Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa on Saturday disclosed the names of 39 priests and deacons with ties to the diocese who church leaders say committed child sexual abuse or were credibly accused of such crimes, a disclosure that marks the most comprehensive acknowledgment to date of the decades-long scope of the clergy abuse scandal in the local Catholic church.
Two former Sonoma Valley priests are on the list: Francisco Xavier Ochoa and John Crews.
Francisco Xavier Ochoa
Francisco Xavier Ochoa was an assistant pastor at St. Francis Solano Church on West Napa Street in the 1980s and again from 2000 to 2006.
Ochoa died in Mexico in 2009 at age 71. He fled the U.S. for Mexico in 2006 several days after a meeting with the Santa Rosa Diocese in which he admitted that he offered a boy $100 to strip dance in front of him and that he had kissed other boys on the lips.
After the meeting, Ochoa was removed from his duties, but the diocese delayed in reporting the allegations to authorities. A subsequent police investigation revealed that Ochoa had allegedly molested multiple children from different families.
In documents disclosed after a warrant was issued for Ochoa’s arrest, investigators said that the priest also brought a 15-year-old boy - now an adult - from Mexico and installed him in his diocese-owned residence where the two engaged in regular, sometimes violent, sex.
“If (the victim) refused to cooperate with Ochoa, Ochoa would violently rape him,” wrote Sonoma County Sheriff’s Detective Ruben Martinez in 2006. The victim estimated Ochoa had sex with him two to three times a week for approximately one year. He told authorities that he did not know how to get Ochoa to stop.
The Santa Rosa Diocese was sued by families of Ochoa’s victims and in September 2007 the diocese settled the case for $5 million.
John Crews resigned as executive director of the Hanna Boys Center in 2013 following an allegation of sexual misconduct with a boy in the 1970s, prior to his arrival in Sonoma in 1984.
His resignation, which shocked Sonoma residents at the time, stemmed from a complaint brought by relatives of the alleged victim, who is deceased.
At the time of Crews’ resignation, Vasa said that the diocese followed church and legal requirements in Crews’ case and he described Crews, who was 67 at the time, as handling the resignation “very graciously.”
Crews was allowed to remain a priest in the diocese until he retired, but would “not serve in any other public ministry,” the bishop said.
Prior to his work at the Hanna center, Crews served as a parish priest at St. Sebastian Church in Sebastopol and St. Joseph Church in Cotati, and also served briefly as an administrator at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa.
Vasa said at the time of Crews’ resignation that no other allegations against Crews were contained in diocese records.
Crews did not admit to any misconduct, according to Hanna officials, contacted about the case in 2013.
Vasa’s list, made public to about 140,000 parishioners as well as the media over the weekend, includes many well-known names long public due to high-profile molestation cases as well as several previously unknown — most of them accused for offenses committed several decades ago.
A third: Thomas Parker
A priest who was only in Sonoma for a short time also appeared on Bishop Vasa’s list. Father Thomas Parker was ordained in Santa Rosa in 1985 and worked as a priest at St. Francis Solano Church in 1990. He is accused of misdeeds in 1988-89 at St. Apollinaris parish in Napa, which related to a boy in the parish. A settlement was reached with the victim’s family in 2007. Church officials said that Parker also worked at St. James in Petaluma (1991-1992), St. Patrick in Scotia (1992-1995). He was defrocked in 2008.