Mater Dei High School football coaches and players referred to it as “Hell Week,” a string of twice-a-day workouts as the Monarchs prepared for football season shortly before the start of the 1987 school year.
Because of the workout schedule, and in an effort to build team chemistry, players and other students who worked with the team, managers, trainers, stat crew members, slept overnight at the Mater Dei gymnasium.
It was on one of the Hell Week nights that Patrick Callahan, a Mater Dei assistant football coach, allegedly led a 17-year-old stat girl, who was a student at the school, to the Monarchs’ nearby football field and raped her, according to a civil suit filed against Mater Dei and the Diocese of Orange in Orange County Superior Court Thursday.
Callahan repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl over a period of years at different places on the Mater Dei campus, at social functions, and at local restaurants, often in the presence of other Mater Dei coaches, according to a court filing. The suit also alleges Callahan repeatedly served the girl alcohol in the presence of other Mater Dei coaches.
The suit does not state whether the other coaches were aware that Callahan was sexually abusing the girl. The suit also does not name the other coaches who were allegedly present when the girl was served alcohol.
“The significance is that another victim of abuse at Mater Dei has come forward to uncover and expose the culture of abuse and cover-up that is rampant through the athletics of Mater Dei and its community,” said Michael Reck, an attorney for the woman.
Over a period of years, starting in 1985 when the girl was 16, Callahan “sexually assaulted (the) Plaintiff countless times over the years that (the) Plaintiff was a student at (Mater Dei),” according to the lawsuit. The Orange County Register is not naming the woman because of the nature of the allegations.
Callahan when asked about the lawsuit on Thursday said, “I don’t have any comment on that.”
He denied having sex with any minor age girls while coaching at Mater Dei. Callahan, who later worked as an assistant coach at Dodge City Community College in Kansas, said he was unaware of the Orange County diocese making payments to the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Thursday.
Diocese spokesperson Tracey Kincaid said “we have not yet been formally served with the complaint and as a matter of general practice we do not comment on pending litigation.”
The lawsuit was filed against the backdrop of a Mater Dei-commissioned investigation by a Sacramento law firm into the culture of the school’s football and athletic programs.
The investigation commissioned by then-Mater Dei president Father Walter Jenkins on Nov. 30 was in response to an Orange County Register report detailing an alleged hazing incident involving the Monarchs football team. A current Mater Dei football player punched a teammate, 50 pounds lighter than him, three times in the face during an alleged hazing ritual called “Bodies” on Feb. 4, 2021, while some Monarchs players present shouted racial epithets at the smaller player, according to two videos of the altercation obtained by the Register.
The suit filed Thursday alleges negligent supervision, negligent retention and negligent supervision of the plaintiff, then a minor.
Callahan, who also worked at Mater Dei as an assistant track and field coach, later coached football and track at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, and served as an assistant football coach at Cerritos College.
Callahan was sentenced to two years in jail in 2006 for falsifying government documents in order to secure more than $150,000 in federal grants for athletes who were not eligible for the financial aid.
Callahan admitted fraudulently obtaining federal financial aid grant money for 13 Cerritos football players between July 1999 and March 2004, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
The suit alleging sexual assault was filed under a California law that allows sexual abuse victims to finally confront in court their abusers and the organizations that protected predators.
Assembly Bill 218, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2020, created a three-year window to file past claims that had expired under the statute of limitations. The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), also extends the statute of limitations for reporting childhood sexual abuse from the time a victim is age 26 to 40. The period for delayed reasonable discovery is also increased from three to five years. The law requires that plaintiffs meet a mental health practitioner and receive a certificate of merit to file under AB218. The woman has received a certificate of merit, Reck said.
Alleged survivors must file civil suits within eight years of becoming an adult or three years from the date an adult survivor “discovers” or should have discovered they were sexually abused, under current California law.
Under the 2019 law, defendants cannot be publicly identified in complaints until the judge formally accepts the case. The initial filings can list the addresses of defendants, however. The addresses of the diocese and Mater Dei are both listed for the two defendants in Thursday’s filing. Reck also confirmed that Mater Dei and the diocese are named in filings with the court.
The girl first met Callahan at a track camp on the Mater Dei campus in 1984, according to the suit. In the following months Callahan groomed her for sexual abuse, the suit alleges. Callahan allegedly began sexually assaulting her in 1985 when she was 16, Reck said.
Callahan “sexually molested, assaulted and abused Plaintiff on the premises owned, operated, and controlled by Defendants (Diocese of Orange) and (Mater Dei), including, without limitation, on the school campus of (Mater Dei),” according to a court filing.
As an assistant to Callahan and Mater Dei, the girl, the suit alleges “was forced to accompany Callahan to various athletic events of or sponsored by (Mater Dei). These athletic events were both on and off the high school campus of (Mater Dei) during the day and night, and included dinners at restaurants and other venues in California where alcohol was served to Plaintiff by (Callahan) and where other coaches and agents of (Mater Dei) were present. Often during these dinners, the PERPETRATOR sexually assaulted Plaintiff while they were sitting at the table with the other coaches and agents of (Mater Dei) present.”
“In his capacity as a track coach and/or an assistant football coach of (Mater Dei), PERPETRATOR often gave alcohol to Plaintiff, then a minor, to consume,” the suit said.
“Why did Mater Dei, why did the adults present during these times not raise a red flag?” Reck said.
The diocese has been aware of the allegations since 2011 when officials agreed to pay for the woman’s counseling, Reck said.
“Why hasn’t the diocese said anything?” Reck said.
Longtime Mater Dei head football coach Bruce Rollinson was not named in the suit. He was an assistant coach on the staff at the time.
Source: OC Register