Assignment Record – Rev. Gary B. Tollner

Summary of Case: A priest of the Oakland diocese, Tollner has been accused of sexually abusing at least six children. In 1982 his sister-in-law reported that he had sexually abused her mentally retarded young adult son who had the mind of a twelve year-old. Bishop Cummins was informed of this, and of the fact that parishioners were complaining that Tollner was engaged in "suspicious behavior" with young boys involving alcohol and drugs and a hot tub Tollner had installed on the rectory roof. Tollner was kept in ministry. He was sent to St. Luke's Institute in Maryland for treatment in 1985, but refused to stay. In 1987 a man reported that Tollner began to sexually abuse him in 1966 when the man was 11 years old, and that the abuse continued into adulthood. From 1985 to 1995 Tollner was allowed to reside at a parish, which had a school, and to hold several Chancery positions. He died in 1999.

: 1961
Died: Feb. 17, 1999


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


San Francisco archbishop was John Joseph Mitty (1935-1961). The archdiocese split, and Oakland was established in 1962.

Oakland bishop was Floyd Lawrence Begin (1962-1977)

1966 St. John the Baptist El Cerrito CA 2/3, 2/2 St. John's had a school with 244-214 boys and 229-248 girls.
1966 1971 St. Lawrence O'Toole


In 1987 a man reported that Tollner sexually abused him at St. Lawrence's, beginning in 1966 when he was 11 years old and continuing into adulthood.

CA 2/3 St. Lawrence's had a school with 199-166 boys and 198-169 girls.
1971 1973 Santa Maria Orinda CA 2/2, 3/3 Santa Maria's had a school with 116-101 boys and 139-123 girls.


Begin was succeeded by John Stephen Cummins (1977-2003)

1985 St. Philip Neri


In 1982 Tollner's sister-in-law reported that the priest had sexually abused her 22 year-old developmentally disabled son, who's mental age was 12. Diocesan Chancellor, Rev. George Crespin, notified Bishop Cummins of the allegation. Crespin also told the bishop of reports by parishioners that Tollner was engaged in "suspicious behavior" with young boys involving alcohol and drugs and a hot tub that Tollner had installed on the rectory roof.

CA 2/2, 1/2, 1/3

St. Philip's had a school with 263-293 students.

In 1985 Tollner was sent to St. Luke's Institute in Maryland for treatment. He refused to stay.

In 2005 Crespin was accused of molesting a boy in the mid-1970s. Crespin denied the accusation and the diocesan review board found "insufficient evidence" against him.

1985 1995 St. Theresa of the Infant Jesus

Oakland CA 2/2, 3/3 In residence. St. Theresa's had a school with 246-280 students.
1985 1999 Propogation of the Faith Oakland CA Director  
1985 1999 St. Peter the Apostle Society Oakland CA    
1988 1999 Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood Oakland CA Director  
1989 1999 Catholic Ladies' Aid Society Oakland CA Grand Chaplain Tollner died Feb. 17, 1999


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1962-2000)

Diocesan Apology Services, Diocese of Oakland Website 2004
Priests: Diocese Knew of Parishioner Abuse, By Matt O'Brien, Tri-Valley Herald [Hayward CA], March 30, 2005
Sins, Secrets and Denial, By Rob Dennis, Jeremy Herb, Matthew Artz and Chris De Benedetti, San Jose Mercury News, March 30, 2008
Priests Served Despite Abuse Complaints, By Rob Dennis, Jeremy Herb, Matthew Artz and Chris De Benedetti
San Jose Mercury News, March 31, 2008
Accused Clerics, Contra Costa Times, April 1, 2008
Connections, Bay Area News Group, April 1, 2008

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 Tollner'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 April 3, 2013