January 08, 2005

Former altar boys call priest abusive

Mercury News

By Robin Evans
Mercury News

A respected priest who once held one of the highest positions in the San Jose Diocese has been put on administrative leave following allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

Monsignor Alexander Larkin was removed as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Saratoga last month, when the diocese was served notice of a lawsuit by two men who say he molested them between 1975 and 1980. They were altar boys at Our Lady of the Rosary in Palo Alto at the time.

Larkin is the first diocese priest to be removed since 2002, when three priests were suspended after the Roman Catholic church's adoption of a zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse. Larkin was not available for comment.

Diocese spokeswoman Roberta Ward said Larkin was an excellent administrator who, in 1992, was named director of pastoral ministry, one of the diocese's largest offices.

``Al's one of our great pastors and priests. He's really respected, so it's a great tragedy,'' Ward said. Larkin has also been pastor at St. John Vianney in San Jose, St. Thomas Aquinas in Palo Alto and St. William in Los Altos.

One of the plaintiffs, a 40-year-old Bay Area man, told the Mercury News that Larkin was not just a pastor but an intimate friend of the family. Larkin visited three to four times a week and joined the large family at their vacation house in the North Bay, he said. Larkin was his mother's confidant when his parents divorced and his father left.

Posted by kshaw at January 8, 2005 09:17 AM