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Mahony Resources – June 1–14, 2002

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Mahony Ads Seek to Reassure Public
Scandal: In three newspapers Thursday, the cardinal will outline the L.A. archdiocese's policies to prevent sexual abuse by priests

By Beth Shuster and Richard Winton
LA Times
June 4, 2002

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-060402ad,1,1522962.story

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony will be featured this week in full-page ads in three Los Angeles newspapers, reassuring the public that he is taking significant steps to prevent future abuse by priests in his archdiocese.

Written as an open letter to residents of Los Angeles and surrounding communities, Mahony repeats many proposals previously announced in news conferences and interviews. The cardinal's newly hired public relations firm, Sitrick and Co., is behind the ad campaign, believing that the cardinal "had a good story to tell" readers, said Tod Tamberg, the archdiocese spokesman.

The ads will appear Thursday in the Los Angeles Times, Daily News and La Opinion and will cost less than $50,000, Tamberg said. The archdiocese, which is seeking a benefactor to pay for the ads, is attempting to show that "we're doing everything humanly possible to ensure that these situations do not occur again. Nothing from the past will be repeated again," Tamberg said. The ad comes a week before the U.S. Conference of Bishops in Dallas, which is expected to be dominated by discussions of the nationwide abuse scandal.

About 50 former and current priests are under investigation by authorities in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for sexually abusing minors.

Mahony last month apologized to priests and parishioners for reassigning one priest who continued abusing minors for more than a decade in the 1980s and 1990s after confessing to the cardinal, who ordered counseling for the man rather than firing him.

In another case, Mahony apologized for transferring a priest accused of sexual abuse to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he served as chaplain.

Mary Grant, Southern California organizer of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, denounced Mahony's ad campaign.

"They should be publishing an apology and contact number for the police," she said. "They should be placing an ad saying they have covered up clergy abuse for years. It should read: Parents beware."

In the ads scheduled to appear Thursday, Mahony said there will be no exceptions to his zero-tolerance policy, which requires the firing of priests who abuse minors. He said he will urge the bishops next week to adopt a national policy "as comprehensive as the one in place here: zero tolerance--past, present and future.''

Mahony has called his policy the toughest in the nation, which was required by the settlement of a lawsuit in December. The victim in that case, Ryan DiMaria, was awarded $5.2 million from the Los Angeles and the Orange County archdioceses. The settlement also called for 11 changes to diocesan policies, including zero tolerance.

In his letter, Mahony said he is creating a Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board, headed by Richard Byrne, the retired presiding Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

In April, Byrne helped arrange for an after-hours hearing when a lawyer for the archdiocese sought a court order to prevent The Times from publishing e-mails written by Mahony and other archdiocese officials. The Times prevailed and published the e-mails, which had been leaked to KFI radio.

Under Mahony's proposal, the clergy misconduct board will be expanded to 15 members and be given "broad new powers to review and strengthen all of our programs to end sexual abuse." Tamberg would not disclose those powers.

Nanette de Fuentes, a psychologist and founding member of the board, said she does not expect the group to function dramatically differently. The board will meet Wednesday to discuss the details of the proposed changes.

"We feel positive," Fuentes said. "He wants to look at the mistakes and move forward."

The cardinal also is calling for fingerprinting and criminal background checks for all priesthood candidates in the archdiocese.

Further, Mahony said that any new allegations of sexual abuse will be referred immediately to police and the accused priest will be removed from active ministry until the case is resolved.

"Sexual abuse is a grave evil, a sin and a crime," Mahony said. "I state to you unequivocally that it will not be tolerated.... There will be no exceptions."

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley has threatened to initiate a grand jury proceeding to recover all archdiocese documents related to past sex abuse.

Times staff writer Glenn F. Bunting contributed to this report.


Mahony Is Falsely Accused in PR Snafu

By Beth Shuster
LA Times
June 5, 2002

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-060502mahony,1,42348.story

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's spin machine spun out of control Tuesday.

A week after hiring the high-priced crisis management and public relations firm Sitrick and Co., the Los Angeles Archdiocese issued a news release announcing an allegation of sexual misconduct against Mahony, as well as the cardinal's emphatic denial.

A man claimed that he was forced to inappropriately touch Mahony two decades ago in Stockton, the release said. But the alleged victim told The Times that he never made such an accusation.

In fact, he said in a telephone interview, he has never met the cardinal.

The man said he had sent the archdiocese in Stockton a letter earlier this week, saying that he was ashamed of the way the church has handled sexual abuse by priests. The man said he wrote, "I want to see his face in court," referring to Mahony, who was the bishop of Stockton from 1980 to 1985.

