Forester Haynie Adds Plaintiffs to Racketeering (RICO) Lawsuit Against Diocese of Tucson and Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Clients Diana Alamader-Douglas and "Jane Doe" at their first communion outside of St. Bernard Catholic Church in Pirtleville, AZ.

Clients Diana Alamader-Douglas and “Jane Doe” at their first communion outside of St. Bernard Catholic Church in Pirtleville, AZ.

You can’t just put all your bad priests in one basket and bankrupt that one basket and say, ‘Sorry, there is no relief for anyone.’”

— Ashley Pileika

TUCSON, ARIZONA, USA, March 29, 2021 / — In anticipation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (“SAAM”) in April, Forester Haynie is partnering with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (“SNAP”) to hold a press conference on Monday, March 29, 2021 in front of St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson to expose an ongoing effort by the Diocese of Tucson, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and St. John’s Seminary to coverup the sexual abuse of minors. Despite credible allegations made by two of our clients against Fr. Charles Knapp. To date, Fr. Knapp has not been investigated by law enforcement and remains in active ministry.

In July 2019, Diana Almader-Douglas stepped forward to report she was molested by Fr. Knapp from St. Bernard Parish in her Pirtleville home when she was five years old. Diana directly reported the abuse to Bishop Weisenburger and the Diocese of Tucson. After a flimsy “investigation” by the Diocese of Tucson’s “Human Resources Consultant,” Richard Serrano—later identified by Bishop Weisenburger as the Diocese of Tucson’s “independent investigator”—Diana received a letter in August 2019 from Bishop Weisenburger informing her the Diocese’s “Review Board” was “not recommend[ing] to [Bishop Weisenburger] any restriction of Fr. Knapp’s ministry.” Despite the fact Diana was never contacted by law enforcement, Diana was further told by Bishop Weisenburger “The Police” had declined to investigate any allegations against Fr. Knapp.

After receiving this letter, Diana met with Bishop Weisenburger in October 2019 to relay concerns for children to which Fr. Knapp might have access. Bishop Weisenburger said that the abusive priest “was much needed” in ministry and was not a risk to children. Fr. Knapp was permitted by Bishop Weisenburger to continue serving in active ministry, working with vulnerable populations on Davis–Monthan Air Force Base and within the criminal justice system. Diana was sent away with an apology, a prayer, and an offer of 10 counseling sessions with the diocesan counselor. Bishop Weisenburger has previously been accused of thwarting criminal investigations into credible accusations against abusive priests.

Forester Haynie has filed a racketeering (“RICO”) lawsuit against the Diocese of Tucson, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and St. John’s Seminary, because they have produced and funneled a disproportionate number of sexual predators to Tucson, a known “dumping ground for abusive priests.” According to a Los Angeles Times investigation, a third of priests that graduated from St. John’s 1966 and 1972 seminary classes were later accused of molestation.

In an amended complaint, Forester Haynie has added Diana as a third plaintiff to the lawsuit. “Jane Doe,” Diana’s childhood neighbor and best friend, who was also sexually molested by Fr. Knapp, and any other survivors that step forward with similar allegations, will be added in a second amended complaint.

In response to this lawsuit, the Diocese of Tucson has not refuted Diana’s allegations of child sexual abuse against Fr. Charles Knapp—who remains in active ministry and has not been named to the Diocese’s credibly accused list. Instead, the Diocese claims the lawsuit is barred by its 2004 bankruptcy filing and the statute of limitations. In a July 2020 letter to Diana’s attorneys, the Diocese of Tucson claimed, “any tort claims arising out of actions that occurred prior to the date the Diocese declared bankruptcy have been discharged.”

Forester Haynie is a national law firm that focuses on making sure every person across America has equal access to justice. The firm currently represents hundreds of child sexual abuse survivors. They have successfully recovered millions of dollars for their clients. If you are also a child sexual assault survivor, Forester Haynie can help you get the justice you deserve by calling 1-800-214-1010.

Emy Cook
Forester Haynie PLLC
+1 214-531-7166
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