The Sacramento Bee has more background this morning about the excommunication of Father Jeremy Leatherby:
Leatherby was suspended in 2016 to investigate “credible allegations of ministerial boundary violations with an adult woman,” the diocese said in an August 2018 memo to priests that The Sacramento Bee obtained.
The woman’s lawyer, Bruce Ebert of Roseville, said the 18-month relationship with the woman who taught at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish school in the Arden Arcade area was consensual, but it never should have happened.
“Father Leatherby, from what I’ve been able to learn… he has a very dynamic personality, and people think he’s God,” Ebert said. “She really believed he was a saintly figure and felt she had to do everything that he told her to do.”
The Sacramento Bee isn’t identifying the woman. She didn’t respond to an interview request.
Though he admits the relationship was inappropriate, Leatherby denies having sexual contact with the woman.
“Believe me, there is another side,” he said in a letter to his followers. “I could expose much, but have refrained all this time. I don’t need or want to ruin other people’s lives, marriage or families, even at the cost of my own. But I guarantee you that I have solid evidence that severely undercuts and disproves the venom being spread about me.”
He and his family believe they’ve been victimized by [Bishop Jaime] Soto for allowing the investigation to drag on for four years without resolution.
“He believes Soto has abused his authority,” said Jeremy Leatherby’s father, Dave Leatherby Jr. “It has been a great suffering …. It has been a humiliation, not just for him. My family has a public name.”
…At one point during his suspension, Jeremy Leatherby was sent to the St. John Vianney Center, a church-run facility in Pennsylvania where members of the Catholic clergy are sent for counseling and treatment. He spent five months there before being allowed to leave, according to his letter.
Soto, who oversees a territory stretching from Vallejo to the Oregon border, also insisted Leatherby’s excommunication was unrelated to the allegations that led to the 2016 suspension. Rather, it was Leatherby’s insistence on holding Mass in parishioners’ homes during the coronavirus pandemic, when churches have been closed, and what he did and didn’t say during those services.
And there’s more. Mike Lewis’s blog Where Peter Is has additional details, describing how some contend Father Leatherby was punished for being a “whistleblower,” and how his supporters describe the priest as “the dry martyr of Sacramento.”
UPDATE: Christopher Altieri has more in the Catholic Herald regarding some of the disturbing charges against the priest. Details:
The Catholic Herald has learned that the Sacramento priest excommunicated for schism earlier this month is accused of grave crimes, including sexual abuse of at least one adult woman, spiritual and psychological abuse, abuse of the Sacrament of Confession and other Sacraments, and multiple violations of the Seal of Confession.
Church officials in both Sacramento and Rome declined to comment on the investigation or canonical process, but the nature of the allegations the Catholic Herald has heard from one of his victims is such, that under Church law, the crimes of which Fr. Jeremy Leatherby of Sacramento is accused would be tried in the tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Catholic Herald has obtained several documents supporting her construction of events and showing that Church officials including the Bishop of Sacramento, Jaime Soto, believe she did suffer serious abuse and are deeply consternated by the delay of justice in her case.
The accuser – who has requested anonymity as a victim of sexual abuse and because she and her family have faced threats and intimidation from supporters of Fr. Leatherby – alleges that Fr. Leatherby initially invited her into a “spiritual friendship” with him, modeled on the friendship of Sts. Francis and Claire of Assisi, and then used that relationship to manipulate her, threaten her marriage, and upend her life.
Read on. Be forewarned: some of the details are graphic.