February 03, 2005

Lawsuit says priest molested two girls

Modesto Bee


Last Updated: February 3, 2005, 05:15:22 AM PST

A lawsuit alleging that a Modesto priest molested two Hughson girls is set for trial in Stockton this month.

The lawsuit, filed in September 2002, alleges that the Rev. Francis Arakal, an associate pastor at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto, fondled 11- and 13-year-old sisters at their Hughson home in July 2001. The trial proceedings are set to begin Feb. 22 in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

The lawsuit also charges that the Diocese of Stockton and St. Joseph's pastor, the Rev. Joseph Illo, responded inappropriately when one of the girls told Illo about the alleged abuse on Sept. 11, 2001.

Diocese officials declined to comment on the case. Illo, reached by phone this week, contested the lawsuit's description of events.

According to the complaint, Arakal touched the breasts of the 13-year-old girl and breasts and groin area of the 11-year-old girl on July 25, 2001.

According to her attorneys, the younger girl told Illo of her sister's abuse in a setting at the church that she believed was confidential. Illo violated that confidentiality, the lawsuit says, setting a meeting for him, Arakal and the younger girl.

"During the confrontation, (Arakal and Illo) began to yell, berate and intimidate (the girl), calling (her) a 'liar,'" the complaint says. It states that Illo said, "All your mother wants to do is have sex with me."

Posted by kshaw at February 3, 2005 07:32 AM