|Rev. Robert Van Handel, o.f.m.
Summary of Case: A Franciscan priest, Robert Van Handel may have sexually abused 150 boys, ages 8-12, while he was director of the Santa Barbara Boys' Choir and a teacher at St. Anthony's High School Seminary. Van Handel was one of dozens of priests and brothers who sexually abused boys from the 1960s-1990s at St. Anthony's. Van Handel had himself been molested as a boy as a St. Anthony's student. When victims started coming forward in 1992 Van Handel was removed from active ministry and sent to treatment. He was convicted of child sexual abuse in 1994 and sentenced to eight years in prison. He served four years in prison, and four years on parole. He is last known to be living in Santa Cruz County, CA as a registered sex offender.
Los Angeles archbishop was Timothy Manning (1970-1985), followed by Roger Michael Mahony (1985-2011)
|1987||St. Anthony's Seminary High School
• St. Anthony's and the Santa Barbara Boys' Choirs were sources of victims for Van Handel from 1975-1992. According to a lawsuit, as of Sept. 2004 fourteen Van Handel victims were identified.
• A 2009 lawsuit said that Franciscans with no medical training at St. Anthony's in the 1960s and 1970s would routinely check boys in the infirmary for undescended testicles, and that Van Handel participated in this ruse.
• Van Handel admitted to his therapist in the 1990s to having molested his "little nephew" while staying at his sister's house in Oregon, not long after his ordination.
St. Anthony's had 55-97 students.
This high school seminary boarding school closed in 1987.
A 1993 church appointed board of inquiry found that 11 priests had abused 34 students at St. Anthony's from the 1960s to 1987.
|1987||1991||St. Anthony's Seminary||Santa Barbara||CA|
|1970s||1990s||Santa Barbara Boys' Choir||
• Two more former Boys' Choir members accused Van Handel of sexually abusing them, between 1989-1994, in a Dec. 2004 lawsuit.
• Van Handel's therapist wrote to the Court in 1994 that Van Handel likely molested 150 eight- to twelve-year-olds as director of the Santa Barbara Boys Choir. In Van Handel's diary, confiscated in 1994 by police, he wrote that the Boys' Choir provided a constant supply of attractive little boys.
Another Santa Barbara Boys' Choir leader and St. Anthony's teacher, Rev. Philip Wolfe, O.F.M. , pleaded no contest in 1989 to engaging in oral sex with a boy. It was his conviction that lead to the discovery of decades of sexual abuse of boys at the seminary by dozens of priests. Also among the Franciscan offenders were Revs. Cimmarusti and Krumm, and Bro. Cabot.
Wolfe took his own life in Nov. 1994, just after completing probation.
Oakland bishop was John Stephen Cummins (1977-2003)
|1992||Franciscan Friars Provincial House, Province of St. Barbara||Oakland||CA||secretarial work||Van Handel lived in Berkeley and worked at the Provincial office in Oakland. He was removed "from a church in San Francisco" in 1992.|
|1992||St. Luke's Institute||Suiteland||MD||patient||Van Handel admitted his pedophilic behavior to his Provincial in the Spring of 1992, and was subsequently sent to St. Luke's for treatment.|
|1994||Pacific Treatment Associates||Santa Cruz||CA||patient|
In Aug. 2006 The Franciscans and L.A. archdiocese settled with 26 people who claimed they were sexually abused as children by Franciscans. Most of the abuse is said to have occurred at St. Anthony's Seminary High School. The settlement included an agreement that church documents related to the abuse cases would be made public. Six accused Franciscans fought the agreement. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman ruled against the friars, writing, "The rights of privacy must give way to the State's interest in protecting children from sexual abuse." Lichtman noted that, since 1958, 54 children were sexually abused by Franciscans who worked at or near St. Anthony's and the Santa Barbara Mission. The Franciscan files were released in May 2012.
The parents of a Van Handel victim established the "Therapy Trust for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse."
Van Handel is last known to be living in Santa Cruz County, CA as a registered sex offender.
Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1976-1992)
• Molested at St. Anthony's, By Andrew Rice, Santa Barbara Independent, December 2-9, 1993