“Padre Jeff” as he is known to his youth ministry in Tijuana, Mexico is a front and center part of a fraud and negligence lawsuit just filed against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. An unidentified man alleges that Padre Jeff, better known in the U.S. as Father Jeffrey Newell, sexually abused him 16 years ago in Fresno and was promised that he would be removed as a priest and he in turn did not file suit against the church. Much to his horror the alleged victim recently discovered Newell was a priest in Tijuana, Mexico in charge of a youth ministry that conducted overnight trips for area teens. The Tijuana diocese maintains that Newell has no complaints leveled against him in the 17 years he has served the community.
This is the second such case in California but these type of cases are on the rise as the grace period to file abuse charges lapses. In Minnesota alone there are 20 such fraud cases pending before the courts. The basis of the fraud and negligence charge in this case stem from the Church making promises to remove a priest from the church, the church reneging on that promise, and acting negligently by placing him in another diocese even if its an international one.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has thus far paid out more than $800 million in settlements. It is unknown how the judicial system will view these type of cases and if the Church will incur additional financial damage as a result.