Rev. Mario Cimmarrusti, O.F.M.

Summary of Case: A priest of the Franciscan order, Cimmarrusti may have sexually abused more than 250 boys, ages 13-18, many of them at St. Anthony's Minor Seminary in Santa Barbara, CA in the 1960s and '70s. St. Anthony's appears to have been a breeding ground of sorts for sexually abusive Franciscans, some of whom were St. Anthony's graduates who went on as adult priests and brothers to perpetrate sexual abuse against St. Anthony's students. Cimmarrusti attended St. Anthony's in the 1940s. His roles in the '60s and '70s at St. Anthony's included prefect of discipline, head of the infirmary, teacher and choir assistant. Cimmarrusti is said to have targeted mostly Freshman students, requiring them to submit to his "examining" their genitalia for proper development, and hernia checks. He is said to have used embarrasment, humiliation and threats. His accusers describe violent spankings during which Cimmarrusti was clearly sexually aroused, after which he would pray for his victims while pressing their faces into his groin. They said he would then threaten them with eternal damnation. Two students say they went to rector Rev. Xavier Harris, o.f.m. in 1965 and 1966 to report their sexual abuse by Cimmarrusti. One of those two was expelled, the other said he was bribed by Harris to stay at St. Anthony's. Cimmarrusti went from St. Anthony's to work in Mexico for more than a decade. He was sent to treatment for alcoholism in 1981-1982. He was placed in parish ministry in the Stockton diocese, then the Fresno diocese, where he was a parish pastor. In 1993 Cimmarrusti was pulled from ministry after former St. Anthony's students began to emerge with accusations against him. He admitted to mental health professionals to sexually abusing hundreds of boys. His attorney in May 2012 stated that Cimmarrusti denied all accusations.

Ordained
: 1957


   

Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State/Country Position Notes

1957

Santa Barbara Provincial was Rev. David Temple, o.f.m. (1952-1961)

Tucson bishop was Daniel James Gercke (1923- 1960)

1958 Immaculate Conception (St. Mary's) Phoenix AZ 5/6 Immaculate Conception had a school with 270 boys and 265 girls.

1958

Temple was succeeded as Santa Barbara Provincial by Rev. Terence Cronin, o.f.m. (1961-1967).

Portland archbishop was Edward Daniel Howard (1926-1966)

1965 St. Francis Minor Seminary Troutdale OR

3/4, 3/5, 3/6, 3/7

Rev. Kevin Murphy, o.f.m. was Rector, Rev. Claude Riffel, o.f.m. was Rector of Discipline, Cimmarrusti was in the third spot. Rev. Venard Crittenden, o.f.m. is listed fourth 1958-1961, replaced by Rev. Christian Mondor, o.f.m. 1961-1965. Mondor was Religious Superior 1964-1965. Rev. Alberic Smith, o.f.m. is the fifth priest listed 1962-1964, replaced by Rev. Dunstan Dunphy, o.f.m. in 1964-1965. Rev. Mel Bucher, o.f.m. was the sixth priest 1963-1964. In 1964-1965 Revs. Roland Franz, o.f.m. and Meric Beltrami, o.f.m. were the sixth and seventh priests listed, respectively.

 

Riffel was accused in 2009 of sexually abusing a boy at St. Francis in the early 1960s.

Bucher was later accused of abuse in the 1960s and '70s.

1965

Cronin was followed as Santa Barbara Provincial by Rev. Alan McCoy, o.f.m. (1967-1976).

Los Angeles archbishop was James Francis Aloysius McIntyre (1948-1970), followed by Timothy Manning (1970-1985)

1970 St. Anthony's Minor Seminary

Santa Barbara

Cimmarrusti has been accused of sexually abusing many boys at St. Anthony's. By 2012 two dozen former students had come forward with accusations agains him. In a 2004 lawsuit, Cimmarrusti is said to have "screened" students to see if they were vulnerable to abuse by initially fondling them, then targeting for further abuse those who showed embarrassment or arousal. He is said to have silenced these boys by holding their responses over them. Cimmarrusti is accused of telling at least two boys they were overweight and sexually assaulting them after ordering them to come to his room for weigh-ins and so he could and check their thyroid glands. He reportedly ordered students to his room for "hernia exams", found "medical reasons" to rub lotions on students genitals, and dried students off after baths. He is accused of sexually assaulting students who were ill in the infirmary, and during counseling. He is accused of ordering students to strip from the waist down, to bend over his lap, and to endure violent spankings for 10 to 20 minutes. These accusers reported it was clear that Cimmarrusti was sexually aroused as they were being beaten. They described their faces then being pressed into Cimmarrusti's groin as he prayed for them. He is said to have often told the boys they would go to hell if they told.

