LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former janitor at a Catholic church in Maywood who is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, alleging she was forced to quit in 2019 after an associate pastor groped her in the rectory and tried to coerce her into his bed, describes the incident in detail in new court papers.
The Long Beach woman worked as a custodian at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, the grounds of which include a school and a rectory that housed the living areas and offices of Pastor Dario Miranda and Associate Pastor Primitivo Gonzalez, the suit filed in December of 2020 states.
On the morning of July 30, 2019, the plaintiff says she was directed to clean the parish rectory, including Gonzalez's private living space. She was normally assigned to maintain only the school and church, but the employee who normally maintained the rectory was absent that day, the suit says.
The plaintiff, who was unfamiliar with the rectory because she had not cleaned it before, encountered Gonzalez in the kitchen on the first floor and he showed her the various rooms, including his own quarters comprised of a bedroom with a private bathroom, according to the suit.
"I was standing when suddenly I felt that my wrist, that someone was touching my wrist," the plaintiff says in a deposition given on March 4, portions of which are attached to her court papers filed on Friday in opposition to the archdiocese's motion to dismiss her case. "After that, I froze. I didn't know who had grabbed my wrist. And then I turned around and his hands were touching my breast. I was walking backwards until I got stuck on the wall and I noticed that it was him and I just opened my mouth because I couldn't believe that the priest was doing this."
The woman further states that Gonzalez put both of his hands against the wall and that he "put his body very close to mine and he was touching me. He wanted to kiss me and I was moving my head from one side to the other, and he would move his head from one side to the other doing the same thing that I was doing."
The plaintiff says she "stepped on my tiptoes so that I could be a little bit taller than him so that he couldn't kiss me, but he grabbed my neck. He was breathing hard, and after that, he moved one of his hands away from the wall and he put my blouse down and my bra."
The priest then said "Mamacita, I dreamed of you. Let's go to bed," according to the plaintiff.
The clergyman continued rubbing his body against hers, the plaintiff says.
"I couldn't move," she says. "I couldn't think at the moment."
The plaintiff says she was able to escape from the bathroom, turned around and saw the priest following her while exposing himself.
The alleged incident left the plaintiff with post-traumatic stress disorder and her psychiatrist says she is permanently unfit to resume employment within the archdiocese, according to her court papers.
In their court papers urging dismissal of the plaintiff's suit, lawyers for the archdiocese state that she never actually quit her job.
"Plaintiff is currently employed on a leave of absence," the archdiocese attorneys state in their court papers. "She continued to work for three months after the incident before beginning her leave. At plaintiff's deposition, she testified that she has not resigned and has not told anyone that she will not be returning from her leave."
When the plaintiff reported the incident, the archdiocese the next day took action so that Gonzalez could no longer function as a priest and he was removed from the parish within 24 hours, according to the archdiocese attorneys' court papers.
Gonzalez admitted his wrongdoing and the archdiocese reported the woman's accusations to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, according to the defense attorneys' court papers. Gonzalez was kept out of the ministry, moved to Northern California to live with his brother in August 2019 and died in December 2020 of complications related to dementia, according to the archdiocese attorneys' court papers.
Prior to the alleged attack on the plaintiff, Gonzalez was a priest in good standing, the archdiocese attorneys state in their court papers.
"In short, (the archdiocese) had no knowledge of any complaints by anyone against Father Gonzalez related to inappropriate conduct," the archdiocese lawyers further state in their court papers.
A hearing on the archdiocese's dismissal motion is scheduled June 17 before Judge Christopher K. Lui.