Another former Brophy College preparatory priest accused of abuse
A Jesuit priest who taught at Brophy College Preparatory for seven years in the 1980s and coached the boy’s football team is the last Catholic priest in the Phoenix area to be charged with sexual abuse.
In a lawsuit filed today, an anonymous alum now living in California alleges that Reverend James A. Sinnerud, SJ had sexual contact with him without his consent and while he was a minor unable to give consent. The lawsuit does not specify the nature or time of the alleged misconduct, but Sinnerud was reportedly in his 40s while teaching at Brophy.
The lawsuit alleges that Brophy, the Jesuit Chapter of the Western United States and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix were negligent in protecting the plaintiff from Sinnerud and knew or should have known of his abuse. He cites long-standing evidence of Church efforts to cover up an epidemic of child sexual abuse by clergy, including a 2003 confession by the Bishop of Phoenix. that he had moved priests to hide their misdeeds.
Sinnerud was one of 38 clergymen named by the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska, as credibly accused of sexual abuse in 2018 following an investigation by the Attorney General of that state. It is not known when the incident of this allegation occurred, but the Catholic school he worked for in 2018 said it happened before he started working at the school in 1987 after having left Brophy. Prior to coming to Brophy, Sinnerud taught at Jesuit high schools in Seattle and Portland, according to research from the law firms that filed the complaint.
The allegation bears the number of priests accused of misconduct with ties to Arizona at 150, according to a list compiled by one of the firms, Jeff Anderson & Associates. Anderson & Associates, a leading national firm in clergy sexual abuse cases, is filing a complaint with local attorney and former prosecutor Robert Pastor.
The pastor is currently dealing with a number of cases against the Dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson, including two against the Diocese of Phoenix filed earlier this month. Under a bitterly fought Bill passed last year, middle-aged survivors of child sexual abuse have until the end of this year to bring legal action related to their abuse.
The pastor said Phoenix New Times that the last survivor to come forward is in part due to the new law.
“Part of the purpose of the law was to identify offenders whom we do not yet know,” he said. The pastor said information on priests accused of abuse published by dioceses is inconsistent. While the Nebraska school said the abuse allegation against Sinnerud took place prior to his time there, none of the three dioceses in which he previously taught include him on their lists of accused priests in such a way. credible.
The pastor said he hoped the lawsuit would provide the plaintiff with answers about what the Church might have known. He said Sinnerud’s multiple transfers before he was sent to Nebraska raise questions – especially since the Church used to bypass abusive priests. Learning more and discovering other survivors can help in the healing process, because “so much of what [survivors] crossing is alone, ”said the pastor.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Phoenix did not respond to a phone call or email this afternoon asking for comment.
In 2012, a former Brophy instructor was arrested after former students said they assaulted them. The Jesuit order also identified eight additional priests with credible access to sexual abuse who taught Brophy at one point.