Timeline Of Events

1977: Edward Fitz-Henry enrolls in the diocesan seminary in Dublin, Ireland.

Dec. 2, 1981: The rector writes a letter to the bishop of the Monterey Diocese recommending Fitz-Henry: “He is a pleasant young fellow and his family background is very good.”

Jan. 4, 1982: Fitz-Henry is accepted as a deacon at the Diocese of Monterey to complete his studies.

Dec. 8, 1985: Fitz-Henry is ordained as a priest and begins serving in the Diocese of Monterey.

June 23, 1986: Fitz-Henry is assigned to Madonna del Sasso in Salinas.

Nov. 15, 1986: Fitz-Henry is appointed as diocesan scout chaplain.

April 28, 1988: Fitz-Henry is assigned to San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey.

Nov. 21, 1988: Fitz-Henry sends a letter of resignation saying that he is stepping down from the position of scout chaplain.

Summer 1990: A mother reports sexual behavior by Fitz-Henry toward her two sons to the diocese. “They thought that I had shown too much affection or interest or friendship,” Fitz-Henry said in a deposition later.

Nov. 28, 1990: Fitz-Henry is assigned to Carmel Mission.

Sept. 1, 1992: Fitz-Henry begins serving as pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Carmel Valley.

Late 1992: The Diocese sends Fitz-Henry to several months of treatment at Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, a residential program for priests and monks specializing in therapy and recovery from addiction, depression and pedophilia, among other issues.

Jan. 17, 1993: Fitz-Henry signs off on recommendations and guidelines for care filed by Servants of the Paraclete.

1993: Fitz-Henry returns to Servants of the Paraclete for a five-day follow-up consultation. Also this year, Fitz-Henry is assigned to Mission San Luis Obispo. Agnes Leonardich, superintendent of schools for the diocese, calls James Gentilucci, the principal at SLO, to tell him to be on alert when Fitz-Henry was near altar boys. “If anything was going to happen, it might happen there,” she later said in a deposition.

Nov. 3, 1994: Fitz-Henry is assigned to Mission San Juan Bautista, and begins serving there in 1995.

1997: California clergy members become mandated reporters of suspected child abuse.

June 28, 2002: An internal memo is circulated at the Diocese indicating Fitz-Henry was the subject of a 1990 allegation of sexual abuse.

march 27, 2003: District Attorney Dean Flippo completes an investigation into 12 reports of alleged abuse at the diocese since the 1960s, including the 1990 allegation against Fitz-Henry. Because the statute of limitations has passed in that case, the DA does not open a criminal investigation.

2004: The Diocese of Monterey publishes a guide to the “Safe Environment Program,” laying out rules for overnight visits, physical contact and reporting suspected child abuse.

April 15, 2005: Fitz-Henry is re-assigned by Bishop Sylvester Ryan to Madonna del Sasso parish in North Salinas.

Late 2005: A 15-year-old boy, later identified in court papers as “John RJ Doe,” begins attending mass at Madonna del Sasso. Over the next two years, John Doe is allegedly sexually abused by Fitz-Henry.

March 26, 2007: The mother of the two boys in the 1990 incident learns Fitz-Henry is again working at a parish with children. She writes a letter to Bishop Richard Garcia asking that Fitz-Henry be reassigned to a post where he will not have contact with children. “My family feels betrayed,” she wrote. The bishop replies, “I am looking into the issues you raised with regard to Fr. Ed. Please be assured that I take what you say very seriously and will get back to you as soon as possible.” Three months later, Fitz-Henry is reassigned from Madonna del Sasso to Mission San Juan Bautista.

June 1, 2010: Bishop Garcia sends a letter to congregants with his reflections on the Diocese of Monterey’s commitment to protecting children. “I promise you, the faithful in this Diocese, that I will do my best to learn from the past,” he wrote. “I hope and pray that there will never be another child abused by anyone especially anyone associated with the Catholic Church or most particularly with the Diocese of Monterey.”

November-December 2010: John Doe tells Fr. Nicholas Milich that Fitz-Henry sexually abused him in 2005. “He told me he was already working with an attorney,” Milich later wrote in a statement to Tom Riordan of the Diocese. “Because of this, I did not believe I needed to report at that time. In retrospect, I realize that I should have at least reported to Bishop Garcia.”