CA

Prefect of Discipline, choir assistant, teacher, head of the school infirmary

Rector was Rev. Xavier J. Harris, o.f.m. 1965-1970, Guardian 1965-1968 was Rev. Peter Krieg, o.f.m., and Rev. Forrest McDonald 1968-1970. McDonald was at the seminary 1965-1970. Other priests and brothers at St. Anthony's were Thaddeus Kreye, o.f.m., Ralph Weishaar, o.f.m 1965-1967, Floyd Lotito, o.f.m. 1965-1967, Stanley Caspary, o.f.m. 1965-1970, Joachim Hulings, o.f.m. 1965-1970, Severin Baumann, o.f.m. 1965-1968, Nevin Ford, o.f.m. 1965-1967, Marin Woelffer, o.f.m. 1965-1966, Benne Sisk, o.f.m. 1965-1966, Mario Gates 1965-1966. Also, Juan Leon, o.f.m. 1966-1967, Meric Beltrami, o.f.m. 1967-1969, Roland Franz 1967-1968, Richard Ochiltree, C.Ss.R. 1967-1968, Gino Piccoli, o.f.m. 1967-1970, Alberic Smith, o.f.m. 1967-1970, Anthony Turner, o.f.m. 1967-1968, Larry Dunphy, o.f.m. 1968-1970, Marc Orland 1968-1969, Otto Schlumpf 1968-1970.

Cimmarrusti is indexed in the 1971-1974 Directories as at St. Anthony's, but is not listed as there in the Los Angeles archdiocesan pages.

McDonald was named as a perpetrator in 2008 and 2009 lawsuits.

The St Anthony's faculty are said to have allowed Cimmarrusti to perform physical "examinations" on Freshman students after he expressed concern during a faculty meeting in 1965 or 1966 that some students seemed to have undescended testicles, among other physical signs of underdevelopment. Cimmarrusti had no medical background. At least three St. Anthony's students at the time, Robert Van Handel, David Johnson, and Gus Krumm, went on to become Franciscans and perpetrators.

One of Cimmarrusti's accusers stated he went to the rector, Rev. Xavier Harris o.f.m., in 1965 to report attempted rape by Cimmarrusti. The student was expelled. Another former student is said to have gone to Harris in 1966 to report he was being beaten and sexually abused weekly by Cimmarrusti, and that he wanted to leave the school. Harris is said to have told the boy he imagined the abuse, to have tried to bribe the boy to stay, then to have threatened him when the boy refused the bribes. Some of Cimmarrusti's accusers tell of other priests and brothers walking in on Cimmarrusti during incidents of abuse, then walking out without intervening.

1970

Santa Barbara provincial was Rev. John Vaughn, o.f.m. (1976-1979), followed by Rev. Louis Vitale, o.f.m. (1979-1988)

1981 Mexican Missions Guaymas Sonora, Mexico missionary at a medical dispensary Per words written for Cimmarrusti's 50th anniversary as a Franciscan priest, he was in Mexico for twelve years. The 1979 and 1980 Directories index him as "Mexican Missions, U.S.A.: California, Arizona. He is not indexed in the 1981 or 1982 Directories.
Oct. 1981 Nov. 1981 Hazelden Foundation Center City MN patient Assessment and treatment for alcoholism.
Nov. 2, 1981 Jan. 26, 1982 Servants of the Paraclete, St. Michael's Therapeutic Community St. Louis MO patient Assessment and treatment for alcoholism.

1982

 

Stockton bishop was Roger Michael Mahony (1980-1985)

 

1985 St. Mary of the Assumption Stockton CA

2/5, 2/4

Cimmarrusti worked under pastors Rev. Ruper Hannar, o.f.m. 1983-1983, and Rev. Ignatius DeGroot, o.f.m. 1983-1985. Third priest 1982-1985 was James Kyrie, o.f.m. Listed fourth and in residence 1982-1985 was Rev. Sebastian Drake, o.f.m. Also in residence, and in the fifth spot 1982-1984 was Rev. Fernando Villalobos, o.f.m.

 

 

 

 

 


Villalobos
was accused in 2003 of sexually abusing a boy beginning in 1980, when the boy was 12-15 years old.

