Rev. Eric Swearingen

Summary of Case: In 2002 Swearingen was briefly placed on leave after he was accused in a lawsuit of abusing a teenage altar boy at Our Lady Of Guadalupe in Bakersfield 1989-93. The diocese deemed the allegation not credible. He was allowed to return to ministry in November 2002 after the District Attorney's office did not pursue criminal charges, citing no evidence and no witnesses. In December 20, 2006 there was a mistrial in the civil case due to a split decision: the jury ruled Swearingen did likely abuse the boy, but that the diocese did not have prior knowledge. The suit required both claims to be true. The case went to binding arbitration in May 2007 - decision was to be secret. Swearingen was named rector of a diocesan high school in December 2007. In June 2014 he was named pastor of the Catholic Church of Visalia, also called Good Shepherd, which was comprised of four merged parishes. Swearingen was placed on leave June 5, 2019 due to new information from the 2006 civil case. He was reportedly ill with brain cancer. He died January 18, 2020, age 58.

Ordained: 1987
Died: January 18, 2020

Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Fresno bishop was Jose de Jesus Madera Uribe (1980-1991)


Our Lady of Guadalupe



Accused in 2002 of having molested an altar boy, while at this and another parish, over several years, when the boy was 12-15 years old. (Fresno Bee
December 6, 2006)



Pastor was Rev. Alfonso Simon (Spain). Third priest 1987-1988 was Ignacio Pelayo (Mexico), replaced by Lucas Espericueta (Mexico) 1988-1989.

Parish had a school with 210-189 students. Swearingen was Principal.
1987 1989 Holy Spirit Bakersfield CA   Holy Spirit was a mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
1987 1989 St. Jude 's Bakersfield CA  

St. Jude was a mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

1989 1990 Our Lady of Victory





Pastor was Msgr. J. Wayne Hayes. Third priest was Ricardo Magdaleno.

Parish had a school with 255 students.


Uribe was replaced as Fresno bishop by John Thomas Steinbock (1991- )

1992 St. Alphonsus


Accused in 2002 of having molested an altar boy, while at this and another parish, over several years, when the boy was 12-15 years old. (Associated Press, carried in San Luis Obispo Tribune
November 30, 2006)


1/1, 1/2

Rector. Rev. Stephen A. Frost was in residence 1991-1992.


1990 1992 St. John Vianney House Fresno CA


Rev. David A. Brum was Director. Swearingen was Spiritual Director.

St. John Vianney was a Diocesan House of Formation. There were 10-9 students.
1992 1999 St. Helen's Fresno CA


From 1995-1997 Revs. Stephen Frost and Joseph Hoan (Vietnam) were in residence. They were replaced 1997-1999 by Revs. Joseph Nguyen (Vietnam) and Jerry Amerando.

St. Helen's had a school with 240-269 students, and a religious education program with 350-215 students.


1999 2001 St. Peter's Lemoore CA 1/1 St. Peter's had a school with 243 students, and a religious education program with 444-345 students.
1999 2001 St. Joseph's Stratford CA   St. Joseph's was a mission of St. Peter's.
1999 2001 St. Rosa Tache Indian Reservation CA   St. Rosa's was a mission of St. Peter's.
2001 2014 Holy Spirit Fresno CA 1/1

Holy Spirit had a religious education program with 350-770 students.

Holy Spirit had two missions and Shaver Lake was a Holy Spirit station.

Swearingen was suspended briefly in 2002 due to an accusation of abuse of an altar boy 1989-93. No criminal charges. Deemed not credible by the diocese. The alleged victim filed a civil suit. It was dismissed in 2006. The civil trial jury said Swearingen likely abused the plaintiff, but the judge declared a mistrial because jurors could not agree as to whether or not the diocese knew of the abuse.       

According to the Holy Spirit website, Swearingen remained pastor in 2008.

2001 2002 St. Agnes Pinedale CA   St. Agnes was a mission of Holy Spirit in Fresno.
2001 2007 Infant Jesus of Prague Tollhouse CA  

Parish was a mission of Holy Spirit in Fresno.


2002 2007 Diocesan Consultors        
2002 2007 Vicars Forane        
2002 2007 Diocesan Personnel Committee        
2002 2007 Priests' Council        
2008   San Juaquin Memorial High School Fresno CA


(Mercury News
December 28, 2007)

 2014 2019  Good Shepherd/Catholic Church of Visalia  Visalia  CA  Pastor

This was four merged parishes: Holy Family, St. Charles Borromeo, Nativity of the BVM, St. Mary. 

Swearingen was placed on leave in June 2019 due to new information about the 2006 civil case. He died January 18, 2020.      

Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1988-2007).

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 shorthandclass="sytyle3" 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 & 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 was last updated February 24, 2021.


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