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Friday, July 30, 2021

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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?

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:

BNO

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.

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.
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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.

Comments are closed.

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