1985

Vitale was replaced as Santa Barbara Provincial by Rev. Joseph Chinnici (1988-1997)

Fresno bishop was Jose de Jesus Madera Uribe, M.Sp.S. (1980-1991), followed by John Thomas Steinbock (1991-2010)

1993 Our Lady of Guadalupe Delano CA

1/2, 1/1

Assisting Cimmarusti were Rev. James Kyrie, o.f.m. 1985-1986, Rev. William Sisk, o.f.m. 1986-1987, and Rev. Pedro Umana, o.f.m. 1989-1991.

Cimmarrusti is not indexed beyond the 1993 Directory.

Nine young men came forward with accusations against Cimmarrusti during a 1993 investigation by the Franciscans of
"possible past sexual misconduct" at St. Anthony's Minor Semniary in Santa Barbara.

During a Nov. 1993 psychological examination in Seattle, WA, Cimmarrusti stated he may have molested 250 13-15 year-old boys, which didn't include those he acknowledged he had molested who were 16-18 years-old. He was assessed to be "at-risk to reoffend with minor males", as well as engaging in dangerous compulsive sexual acting out with adult males and voyeurism. He acknowledged during another 1993 psychological exam to have a habit of exposing himself.

In 1992 the mother of a Cimmarrusti accuser who had been a St. Anthony's student described her family's anguish in a letter to the Franciscan Provincial.

1993

Rev. Finian McGinn, o.f.m. succeeded Chinnici as Santa Barbara provincial (1997-2003), followed by Rev. Melvin A. Jurisich, o.f.m. (2003-2009), then Rev. John Hardin, o.f.m. (2009-)

Oakland bishop was John Stephen Cummins (1977-2003), succeeded by Allen Henry Vigneron (2003-2009), then Salvatore Joseph Cordileone (2009-)

2013     CA  

Cimmarrusti told a reporter in 2004 that he "recalled no inappropriate behavior", but added , "I could have done this and I didn't realize it at the time." In May 2012 Cimmarrusti's attorney stated that the priest denied all allegations against him.

Cimmarrusti was last known to be living at a retreat house in Danville, CA.

Died November 23, 2013.

 

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1958-1993)

Sexual Deviancy Evaluation of Cimmarrusti , Dec. 9, 1993
Sex-Abuse Plaintiff Speaks Out, By Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, Record [Stockton CA], November 15, 2003
Cimmarrusti's personnel file, Bates #0810
John Roe 4 vs. Does, Cause No. 1156450, Superior Court of California
Los Angeles archdiocese report, Feb. 17, 2004
Suit brings clergy abuse allegations into the light, By Thomas Schultz, Santa Barbara News-Press, September 27, 2004
'Painful Memories', By Melissa Evans, Santa Barbara News-Press [California], February 26, 2006
Attorneys Work on Accord in Seminary Abuse Cases, By Jean Guccione, Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2006
L.A. Times Database, April 20, 2006
Franciscans Settle, By Martha Sadler, The Santa Barbara Independent [California], August 10, 2006
Pedophile Priests Lose Privacy Rights, By Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent, June 21, 2007
Abuse Was Common in Religious Orders, By Jeremy Herb and Rob Dennis, San Jose Mercury News, April 1, 2008
First Amended Complaint in Cunningham v. Franciscans, Cause No. 1265207, Santa Barbara Superior Court, CA, Aug. 6, 2008
Oregon Firm Files Abuse Lawsuits against Churches, Associated Press, carried in OregonLive, February 11, 2009
Ernesto C. v. Franciscans, Cause No. 1337577, Santa Barbara Co. Superior Court, Oct. 5, 2009
Clover v. Franciscans, Cause No. 1338070, Santa Barbara Co. Superior Court 11.3.09
Opinion in John Doe 1 ET Al. V. Franciscan Friars of California, Inc., Court of Appeal of the State of California, September 30, 2010
Court of Appeal Upholds Order Releasing Priests’ Records, Metropolitan News-Enterprise, October 2, 2010
Cimmarrusti's personnel file, OFM CIMM 1 0327, 1 0384, OFM ClMM 1 0386
Franciscan Order's Files Tell Systemic Abuse Story, By Gillian Flaccus, San Antonio Express-News, May 23, 2012
Franciscan Clergy Sex-Abuse Case Records Released, Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2012
Roman Catholic Church Abuse Files Released in Unprecedented Move, CBS Los Angeles, May 23, 2012
Franciscan Files Expose Details of Sex Abuse against Minors, By Luiza Oleszczuk, Christian Post, May 24, 2012
Assignment Records of Certain Accused Priests in the Archdiocese of Portland OR , BishopAccountability.org
Sacred Monsters, By Sam Slovick, Mission & State, July 15, 2013


Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Cimmarrusti's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Dec. 8, 2013


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