Rev. Milton T. Walsh

Summary of Case: Walsh molested a 12- to 13-year-old California boy in 1984, some of the abuse occurring on the boy's 13th birthday. The boy told his parents the day after his birthday, and they reported the abuse to San Francisco archbishop Quinn. Quinn convinced the parents not to go to police, reassuring them that Walsh would get help and not reoffend. When William Levada became San Francisco archbishop in 1995, he learned of the 1984 abuse by Walsh, and Walsh acknowledged it. Levada kept Walsh in ministry until August  2002, after the U.S. Bishops' drafted a "zero tolerance" policy. Walsh was arrested in October 2002 on charges related to the 1984 molestations. Charges were dropped in July 2003 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that would have allowed for prosecution.

: 1978


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


San Francisco archbishop was John Raphael Quinn (1977-1995)

1980 Our Lady of Loretto Novato CA 2/3 Our Lady of Novato had a school with 322-324 students.
1980 1982 St. Thomas the Apostle San Francisco CA 4/4 St. Thomas the Apostle had a school with 250 students.
1982 1985 Special Assignment


Walsh was arrested in Oct. 2002 and charged with having molested a boy in 1984, in the months before and on his 13th birthday in Novato, CA. He was said to have fondled the boy while the two swam together at a country club pool, and on the boy's 13th birthday he was said to have cornered the boy in the club's shower and rubbed his genitals. The priest was a family friend from his time at Our Lady of Loretto in Novato. He spent the night at the family's home after the boy's birthday party that night, and reportedly fondled the boy again during the night. The boy had been an altar server, dreamed of becoming a priest, and thought of Walsh as his spiritual mentor.



According to the boy's parents, the boy told them about the molestations the day after his birthday, and they told archbishop Quinn. Quinn convinced the parents not to go to the police and reassured them that Walsh would get help and not reoffend.

Walsh was on a break from doctoral studies in Rome at Our Lady of Loretto.

1985 1989 St. Patrick Seminary Menlo Park CA faculty in residence Now referred to as S.T.D. (Doctor of Sacred Theology)


Quinn was succeeded by William Joseph Levada (1995-2005)

1997 Cathedral of St. Mary San Francisco CA 1/4, 1/3 Levada admitted under oath that he first learned of Walsh's 1984 abuse when he arrived in San Francisco in 2005. The victim's aunt wrote Levada a letter begging him "not to let this man fall through the cracks". Walsh admitted to fondling the boy. Levada allowed Walsh to stay in ministry.
1996 2002 Knights of Malta San Francisco CA    
1997 2002 St. Patrick Seminary Menlo Park CA Dean of Students 1997-2001, Academic Vice President and Provost 2001-2002  
2002 2003        

Walsh is not indexed in the 2003 Directory.

Walsh was removed from active ministry in Aug. 2002 due to allegations that he had molested a 12- to 13-year-old boy in 1984. He was arrested on charges of child sexual abuse in Oct. of that year, after the archdiocese turned his name and allegations over to prosecutors. Walsh admitted to the abuse in a phone call placed to him by the victim in 2002. The call was secretly taped by Novato police. Walsh apologized to his victim.

The charges against Walsh were dropped in July 2003, when a CA law that would have extended the statutes of limitation on sex crimes against children was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.


George Hugh Niederauer replaced Levada (2005-)

2011 Absent on Leave   CA   Levada went on to lead the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees cases of child sexual abuse. Walsh's victim stated in 2010 that he was outraged by Levada's role and that the abuse by Walsh "really ruined me."


Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1979-2011)

Priest Charged with Abuse of Boy, 13, By Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, October 5, 2002
Judge Finds Enough Evidence to Try Priest for Abuse, By Con Garretson, Marin Independent Journal (Marin, CA), June 10, 2003
Charges Dropped in Novato Molest Case, By Con Garretson, Marin Independent Journal, July 2, 2003
Levada Takes Heat over Abuse Inquiry, By Don Lattin, San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 2004
The Man Who Keeps the Secrets, By Jason Berry, San Francisco California [San Francisco CA], Downloaded September 22, 2005
Vatican Official Left Abusive Priest in Pastor Job, By Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press, April 28, 2010
Vatican Abuse Investigator ‘failed to Report Californian Priest’, By Richard Owen, The Times , April 30, 2010
Vatican Official Left Abusive Priest in Pastor Job, By Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press, April 28, 2010

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.

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This assignment record was last updated on December 21, 2011.