An activist with SNAP — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — has complained that members of Carpinteria’s St. Joseph’s parish were not notified that sexual abuse allegations had been leveled in the past against their new pastor, Fr. Richard Martini. “The fact that parishioners were not informed is very upsetting,” declared Joelle Casteix, SNAP’s western regional director. “It’s a case of the archdiocese ‘dumping’ troublesome priests in hopes that they will not be discovered.” Martini was transferred to St. Joseph’s in November from a Santa Clarita parish to fill a void because St. Joseph’s pastor had been seriously ill and could not perform his ministerial functions for several months.
Martini had been accused 10 years ago by a former student and water polo player at Our Lady Queen of Angels Seminary in Mission Hills of having molested him in 1990 and 1991. Police investigated the allegation and did not press charges. The archdiocese internal review committee reviewed the allegations and concluded they never happened. The complainant sued the archdiocese nonetheless and was one of 45 with whom the church reached a $60 million settlement. “A false accusation is a false accusation,” Martini stated. “I don’t know what else to say.” Of the settlement, he said, “For the good of real victims, some not-so-real victims have benefited.”
Regardless, SNAP’s Casteix said, the onus remains on the archdiocese to be forthcoming and transparent. Waiting for parishioners to check out their new priest on the Internet, she said, does not achieve that goal. Martini had a similar experience when he was first assigned to his Santa Clarita parish in 2010. When news of his legal history broke — before he started but after he’d been appointed — the archdiocese convened a town-hall meeting to address the issue. Why didn’t that happen at St. Joseph’s? “You get to a point, and you don’t realize this stuff is following you anymore,” he said. To date, Martini said, no one from St. Joseph’s has broached the issue with him. “The good news is that parents are doing their job,” he said, “trying to safeguard their children.”