District attorneys remain skeptical of how transparent the process will be. Madera County DA Sally Moreno, who took office in January, said she sped up the timeline to review church records, after recent allegations were made against a longtime Bakersfield priest Monsignor Craig Harrison.
In April, two men accused Harrison of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers in the 1980s and 1990s.
Harrison served as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Bakersfield for nearly two decades. He is also the chaplain for the Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff’s Office.
According to a diocese press release, one man said Harrison had inappropriately touched him when he was between 14 and 16 years old. According to police, the abuse allegedly occurred in Firebaugh, where Harrison worked as a priest from 1992-1999.
Also in April, Father Hector David Mendoza-Vela, the pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Fremont, told police that he touched the genitals of a teenage boy over his pants at least 20 times over an 18-month period.
At the moment, Becerra's request for church records is voluntary. But Piscitelli hopes that if the churches do not comply, the state Attorney General will subpoena the documents.
"Then we'll see the true magnitude of what was going on in California," he said.
KQED reporters Polly Stryker, Alexandra Hall, and Sara Hossaini contributed information for this story.