Fr. Leonardo Mateo – Diocese of Richmond

Father Leonardo Mateo

Diocese of Richmond

Ordained: 1956

Left diocese: 1984

Removed: 1991

Died: 2004

Assigned as follows:

  • 1956-1959      Cathedral (Tagbilaran City, Philippines)
  • 1959-1960      St. Vibiana’s and St. Anastasia’s (Los Angeles, CA)
  • 1960-1965      Greenpoint Hospital (Brooklyn, NY)
  • 1965-1975      Diocese of Tagbilaran (Philippines)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Leonardo Mateo:

Father Leonardo Mateo was an extern priest from the Philippines. He arrived at the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1959. According to media reports, he began sexually abusing children within days of his arrival. As a result, Father Mateo left L.A. in 1960 and was transferred back and forth between the US and the Philippines. 

In 1977, he arrived at the Diocese of Joliet, where allegations of child sexual abuse were made in 1983 and 1991. More allegations surfaced in Chicago, and Tagbilaran, Philippines. He was accused of molesting boys at Immaculate Conception in Elmhurst. No charges were filed, on the condition he leave the parish. Despite this, he was permitted to continue to work with kids.

Father Mateo admitted to molesting boys in swimming pools. His victims said they were also abused at the movies and in the priest’s room. Fellow priests reportedly witnessed boys entering and exiting Mateo’s room, but did nothing. 

Father Mateo left the diocese in 1984 and returned to the Archdiocese of Cebu in the Philippines. In 2003, he was named in a lawsuit alleging child sexual abuse in California in 1959. 

In March 2013, Father Mateo‘s name was added to the Diocese of Joliet’s list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors. In April 2014, his personnel files were released as part of a settlement with one of his victims. Many of his victims known to the diocese were as young as 10 years old, yet he was not reported to authorities.

In April 2014, Father Mateo was named in a new civil suit alleging child sexual abuse. In September 2014, another suit was filed by three men alleging abuse in Joliet in 1980. The claim was settled in August 2018 for $1.4 million. 

In June 2019, Father Mateo‘s name was added to the Diocese of Richmond’s updated list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors.

faculties are revoked. He died in 2004 in the Philippines having never faced criminal charges.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Richmond.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Richmond, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Richmond now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.