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Diocese of Tucson accused of covering up sexual abuse

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The Diocese of Tucson is being accused of a sexual abuse cover-up.

Forester Haynie Law Firm says it has filed a racketeering lawsuit against the Diocese of Tucson and others for allegedly producing and funneling a disproportionate number of sexual predators to Tucson.

An alleged victim of Father Charles Knapp has joined a lawsuit that claims childhood sexual abuse and a cover-up by the Diocese of Tucson, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Saint John's Seminary.

Survivors and supporters gathered Monday morning outside of the church to show support for the clergy abuse victims.

The victims are joined by the group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

According to SNAP, Father Knapp remains a priest in the Diocese of Tucson despite church officials having acknowledged his abuse.

"We want to speak up and get the message out that it's not okay for the church to just be moving pedophiles to other dioceses, knowing that other children would be abused," said Mary O'day, a Phoenix leader of SNAP.

The attorney of this case says the plaintiffs are pursuing racketeering claims against the Diocese of Tucson due to an ongoing effort to hinder criminal investigations and prosecutions involving the sexual abuse of minors.

The diocese responded with a statement saying that they employed a professional investigator who interviewed Father Knapp and 16 potential witnesses. However, the diocese says none of the witnesses were able to confirm the complainant's allegation.

One of the alleged victims, Diana Almader-Douglas, says she was molested at the age of five by Charles Knapp.

"I feel like the priest had groomed me well before this one incident by, you know, playfulness," Almader-Douglas said. "And it just escalated from there."

Almader-Douglas claims her life and the lives of her parents were threatened if she were to say anything.

SNAP encourages all victims of abuse to reach out for help and support.

"The effects of abuse are life-long. They're psychological. They're emotional. They're physical," Almader-Douglas said. "Abuse doesn't end when the incident ends, we have to live and cope with this and learn how to recover."

After their investigation, the diocese review board found the allegations could not be reasonably substantiated and recommended father Knapp be restored to public ministry.

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Mark Mingura

Mark Mingura joined KVOA as a Multi Media Journalist in October 2019. Originally from the valley and with ties to Tucson, Mark is excited to get back to his home state and tell the stories of the Old Pueblo.

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