A single mother from San Francisco, California has come forward alleging sexual abuse by a trustee of her local Catholic church. The woman, Jhona Matthews, says the abuse included spankings with a paddle and forced sexual activities.
Matthews says the activities occurred over the course of a year in which she worked as a secretary at the church. The abuse was doled out by Bill McLaughlin, her supervisor at the church, and was done with the threat that she would be fired if she didn’t comply.
“Many of these sex acts and demands and the spankings occurred inside the shrine premises, in the sacristy of the shrine,” attorney Sandra Ribera said.
In the lawsuit filed by Matthews, she says the spankings given to her were done using paddle given to McLaughlin by a priest at the church. The paddle, Ribera said, has “the inscription ‘BNO,’ which stands for ‘boys night out.’ And it says, ‘To Bill M. from Father T.’”
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After almost a year of the alleged sexual abuse, Matthews told McLaughlin she wouldn’t comply anymore. She was promptly fired. The church, St. Francis of Assisi, released a statement on her firing saying it was over “financial improprieties that are the subject of an ongoing police investigation.”
The church also said Matthews’ sexual abuse claims are “full of lurid accusations but devoid of truth.”
Matthews’ attorney responded by saying that she is unaware of any improper money handling on her client’s behalf.
“Anything that she has done has been at the direction of Bill McLaughlin as her supervisor,” Ribera said.
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She added the shrine in which Matthews was allegedly abused is equipped with security cameras. The cameras will provide key evidence in the lawsuit.
McLaughlin, meanwhile, has been fired from his position at the church for unspecified reasons.