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UncategorizedLawsuit claims spankings and forced sex at Catholic Church;...

Lawsuit claims spankings and forced sex at Catholic Church; what did the monsignor know and when did he know it?

48hills.orgpaddle
Monsignor Tarantino gave Bill McLaughlin this paddle, which a lawsuit claims he used to beat an employee

 

By Tim Redmond

UPDATE: Statement from Archdiocese included below

The board chairman of the Shrine of St. Francis in North Beach forced a young Church employee to have sex with him and beat her repeatedly with a paddle given to him by a high-ranking official of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, a lawsuit filed last week charges.

The suit expands in great (and frankly, horrifying) detail the allegations made last year by Jhona Mathews, who worked at the Shrine in North Beach.

According to the complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court Jan. 29, Bill McLaughlin, a Kentfield resident who was in charge of construction activities at the Shrine, repeatedly forced Mathews to have oral, anal, and vaginal sex with him, including in the church sacristy.

Mathews’ lawyer is Sandra Ribera.

Among the more explosive allegations: McLaughlin was close friends with Monsignor James Tarantino, then the vicar general of the Archdiocese – and Tarantino gave McLaughlin the paddle that was used to brutally spank Mathews.

McLaughlin has since been removed from his duties at the Archdiocese, and Tarantino has been reassigned to St. Mark’s Church in Belmont. The lawsuit raises the critical question: How could this abusive activity have gone on – in the building where the monsignor lived – without his knowledge? (more after the jump)

Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.

1 COMMENT

  1. While I am a member of the congregation of the Shrine of St. Francis and have met each of the ‘players’ in this drama several times – and regularly see Fr. Harold Snider – I cannot claim much inside information on this case.

    However, anyone who knows the history of the Franciscans will know that these are not people with a flexible attitude to sinning or any level of immorality or inhumanity. King Henry VIII of England burned hundreds of Franciscans because they refused, in turn, to burn heretics. Franciscans don’t negotiate with people who do things against their perception of God’s will, and the friars at the Shrine in San Francisco are Franciscan-Capuchins, the order that believed that even the Franciscans were too wayward.

    Jhona Matthews has never suggested she told either Fr. Greg Coiro or Fr. Harold Snider what was happening to her, and I am sure she didn’t. She did, however, tell us on many occasions that Fr. Harold was ‘lovely’ and that she listened to his homilies on the way to work.

    And it isn’t as if she couldn’t have done. Both Fr. Greg and Fr. Harold are simple, humble and approachable men. I don’t think Jhona is a Catholic but she must have known that if she wanted belt and braces protection in telling either of the Fathers about her situation, she could have asked them to hear her confession. She did, after all, have several acts to confess. No priest would ever violate the secrecy of the confessional and no priest would be pleased to hear his church was being used as a brothel.

    If anyone feels inclined to suggest that either Fr. Greg or Fr. Harold were complicit in any way in these events, they might as well extend their accusations to God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary as well. That extended accusation would be no less offensive or ridiculous.

    And why should Msg. Tarantino have known what was happening there either. His quarters are a long way away from the sacristy, and Jhona doesn’t claim to have told him about it either.

    So, what we come down to is that a deal appears to have been done between Bill McLaughlin that he would get Jhona Matthees a job at the Shrine in return for … Well, we can probably now guess what his price was. Jhona would earn 50% more than she was earning at the carpet shop and Bill would suppress the murky and seemingly criminal details of Jhona’s history. In other words, there was a conspiracy between them to deceive the Church for their respective gains.

    Then, having exploited the Church, there was a falling out between conspirators and at least one of them started to exploit the other, the outcome of which was that Bill McLaughlin got the upper hand, so to speak. One or both of them appears to have been playing fast and loose with Church finances, too.

    If what Jhona is saying with regard to Bill is true, she should be returning the favor and suing his ass raw – but the Church? The Church seems to have been just a backdrop against which Jonah and Bill played their ugly games – and a totally innocent victim of their lies and deceptions.

    Maybe Msg. Tarantino was something of a holy fool in putting his misplaced trust in Bill; maybe he should have been more worldly; but priests are usually far from worldly, that is sort of the point of them.

    And Bill told me, and others, that it was he (Bill) who had the famous paddle made up for Msg. Tarantino to present to him. Knowing Msg. Tarantino a little, he probably went along with this joke not to appear humorless or to hurt Bill’s feelings. Not being American, I don’t quite get all this Frat House stuff – no self-respecting Brit would go within a mile of these ‘Hooray Henry’ idiocies – but the greatest universities in the U.S. tolerate these weird rituals, so I’m guessing they represent what we would call ‘high jinx,’ as we rolled our eyes to heaven.

    My guess is that Bill and Jhona should do the decent thing for once and keep their sordid antics between themselves – in the bedroom, in court, wherever. Definitely not in the sacristy and definitely not involving the Church.

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