**UPDATED** It is NEVER Okay To Defame A 14-Year-Old Crime Victim

UPDATED JANUARY 27, 2012 –  Today, the Orange County District Attorney’s office charged Richard Aldana with seven felony counts of lewd acts on a child.

Good news, indeed.


Original post: International human rights groups cry foul when rape victims are stoned, imprisoned or forced to marry their rapists. But in sunny California, the news is almost as disturbing.

Last week, Richard Aldana, a popular teacher at JSerra High School (an independent Catholic high school that is endorsed, but not owned, by the Diocese of Orange) was arrested for raping a 14-year-old student. The school immediately fired the teacher when they learned of the circumstances around his arrest, according to school spokesman Bill Rams.

So far, so good. But story goes downhill … and fast.

It took less than 24 hours before students at the school (Catholic school students, mind you) went on expletive-laden rants in the comments of local news websites. They blamed the victim, called her names, said that her parents are only after money, and asserted Aldana’s innocence, although they, like the rest of the public, know nothing of the circumstances of the allegations and arrest.

Within a couple of days, students formed a Facebook group in support of Aldana, wore “Free Aldana” t-shirts, and some pretty awful musicians wrote a song about the arrested teacher.

But what was missing? No one publicly reached out in support of the girl—someone who may have been a friend, confidant and a part of their support system. Not a single student at the Catholic school has done anything so small as publicly offer a prayer for a child crime victim. The students don’t know who she is, yet they blame her without question.

That’s the good news.

Enter Aldana’s criminal lawyer. His strategy: slaughter the child. In an article in the local newspaper about how the victim’s mother attained a restraining order against Aldana, attorney Michael Molfetta called the girl a liar (remember Jim Boeheim, anyone?), stated that his client might get his own restraining order against the girl (who can’t drive – she’s 14, remember?), and that her parents “shouldn’t go out and buy a yacht right away,”

Note: while there was enough evidence to arrest Aldana, NO civil suit has been filed. The victim’s parents have hired an attorney, but looking at the treatment that their daughter has received, who can blame them?

So here is my question: On what planet is it EVER okay to defame a sex crime victim? Especially one who is FOURTEEN YEARS OLD?!!

I am not saying the Aldana is definitely guilty. That’s for the police and the prosecutors to determine. But what I am saying is that the behavior of JSerra’s students, Aldana’s lawyer and school administrators (who refuse to apologize for baseless attacks on the victim) is reprehensible and should be stopped. I don’t know what the school is advocating, but it certainly has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

By allowing these attacks to continue, JSerra is fostering a dangerous, pro-crime atmosphere where any victim of violence is scared and shamed into silence. Think about other young crime victims at the school. Students who are victims of rape (no matter the perpetrator), incest, abuse, and domestic violence are NEVER going to come forward if they see that other victims are run over by the bus as school administrators watch and smile.

I have yet to see any kind of apology from school officials for the actions of these students, although the CEO did publish a letter in the local paper about the arrest and allegations.

What should these students be doing? They can support Aldana all they want. But they should do it quietly and privately. They should understand that posting Facebook pages and printing T-shirts do NOT work in the teacher’s favor in the eyes of investigators. In fact, these actions, as well as posting comments on news articles that say “he is my good friend,” “he is always there for me – day and night,” and “everyone liked to hang out with him,” are examples of grooming behaviors and mirror exactly what happened with admitted and/or jailed perpetrators Michael Harris, John Lenihan and Alex Castillo.

What should Aldana’s attorney Michael Molfetta be doing? He should defend his client in the criminal courtroom and NOT attack a CHILD crime victim. What judge will look kindly on any defendant whose attorney is violating ethics and lacking common decency? What jury would ever side with a man who beats up on kids in the press?

What should the school be doing? They MUST immediately apologize to the alleged victim and her family for the student attacks (that’s cyber-bullying). They MUST tell their students how to support Aldana quietly. They MUST show the Christian values that they charge $10,000+ a year to “impart” upon the student body. If they don’t, there are possibly dozens of other crime victims at that school who will never get help, never report, and never heal.

Whether or not Aldana is guilty, there are many people in south Orange County with blood on their hands.


11 thoughts on “**UPDATED** It is NEVER Okay To Defame A 14-Year-Old Crime Victim

  1. This is typical behavior for the Catholic Church. Back in the late 1990s many of the clergy abuse victims in New England would agree that their litigation was more tramatic than the abuse. The church hired high priced, pit-bull attorneys who did nothing but discredit any victim; many reduced to tears. We used to call it revictimizing the victim.

  2. This is just like Penn State which was outraged that Sandosky & Joe Paterno were fired over sex abuse. with a witness! Until the next day when candlelight vigils were held for victims. Finally the institution, Penn State, realized it was on the sides of the perpetrators.
    When did we get so nasty? Check out Congress.

  3. I am practicing Catholic, but feel a shame of those students.

    I will pray for the victim, may GOD gave her justice.

  4. As an outsider looking in, I am most disturbed that JSerra’s CEO Frank Talarico announced an “independent” committee via a public letter, to investigate policies announcing that retired OCSC Judge Pamela Iles was appointed by JSerra.

