviewed Friday in the parking lot of the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese chancery, refused to comment on his decision, citing the confidential nature of the review board.

"I will not comment on my decision," he said. "If I start reporting on what was discussed, the confidentiality will not be helped."

When asked whether or not the parishioners of St. Apollinaris had a right to know what the review board had recommended, Walsh said, "I will not comment on that."

Walsh's decision to keep Alzugaray in ministry comes at a time when the Catholic sex abuse scandal is spreading throughout Europe. Critics say Pope Benedict XVI, in earlier roles, failed to remove abusing priests despite compelling evidence brought to his attention.

Alzugaray has repeatedly denied the charges against him.

But in a 2003 civil lawsuit, Brady, the only person who has publicly brought allegations against Alzugaray, claimed that from "approximately 1967 through approximately 1970, Joseph Alzugaray engaged in unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual conduct and contact" with her. The details of the alleged abuse were also documented in a 2002 Monrovia Police Department report.

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