Last Update: Thursday, April 17, 2014
|Family Files Civil Lawsuit Over St. Didacus Abuse Case|
|Written by Alex Garcia|
|Thursday, 20 February 2014 05:46|
The parents of a 14-year-old girl who was allegedly abused by a volunteer girl’s softball coach at St. Didacus Catholic School in Sylmar has filed a civil lawsuit, claiming the Los Angeles Archdiocese failed to protect her.
“They [the Archdiocese] don’t have any defense,” said said Herminio Ortiz, the girl’s father, during a Feb. 18 press conference outside Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral. “He (Epifanio “Pete” Nevarez) threw my daughter in the air like a rag and swept the floor with her. He did what he wanted with her and now they [the Archdiocese] are going to pay the consequences.
” “My daughter was damaged physically and emotionally,” added Ortiz. “It’s not possible that no one noticed what was happening. My daughter was abused for five months.” Ortiz said he hopes to “get justice” with his suit against the Archdiocese. He claims Archbishop Jose Gomez and the Archdiocese’s administration ignored his complaints.
The father added that he learned of the alleged abuse after his daughter told his older sister about it. The suit claims that the girl was “sexually harassed and abused” by Nevarez during sport activities before and after classes in the Catholic school, which “failed to supervise” Nevarez' activities. “Specifically, he came into contact with this minor and took her home from the school to have her participate in ‘sex games’ with Nevarez,” the suit alleges.
The Archdiocese released a statement that it helped with the investigation of the case. “Epifanio Nevarez was a designated parent representative for his grandchildren who were students at St. Didacus School. Archdiocesan policy does not allow anyone with a known credible allegation of abuse of a minor to serve or volunteer in any ministry.
The safety and protection of children and young people is our utmost priority,” the statement reads. Nevarez, 58, pleaded no contest last September to charges that he committed lewd and lascivious acts with a minor in his Canyon Country home. He was sentenced to six years in state prison, and required to register as a sex offender.
Police said the incidents took place in his home after school. Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Special Victims Bureau said the young girl was an acquaintance of a family member. When news first broke about this incident, the school held an emergency meeting of parents. Nevarez was arrested March 4, 2013, by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff 's Station deputies after an investigation by the Sheriff's Department's Special Victims Unit.
During the court hearings, there were heated exchanges outside of the courtroom between the girl’s relatives and members of Nevarez' family, who insisted the young girl was lying and described him as a loving grandfather and family man. “Criminal justice already did its part, now we’re going to get civil justice against the Archdiocese for its negligence because we want it to comply with the necessary structural changes to prevent more abuse of children in the schools,” said Luis Carrillo, the lawyer representing the girl’s family.
“We want changes within the Archdiocese so that they vet any volunteer, just like a teacher,” Carrillo said. “Beyond that, we want changes in state law so that public or private institutions are required to keep complaints of misconduct within the teacher or administrator’s file for 20 years and not for five.
” Carrillo said the Archdiocese and the school failed to protect the girl by allowing Nevarez to volunteer as a softball coach despite having a police record. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles had previously indicated a background check was not done because Nevarez, as a volunteer, would not be supervising children alone.