SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A former administrative assistant at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi in San Francisco’s North Beach is suing the Archdiocese over a culture of sexual retribution at the church that included forced sex acts on church grounds and spankings with a wooden paddle.
Jhona Mathews claims she began receiving sexually suggestive messages and demands for favors shortly after being hired by Bill McLaughlin, who worked at the Shrine as an employee of the Archdiocese, in 2012.
According to the lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court on January 29th, Mathews claims she forced to perform a variety of sex acts, sometimes on church grounds, as punishment for poor job performance. Mathews, a single mother, also claimed she went ahead with the sexual favors because she was desperate to keep her job at the church.
Mathews, 32, claims she was let go shortly after deciding to put an end to the sexual encounters. Rumors about sexual misconduct by McLaughlin, a Marin County real estate developer who headed the shrine’s volunteer program, started up last fall when the San Francisco Chronicle reported that McLaughlin had been let go after an investigation into misuse of funds.
In the complaint, Mathews claims McLaughlin spanked her bare buttocks with a paddle given to him by Monsignor James T. Tarantino, pastor at Saint Hilary’s church in Tiburon. The paddle was allegedly inscribed with the men’s names and the letters “BNO, which, according to the complaint, stands for Boys Night Out.
Mathews claims the sexual favors she was forced to perform included vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex as well as the spankings with the paddle – and that McLaughlin would insist that the sex acts take place in the Sacristy of the church.
According to the complaint, when Mathews ended the sexual advances, she was fired under false pretenses.
After her termination, the church filed a police report accusing Mathews had been embezzling money from the church. The church later fired McLaughlin after Mathews came forward with her accusations of coerced sex.
There has been no official comment from the San Francisco Archdiocese on the allegations.