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Sex Abuse Victim Quits Panel

Times Staff Writer

A second molestation victim has quit a committee formed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange to protect minors from sexual abuse, church officials acknowledged Friday.

The reason behind the resignation was unknown. The chairwoman of the Sexual Misconduct Oversight and Review Board said the resignation letter was confidential and the victim declined to comment.

(The Times does not name victims of sexual abuse without their consent.)

The resignation leaves the Orange diocese with no victims on the committee, which now consists of four independent laypeople, a priest and a nun.

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Church officials appointed two victims of priest abuse last year, after the national sex abuse scandal began, to serve as victim advocates on the board. Its job is to review allegations of priest misconduct and make recommendations to the bishop.

The first resignation came in December when Joelle Casteix, 32, left the board, calling it “a public-relations sham preoccupied with protecting the good names of the priests.”

Casteix said her colleague’s decision to leave the board “was entirely predictable. They have no understanding how devastating child molestation is.”

Casteix, who owns a Corona del Mar marketing and public relations firm, filed a lawsuit July 8 against the diocese for alleged sexual abuse committed by a teacher from 1986 to 1988 at the church-operated Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.

Board Chairwoman Barbara J. Phillips, a former Montana judge and former director of a nonprofit victims’ advocacy program in Orange County, said the committee members were saddened to see another victim resign.

"[He] brought a tremendous gift to our board,” said Phillips, who added that the committee hoped to have other molestation victims apply to the board. “We were very, very sorry to see him leave.”

Phillips said the issues the committee examines can trigger emotional pain in abuse victims.

“My belief is that it’s very difficult for a victim to work in this kind of capacity when they have experienced the kind of violation and pain they had as children,” she said.

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