    Judge Iles supervised 10 felony lewd and lascivious conduct crimes filed by the OC District Attorney against a former Santa Margarita Catholic HS teacher Michael Karl Sandoval in May 2002. Sandoval pled guilty to the charges on November 7, 2002 and was sentenced to 365 days in jail and 5 years probation by Judge Iles. Not only does Sandoval’s sentence seem a bit lopsided to protect Sandoval and the Diocese of Orange from public scrutiny, but there was absolutely NO press coverage and/or public safety alert issued from the OC Sheriff’s Department, OC District Attorney or Diocese of Orange, after Sandoval pled guilty to the felonies. In addition, Judge Iles’ non-profit foundation also awarded the Diocese of Orange with an “AWARD” in 2005 for protecting children. HELLO PEOPLE…. what is wrong with this picture?

    There is no doubt the Diocese of Orange and JSerra have done and will continue to do many good things in this world. BUT, their track record for protecting children and respecting the human dignity of its teachers and coaches who do the right thing, as mandated reporters, are a disgrace! It is obvious that wealth and political influence dominate the Diocese of Orange and JSerra at the highest level of management. This new “independent” committee is just another SHAM, similar to Bishop Brown’s Covenant with the Faithful in 2004.

    No Catholic school and/or minor child anywhere deserves to be humiliated in public by an attorney licensed to practice law. Obviously, attorney Michael Molfetta who is also a football coach at JSerra is wearing too many hats in his representation of Mr. Aldana. Are the Diocese and JSerra protecting their public image and monetary assets, or responsible for protecting potential crime victims and their families? Is attorney Molfetta representing Mr. Aldana pro bono (free) or acting as an attorney who is responsible for serving his client as One Master? Whether Aldana is guilty or not, no Catholic school teacher or coach deserves to be publicly defamed before CRIMINAL charges have been filed or proven in a court of law.

    TO ALL CATHOLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS AND COACHES: You are dedicated employees working in the name of the Catholic Church and giving a beautiful gift of education to many students and families….. you deserve and have the right to be treated with human dignity in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church and the U.S. Constitution. Don’t be surprised when one of you are the next to be dragged through the mud because wealth and politics govern your employer–not human decency.

    TO BISHOP BROWN AND JSERRA ADMINISTRATORS: It is time to OPEN YOUR EYES and take off your blinders! Fire your current attorneys and public relations professionals — they continue to make fools of you and the faithful in the pews who still believe that Catholic education is the backbone of the Church. Too many children and families have been destroyed since the clergy sex abuse crisis publicly erupted in 2002 — please do the right thing — you have had plenty of time to do so.


  5. The school may not be owned by the Orange Diocese but if it is endorsed by the bishop he has the obligation of putting a stop to this disgusting travesty to the fullest extent possible. Will that happen? Probably not. This dynamic is not new. In numerous cases parishioners have flocked to the support of accused priests while dragging the victims, always minors, through the mud. The bottom line failure lies with the almighty institutional Catholic church for its gross failure to teach moral responsibility. Orthodoxy, pretty retro vestments and medieval titles are meaningless under any circumstances but when the bishops are more concerned about these and other elements of their self-trashed image the end result is a nightmare like the one so aptly described in this story.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree that it is never okay to defame a victim, no matter what the age of the victim. But it is also never okay to condemn an alleged perpetrator — no matter what the crime — until he/she has his/her day in court. Organizations such as SNAP are all too quick to be judge and jury against any alleged perpetrator BEFORE the perpetrator has had his/her day in court. And then they say supporters should show their support privately! Get real!

  7. have seen it over and over.. on maui several years ago a catholic deacon who was good at making money for the parish and got a statute of some saint for the church was arrested and charged with raping a 12 year old boy in the church for over a year.. the laity rallied round the deacon and trashed the victim.. they couldnt do enough for their great man of god who got them a statue.. long story short after pleading not guilty and going along with the mob he eventually gave them the finger and pled guilty and said “i did it” he got a deal.. these guys are sleazy.. i am sad about the 14 year old girl so many appear to be raped by priests yet the laity and juries and others who are pro priest and anti girls appear too often to find for the victim… age of consent means nothing when a grown man of god rapes any one no matter what the age..

    1. i meant to say”find against the victim” just saw another case today where another young teen girl who said she was abused by catholic priest had her case thrown out.. this happens so often that am starting to believe these are set up by the church/clergy in the first place to white wash the abuse of girls

    1. The US bishops wrote and signed a document back in 2002, the “Charter For The Protection Of Children”, which called for Zero Tolerance towards the Sexual Abuse/Rape of a “Child”.


      It is obvious that this is “Standard operating Procedure” with the rcc institution, to circle the wagons and rely on their blind(Ignorant) followers to publicly crucify the rcc’s victims. I see it in every case so far that has come to light.
      Joelle is right in saying…
      “Children who are victims of rape (no matter the perpetrator), incest, abuse, and domestic violence are NEVER going to come forward if they see that other victims are run over by the bus as school administrators and the rcc institution watch and smile”.

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