PHOENIX (3TV / CBS 5) – There is yet another allegation of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in Phoenix. On Monday, a lawsuit filed in Maricopa County targets both Brophy College Preparatory and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix for allowing a priest to sexually abuse a student in the 1980s.
From 1980 to 1987 Father James Sinnerud worked as a teacher and trainer at Brophy. The lawsuit claims it left the plaintiff “John RK Doe” with “emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, anger, rage, frustration, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, loss of love and affection, sexual dysfunction, past and future medical expenses for psychological treatment, therapy and counseling.
“For [those who haven’t suffered abuse], that was many years ago. But for the adult survivor, it is still part of their daily life, ”said Robert Pastor, the plaintiff’s lawyer.
In 2018, Jesuits West published a list of Jesuit priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse dating back 60 years. Eight of these priests had ties to Brophy; six of them had already died. Sinnerud, however, still lives in Nebraska, as far as Pasteur knows. Sinnerud worked at another Catholic school, Creighton Preparatory, in Omaha. Creighton recently uncovered allegations of abuse against him, which they say occurred before he arrived in Omaha. Sinnerud’s days at Brophy ended in 1987, and from there he immediately went to Creighton. This week’s trial lists Brophy and the Diocese of Phoenix as entities who attempted to cover up Sinnerud’s behavior.
“The Diocese of Phoenix and I think the Catholic Church in general, although they verbally commit to being transparent and being truthful, always deal in secrecy,” said Pastor.
The lawyer himself graduated from Brophy in 1993 and still actively practices Catholicism. He feels he is following what he learned in school – to be a man of service to others – by representing victims of abuse.
“It’s almost like they’re expecting, ‘Well, we’re not going to say anything until a survivor appears,’ said Pastor.
Brophy issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
Brophy College Preparatory is deeply saddened to acknowledge that on September 22, 2020, we were informed through a lawsuit of allegations of abuse against Fr. James A. Sinnerud, SJ. Bro. Sinnerud was employed as a teacher at Brophy four decades ago – from 1980 to 1987. He has not been part of our faculty since that time. In December 2018, Brophy and the Western Jesuit Province publicly made credible accusations against eight priests who had been assigned to Brophy for a period of 60 years, starting in the 1950s. We were not aware of it. no credible accusations against Fr. Sinnerud at that time. We encourage anyone who may have information about this, or who has been abused, to come forward by contacting Adria Renke, President of Brophy College Preparatory, at [email protected] or 602-264-5291, ext. 6777. We are deeply saddened by the suffering of all victims of religious abuse and will participate fully and transparently in efforts to advance healing and justice.
The lawsuit says Brophy should have known that Sinnerud “was unfit to work as a priest” even before he was hired at the Phoenix school.
“Studies and statistics tell me that, yes, there will probably be more casualties, and there will probably be priests who have not been identified,” Pastor said.
The Arizona family also received a statement from the diocese:
The Diocese of Phoenix is aware of the lawsuit filed against Father James Sinnerud, a Jesuit priest who taught at Brophy College Preparatory in the 1980s. As this is an ongoing litigation, we are unable to comment further. The Diocese of Phoenix encourages anyone who has been a victim or who may have information about abuse to call a local law enforcement agency. We pray for all who have been harmed by child abuse and remain vigilant to protect the dignity of each person. For more information on support services for victims of violence, please contact the Child and Youth Protection Office at (602) 354-2396 or dphx.org/protection-de-la-jeunesse.
Arizona passed a law last summer that extended the age limit for victims of abuse to file a complaint in court, but that extension only lasts until the end of this year.