Hardwood Babylon

A decade later, Mater Dei High Schools still protecting a coach accused of sleeping with students

Documents released after the 2004 settlement showed Mater Dei officials strained to cover up its employees' indiscretions. For instance, a 1984 letter regarding the Richardson case had Harris fretting to an unidentified superior, "So far we have managed to keep the situation under control, but I live with a certain anxiety that we may have to deal with the media and subsequently more public concern."

Andrade wasn't part of the 2004 settlement. But a couple of months after the deal's announcement, the Orange diocese secretly settled a suit filed against them by Andrade. In 2003, Mater Dei officials admitted to Orange County Register reporter Jim Hinch that they dismissed Andrade because of his relationship with Nancy. Andrade sued Mater Dei and the Orange diocese shortly afterward for invasion of privacy, stating in his argument that "the disclosure of any facts pertaining to [Andrade's] employment at Mater Dei is not newsworthy." The diocese shot back in a demurrer that Andrade "had no reasonable expectation of privacy. Andrade had been accused of a sexual relationship with a student. He could not reasonably believe that the mandatory reporting of this conduct would remain private." The suit was resolved but the outcome remains confidential, and the local media never reported on the case.

It's this background that has John Manly infuriated with his alma mater again. Manly, who graduated from Mater Dei in 1982, was one of the lead attorneys in the 2004 Orange diocese settlement, representing more than 30 clients, seven of whom were abused while attending Mater Dei. He refused to settle until Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown agreed to release personnel files Manly claimed would prove church officials knowingly shielded pedophiles within their ranks. The release of those documents in mid-2005 proved Manly's thesis. His crusade continues: on April 24, Manly filed a motion in Orange County Superior Court that made public almost all documents pertaining to Mater Dei's investigation of Andrade.

Nowadays, Manly spends most of his time pursuing clerical sex abuse cases across the country and even the world—just last week, he flew to Australia to depose a witness for a case against the San Diego diocese. So when Nancy contacted Manly in mid-2005 with her story, the Newport Beach attorney made the now-26-year-old Nancy go through the same procedure he uses for all potential clients. Manly's firm has a policy of extensively interviewing potential clients and conducting factchecks prior to filing any lawsuit involving allegations of sexual misconduct. Manly questioned Nancy with help from partners Ryan DiMaria, a victim of clerical sex abuse himself, and former Benedictine monk Patrick Wall.

Ultimately, Manly took on Nancy's case because "she's believable, she's forthright, she's honest, and she's been terribly hurt. Her innocence was stolen from her. As someone who attended Mater Dei, her abuse is anathema to me."

Manly filed the suit against Andrade and Mater Dei last July and had deposed just two school employees before Mater Dei lawyers tried silencing him. On April 19, longtime Orange diocese law firm Callahan, McCune & Willis filed a motion asking Superior Court Judge Jonathan Cannon to prohibit Manly from asking future witnesses whether they knew if other Mater Dei employees besides Andrade ever faced molestation charges.

"Plaintiff wants to broaden the scope of discovery by hoping to prove that Mater Dei had a history of 'employing molesters,'" wrote diocesan attorney Thomas Rutherford. Later in his filing, Rutherford claimed Manly filed the suit against Andrade "as a vehicle to locate potential clients." As proof, Rutherford included Exhibit A: a full-page ad Manly took out in the Weekly earlier this year asking former Mater Dei students to contact his office with any information about alleged sex abuse at the school during the 1990s.

Andrade's attorney didn't return a call for comment.

Manly dismisses the ambulance-chasing charge as the same slur the Orange diocese deploys against all litigants. "We don't know yet if there were other allegations against teachers while Andrade was there," Manly admits. "But I think a jury is entitled to know that. I would be an absolute fool as an advocate if I didn't request the identity of other child molesters at the same time. The fact that the diocese and Mater Dei don't want this disclosed is indicative of the fact they have something to hide."

Manly points to a Sept. 21, 1993, memo that Mater Dei officials disclosed only a couple of months ago. In it, a Mater Dei administrative board addressed an incident with Andrade in his science class where he talked explicitly about sex. "If the report is accurate," the memo says, Andrade "has moved one step beyond the [redacted] incident. The next step may require placing Mr. Andrade on probation."

Mater Dei officials and lawyers refuse to tell Manly the nature of the redacted incident. Manly suspects it's another abused student.

"It's pretty clear the Orange diocese has taken one giant step backward in their willingness to be cooperative with civil and criminal authorities on child molesters," Manly seethes. "They promised in 2004 that they were going to stop this nonsense. You'd think $100 million and a good public flogging was enough, but it wasn't. Nothing has changed."


GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM

 

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