The new downtown San Diego Superior Court and satellite courts will have new download charges starting Jan. 1, 2021.
The downtown San Diego Superior Court. Photo by Chris Stone

A man who alleges a former Catholic priest repeatedly molested him when he was a young boy, then continued to be active at parishes within the Diocese of San Diego for decades, said Tuesday he decided to file a lawsuit to protect children.

Beau Potter, now 54 years old, alleges Father Ramon Marrufo molested him in Rialto over the course of several years in the 1970s, beginning when the plaintiff was in second grade. Prior to 1978, the Diocese of San Diego stretched into portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Marrufo was ordained in 1976 and was assigned to various locations across San Diego County, including churches in San Diego, Oceanside, Chula Vista, Vista, Fallbrook and Escondido, according to the lawsuit, which alleges his most recent assignment was at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Parish and School in Fallbrook from 2010 until 2019.

Potter’s lawsuit names the Diocese of San Diego as a defendant along with the Diocese of San Bernardino and two San Bernardino County schools, where he alleges he was sexually abused by Marrufo and later by another priest.

The complaint filed in San Diego Superior Court does not indicate incidents of abuse at parishes in San Diego County, though Potter and his attorneys allege the Diocese was aware of allegations against Marrufo for more than a year and neglected to notify the schools and parishes where he was assigned.

Potter’s attorneys allege a separate victim brought forth allegations regarding Marrufo to the Diocese and received a settlement through its Independent Compensation Program, which was established in 2019 for victims who were sexually abused as minors by San Diego diocesan priests.

A Diocese spokesman said he could not comment on the specific allegations outlined in the lawsuit as the Diocese has not yet been served with the suit, but did confirm a settlement was reached with an alleged victim of Marrufo’s through the Independent Compensation Program.

Michael Reck, one of Potter’s attorneys, said, “The possibility of an accused child sex abuser being in charge of children as recently as 2019 is a public safety nightmare. The lack of action from church leadership for the last year shatters any remaining illusion of ethically-sound leadership.”

In a news conference announcing the lawsuit, Potter said he chose to file the suit under his true name rather than a John Doe alias, as is common for alleged victims of sexual abuse, because “it’s important my name gets out there, because it’s important the perpetrators know the pain they caused me…”

“I don’t want any more children being hurt and to suffer from the pain and agony that I suffered through in my young life and into adulthood,” he said. “This is something that can be stopped and it needs to stop with these bishops calling out these priests.”

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