Jan. 7, 2011: The Diocese of Monterey receives a letter from John Doe’s attorneys alerting them to the alleged sexual misconduct. Diocesan officials report to the police, and assign a volunteer Independent Review Board to look into the allegations with the assistance of private investigator Don Cline, a retired Salinas detective. Fitz-Henry is suspended from ministry pending the investigation. Milich is suspended for failure to report the allegation of sexual abuse.

Jan. 8, 2011: Fitz-Henry leaves San Juan Bautista for Mission San Antonio in Jolon.

Feb. 1, 2011: John Doe, accompanied by attorney Vince Finaldi, files a report at the Salinas Police Department.

Feb. 10, 2011: Dr. Marc Tunzi, a physician at Natividad Medical Center and the chairman of the Diocese’s Internal Review Board, writes this resolution after the board concludes its internal investigation: “The Independent Review Board finds that the allegation against Fr. Fitz-Henry from 1992 constitutes a credible violation of the Charter for the Protection of Young People.”

Feb. 14, 2011: Bishop Garcia sends a letter to congregants alerting them to the allegations against Fitz-Henry, reporting that the 1992 allegation (based on 1990 events) was credible, while the more recent one is not.

Feb. 15, 2011: John Doe files a lawsuit in Monterey County Superior Court against the Diocese of Monterey and Fitz-Henry.

March 2, 2011: Bishop Garcia sends Fitz-Henry a letter explaining he’s been suspended from the ministry. He writes that because the 1992 allegation was found credible, the Diocese will not assist with attorney’s fees. “It is appropriate considering the gravity of the delicts leveraged against you,” he wrote. “Despite all that has happened in these last few weeks, you remain dear to me as one of my priests and I pray for you and all involved in this terrible ordeal.”

April 15, 2011: Monterey County Superior Court Judge Kay Kingsley rules that John Doe may remain anonymous in court proceedings, over the objections of defendants.

April 27, 2011: Fitz-Henry’s attorneys move to limit discovery, claiming psychotherapist-patient privilege applies. The diocese also files a motion for a protective order, arguing documents must be filed under seal in order to prevent publicity from tainting the jury pool. John Doe’s attorneys object.

June 17, 2011: Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills rules in favor of the protective order, making all documents in the case confidential. Parties are required to file all court papers under seal, and Wills decides upon review what can be included in the public file.

Oct. 26, 2011: Salinas PD concludes its investigation and turns over its findings to the District Attorney’s office. On Oct. 31, the DA rejects the case and declines to file charges.

Jan. 31, 2012: Fitz-Henry sues the Diocese for defamation of character, disclosure of private information and infliction of emotional distress, alleging they threw him under the bus and failed to protect him from unproven allegations.

Feb. 17, 2012: John Doe and the Diocese of Monterey announce they’ve reached a settlement. The Diocese pays John Doe $500,000 in exchange for dropping his lawsuit. John Doe agrees to pay $4,124 covering Fitz-Henry’s court costs.

April 23, 2013: Fitz-Henry and the Diocese reach a settlement for an undisclosed sum of money. As part of the agreement, Fitz-Henry agrees to be “laicized,” or permanently stripped of his priestly duties.

May 21, 2013: The Weekly files a motion to intervene in the case and obtain documents that had been sealed, as well as the depositions taken in the case.

Sept. 11, 2013: Judge Wills agrees with the Weekly, and orders some depositions be released, but that sensitive portions be redacted. “I want to make sure these folks are protected,” he said of the family that complained of misconduct 20 years ago. Wills delays the release of the documents pending a potential appeal.

Feb. 13, 2014: The Diocese of Monterey appeals to the Sixth Appellate District Court in San Jose.

July 21, 2015: Three justices of the Sixth Appellate District Court hear oral arguments from diocese attorney Paul Gaspari and Weekly attorney Roger Myers.

July 31, 2015: The court files its opinion and agrees Judge Wills had the discretion to unseal the documents.

Aug. 18, 2015: The Weekly files a motion asking that the court publish its opinion, meaning it could be used as a precedent for future cases. The court denies the motion.

Sept. 30, 2015: The Sixth District Court of Appeal issues its “remittitur,” meaning its decision is final and the Weekly can obtain the documents and depositions it sought.

Oct. 1, 2015: The Weekly obtains 750 pages of deposition transcripts and 500 pages of documents from the file in the civil suit of John “RJ” Doe vs. Edward Fitz-Henry and the Diocese of Monterey.

Oct. 27, 2015: Former priest Edward Fitz-Henry shares his story with the Weekly.

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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