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Lawsuit filed against Diocese of Fresno under new Child Victims Act

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 20:54:32-05

FRESNO, Calif. — The Diocese of Fresno and St. Philip the Apostle Church in Bakersfield are being sued over allegations they attempted to cover up sexual abuse for decades.

Tony Moreland, the Fresno woman who filed the suit, accused Fr. Anthony Moreno of sexual abuse while he served as priest of St. Philip the Apostle from July of 1979 to December of 1980.

"I never imagined doing anything like this," said Moreland in a press conference Thursday, "I think that was the most troubling of all things, was to realize that they just moved Anthony to another parish. I thought that was just what happened to me."

The Fresno Diocese confirmed Thursday that two allegations of abuse where made against Fr. Moreno in 1979 and 1980. It was in 1980 that Fr. Moreno made the move from Bakersfield to Fresno.

The same allegations were reported again to the diocese in 2008, at which time mandated reporting procedures were followed, and a third allegation was received in 2008 through a third party, according to the diocese.

"The children of the Diocese of Fresno deserved better," said Mike Reck, an attorney representing Moreland said during the press conference, "The children of Kern County who were exposed to this perpetrator deserved better and we must do better for them."

The lawsuit was filed Thursday under the new Child Victims Act, signed into law in October by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Under the Child Victims Act victims can file suit until age 40 or within five years from discovering “psychological injury or illness” occurring after the age of 18 was a result of childhood sexual abuse.