California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Sept. 19.

How the San Diego Diocese kept abuse allegations secret.
L.A. looks to become the biggest U.S. city to ban fur.
And a bullet train linking Southern California to Las Vegas.

The lede


Church secrets

Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests held a protest in front of St. Joseph's Cathedral in San Diego in 2007.

Denis Poroy/A.P.

After a priest was accused of sexual misconduct with minors, the San Diego Diocese not only kept the allegations secret, it recommended the priest to continue ministering — including to children.

The Rev. J. Patrick Foley was accused of abusing two boys in the Sacramento area in the 1990s, claims that Foley denied. But Catholic officials deemed them credible.

Even so, according to KQED, San Diego's Monsignor Steven Callahan wrote of Foley in a 2012 recommendation: "He is a person of good moral character and reputation." And this: "I am unaware of anything in his background that would render him unsuitable to work with children."

Catholic leaders in California have faced renewed pressure to reckon with past wrongs after a Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed that children had been molested by more than 300 priests. Dioceses in San Diego, San Jose, and San Bernardino have either named or announced plans to name priests credibly accused of abusing children.

Read about the San Diego case at KQED.




Rep. Jeff Denham, center, at a news conference with Rep. Mario Diaz Balart of Florida in June. The San Joaquin Valley Republican is facing a close reelection fight.

Andrew Harnik/A.P.

Of California’s 53 congressional seats, just 14 are held by Republicans. But half of those Republican-led districts voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. If the November midterms are all about Trump — whose approval in the state has gone from bad to worse — they lose. Here's a breakdown.


Tuesday morning, Christine Blasey Ford’s personal address was posted on Twitter by someone who said her allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett ­Kavanaugh were a hoax orchestrated by the "deranged left." Another tweet claimed to show an aerial photo of her house. Ford's now in hiding. If the Bay Area professor thought her life would be turned upside after coming forward, she was right.


Kevin de León has called President Trump a "wannabe dictator" who should be impeached. But he agrees with him on one point: Sen. Diane Feinstein blew it. De León, who is challenging Feinstein this November, said her delay in telling the F.B.I. about Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations amounted to a "failure of leadership." A Feinstein consultant responded: "He is a classic losing candidate."


Jerry Brown, right, with his parents Edmund and Bernice Brown in 1982.

U.C. Berkeley, Bancroft Library

A new book on the Brown political dynasty by Miriam Pawel, a Pulitzer winner, has been winning praise. A critic at the N.Y. Times called it "fascinating." Another at the S.F. Chronicle wrote: "Pawel’s narrative is unflaggingly direct, but it also functions as deep art, for the book is actually a history of California posing as a family portrait."


Rising before dawn, workers cut, clean, and trim celery stalks at a rate of 10 every 30 seconds. Here's a short video showing how hard California's farm laborers work at harvest time.


Northern California


Elon Musk's Twitter posts have been landing him in trouble.

Tesla is under investigation by the Justice Department after its chief executive, Elon Musk, said on Twitter last month that he had lined up funding to convert the publicly traded electric-car maker into a private company. He later abandoned the market-moving plans. The criminal probe isn't Musk's only headache. He was sued this week by the British diver whom Musk accused of being a pedophile.


This month, a federal appeals court ruled that cities cannot prosecute homeless people for sleeping on public property when no alternative shelter is available. Now Modesto is letting its homeless population take over a park that had been closed for years. "It allows us to look at long-term solutions," a police official said.


Marci Kitchen was sentenced to prison for drunkenly running over and killing her teen daughter and another girl, then fleeing the scene, in a case that has captivated Humboldt County for more than two years. Kitchen's 19-year-old son spoke in court — and asked the judge to impose the maximum penalty. "I will forever hate her with all my soul," he said. The judge gave Kitchen eight years.


Swimmers at the Sutro Baths in an undated photo.

San Francisco Public Library

Adolph Sutro, a 19th-century mining tycoon known for his acts of generosity, once built a giant complex of fresh and saltwater swimming pools in San Francisco that was open to all. The Sutro Baths had slides, springboards, and a high dive. It was closed in 1966. The S.F. Chronicle just dug up a bunch of great long-lost photos from their archive.


Southern California


Animal rights activists called for a fur ban in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Richard Vogel/A.P.

Los Angeles is poised to become the biggest city in America to ban the sale of fur. The City Council voted unanimously to draft an ordinance that would prohibit the manufacture and sale of new fur products. "We feel like we're evolving as a city, as people, to stop this kind of unnecessary cruelty," a councilman said. San Francisco approved a ban last March.


Dr. Grant William Robicheaux, 38, and Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, face felony counts including rape by drugs and oral copulation by anesthesia.

Orange County District Attorney's Office

Prosecutors accused a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend of drugging and raping two women, and said they suspect there could be many additional victims. The surgeon, Dr. Grant William Robicheaux, appeared on a reality TV show. Officials said his phone contained "thousands and thousands of videos and images" that suggested a pattern of predatory acts.


The police are investigating the death of a 20-year-old U.C. Riverside student after a family member said hazing may have been a factor. Tyler Hilliard was a pledge in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, whose members included Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall. Hilliard's family said they found texts on his phone referring to "gold paddle day."


Brightline, a train company from Miami, announced plans to take over a high-speed rail project connecting Victorville and Las Vegas. It would be operational by 2022 and trip would take less than two hours. Brightline's president said America is ready for high-speed rail. "Our model is based on city pairs that are ‘too short to fly and too long to drive,’ making passenger rail a viable alternative."


There's a guy with a metal detector in Los Angeles that will show up day or night to help you find your lost wedding ring — and he doesn't charge — though he'll take a tip. "I know I didn't save their marriage," he said of a couple he helped recently, "but it still means a lot to them."


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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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