The Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa has settled a lawsuit against a Lake County priest accused of sexually abusing a boy in his parish in the 1980s and 1990s.
Diocese officials on Tuesday confirmed the case involving the Rev. Ted Oswald had been settled in late February, but would not divulge the terms of the settlement.
A phone call to Bishop Daniel Walsh for comment was not returned. Diocese attorney Dan Galvin said neither he nor the bishop would answer questions about the case.
Oswald was the 17th priest in the Santa Rosa diocese to have been accused of sexual molestation, church officials have said. They also have acknowledged paying nearly $25 million to an undisclosed number of people who asserted they were molested by at least six priests. Most victims were preteen boys when the incidents were alleged to have occurred.
The civil lawsuit was filed last year by Christopher Griego of Tracy. It did not specify what Oswald was accused of doing, only that sexual abuse allegedly occurred between 1988 and 1995 while Oswald was serving at St. Mary Immaculate Church in Lakeport and Griego was a young parishioner.
Oswald has not served as a priest since the civil lawsuit was filed last summer, diocesan spokeswoman Deirdre Frontczak said. "He's not in active ministry anywhere," she said.
Griego's attorney, Richard Simons of Hayward, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. As of Tuesday, a notice of settlement of the case had not been posted to the civil case file in Sonoma County Superior Court.
Griego's lawsuit claimed the priest's actions caused "emotional distress, psychological harm and injury to his mental and physical health."
It originally was filed in Sonoma County Superior Court in 2007 but did not name Oswald until last year. The complaint also named the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa, which oversees the Lakeport parish, for allegedly failing to protect Griego. The lawsuit also contended the diocese failed to intervene.
Oswald's parishioners reacted to the lawsuit with shock and disbelief. They said Oswald had befriended Griego, got the boy odd jobs around the rectory and would help him out financially. He helped Griego purchase his first vehicle, and when the truck was lost, possibly to repossession, Oswald gave him one of his own cars, a 1986 Camaro, they said.
The statute of limitations had run out on Griego's civil case, but Simons has said there are exceptions that apply in cases of recalled memories.
He said his client was cognizant of what happened to him as a boy, but only realized in the past three years that the alleged abuse was causing him ongoing psychological, physical and financial problems.
It's too late to file criminal charges, Simons noted.
In addition to being a priest, Oswald had been a chaplain for the Lakeport Police Department and Lake County Sheriff's Office. He is a former police officer and a Vietnam veteran.
He was ordained a priest in Rome in 1984, after which he was assigned to St. Mary of the Angels Catholic Church in Ukiah. He moved to Lake County four years later.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@
Measure A at a glance
The only countywide issue in the March 7 special election, which will cost the county $400,000.
A business tax proposed by the county, paid by cultivators and manufacturers, to initially generate $6.3 million annually to cover the cost of implementing regulations for the crop.
If the tax fails, the July 1 start date for accepting applications for cannabis business permits may be abandoned.
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