Before taking the senior post in San Francisco, Tarantino was pastor of St. Hilary’s Church in Tiburon. McLaughlin oversaw major renovation work on the church.
“During those two decades at St. Hilary’s,” the complaint states, “Defendant McLaughlin and Tarantino shared a close working relationship as well as an intimate friendship. … Monsignor Tarantino became aware of Defendant McLaughlin’s propensity to engage in illegal activities, including but not limited to, sexually harassing co-workers …. While at St. Hilary’s, Monsignor Tarantino welcomed McLaughlin into the “BNO” (Boy’s Night Out) fraternal society. At that time, Tarantino gave McLaughlin a wooden sex paddle with the following inscription engraved on the paddle:
To: Bill M
From: Father T.
Said wooden paddle was used to ‘spank’ raw the buttocks of plaintiff after she was hired as Administrative Assistant to the rector of the Shrine.”
The suit alleges that Tarantino moved into the Shrine, on Vallejo Street, and that McLaughlin (who told me in November that he was just a “volunteer”) oversaw renovations of the monsignor’s residence, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars of Archdiocese money.
(At the same time, Tarantino, who oversees all of the Archdiocese real estate, was threatening to evict small businesses on 24th Street so the Church could raise the rent.)
Mathews was working for the company that installed new carpets in the rectory. McLaughlin, 67, invited Mathews, 32, a single mother, to dinner and offered her a job.
“Defendant McLaughlin told Plaintiff that it was such a big deal that she was coming in under his name that she should be grateful and that she would owe him ‘big,'” the complaint states.
Mathews was hired without first filling out a job application and after what the complaint describes as a perfunctory interviewing process. Shortly after that, McLaughlin created two draft resumes for Mathews and emailed them to her. “One of the resumes was accurate, but the other resume displayed a photograph of a raw buttock at the top of the page. The email said, ‘Gave you a choice. You know the one I prefer.'”
It goes on:
“In November of 2012, Defendant McLaughlin insisted that Plaintiff meet him in the sacristy of the Shrine’s main church. The sacristy was the room above the altar where the ‘Body of Christ’ and other sacred objects such as vessels and vestments were kept. Once there, Defendant insisted on ‘punishing’ Plaintiff. He told her, ‘Bend over, it’s time for punishment.’ Defendant McLaughlin pulled down Plaintiffs pants, bent her over the railing, and proceeded to spank her with his bare hands.”
Mathews, the complaint states, was worried that she wouldn’t be able to support her daughter if she lost her job. She tried to avoid McLaughlin, but he told her that her job performance would be linked to her willingness to have sex with him and to accept beatings, including spankings with the BNO paddle.
It states that, when Mathews became unwilling to continue servicing McLaughlin’s sexual desires, she was fired on a pretense.
Larry Kamer, the public relations person for the Archdiocese, issued the following statement:
“We have reviewed the lawsuit, which is full of lurid accusations but devoid of the truth. Ms. Mathews was let go for financial improprieties that are the subject of an ongoing police investigation, and for no other reason. Claims to the contrary are false.
“All of us involved with the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi are dedicated to building a place of peace that is welcoming to all. We are doing our best to continue that important work and look forward to a complete and factual accounting of this matter through the legal process. “
It’s hard to believe that all of this could have happened without the knowledge of Tarantino or other Church officials. That, of course, will come out in depositions and at trial.