Tod Tamberg, a Mahony spokesman, said the archdiocese learned from The Times late Tuesday that the Stockton man had not accused Mahony of any sexual impropriety. The archdiocese released a second news release, titled "Archdiocese Receives Independent Corroboration That Allegation of Sexual Abuse Against Cardinal Roger Mahony Is False."

In the first news release, Mahony denied the allegation, saying that he has "never engaged in any sexual activity, abuse or misconduct with anyone throughout my 40 years as a priest and a bishop." Mahony said he urged his representatives to alert Stockton police and asked for "an immediate and full investigation." Mahony, in the release, pledged his full cooperation.

Tamberg said Mahony learned of the allegation from archdiocese lawyers. They told the cardinal that the man's grandmother had reported to Mahony in 1982 that a priest molested him. After that conversation, the victim--who was about 10--alleged that Mahony took him aside and encouraged the boy to inappropriately touch him, according to the news release.

"I do not know anyone by the name of the individual making the allegation, nor do I know his grandmother," Mahony said in his statement for the media.

The 33-year-old Stockton man, whose name is being withheld at his request, said he had "issues" with Father Oliver O'Grady, a Stockton priest who was accused of molesting two brothers and was then moved to another parish by Mahony, where he continued to molest.

O'Grady's victims won a $30-million jury verdict, which was later negotiated to $7 million. Mahony testified in the civil trial that he was unaware of the accusations against O'Grady when he transferred him.

In April, a Fresno woman with a history of mental illness claimed that Mahony molested her 32 years ago. The cardinal, who denied the allegations, was cleared by police.


The embattled bishop
Priest finds himself in middle of L.A. Archdiocese's sex scandal

By Tom Kisken kisken@insidevc.com
Ventura County (CA) Star
June 9, 2002

http://www.insidevc.com/vcs/county_news/article/0,1375,VCS_226_1641798,00.html

Thomas J. Curry knew the Rev. Michael Baker had a problem with children about 14 years before the Los Angeles area priest was ousted from the ministry after molestation accusations.

Curry, now bishop of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties within the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was vicar of clergy when Baker came to him in the mid-1980s after a sabbatical and acknowledged "a problem with regards to minors."

Refusing to offer more specifics, Curry helped make controversial decisions to send Baker to a sexual disorders treatment center and allow his return to a limited ministry that ended two years ago after a complaint against the archdiocese from a pair of brothers who allege they were molested into the 1990s.

During his five years of supervising the archdiocese's priests as vicar of clergy, Curry also dealt with the Rev. Michael Wempe, a former Ventura County associate pastor being sued by two men who say they were molested as children living in the Conejo Valley in the 1970s and '80s. Curry wrote letters to another accused priest, the Rev. Santiago Tamayo, advising him to stay out of the country and acknowledging the archdiocese was still paying his salary.

As controversy blazes around Cardinal Roger Mahony and accused priests who once served in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties, the flames have flickered near this respected, quiet auxiliary bishop from Ireland. Some go as far as to link him with the poisonous core of the scandals: leaders who opted to protect the church instead of cleansing it.

"He's been in the middle of the conspiracy to keep the secret and conceal the wrongdoing and protect himself and obvious predators," said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer handling a lawsuit filed in May that accuses Baker of abusing four former altar boys and also alleges a cover-up that archdiocese officials have denied. "He is an aider and abetter to Cardinal Mahony."

Curry said there was never any attempt to hide any person or crime. He said that in his years working with Mahony as vicar of clergy, pedophilia was viewed as similar to alcoholism -- a sickness that could, in some cases, be controlled with therapy, allowing people to continue as effective leaders in controlled, limited ministries.

Now he thinks differently.

In an interview at the former Santa Barbara convent that is now his home and office, the 59-year-old bishop defended himself but also talked about living with the allegations that a priest he helped send back into ministry continued to abuse children.

"My reaction is I wish I could relive the past. If I had to do it again, we wouldn't have put people back in the ministry at all," he said, advocating the archdiocese's current policy of removing offending priests from ministry no matter when the abuse happened.

The area priests with whom Curry has worked for about eight years as regional bishop under Mahony say it is inevitable his name has emerged in the flood of lawsuits and accusations because dealing with trouble is part of being vicar of clergy. They say his only mistake is in being judged today for decisions made more than 10 years ago.

"There's been an evolution in how these kind of things are dealt with," said the Rev. Pasquale Vuoso of St. Sebastian Church in Santa Paula, referring to pedophilia and other sexual disorders. He characterized much of the criticism as Monday-morning quarterbacking. "Based on what we feel now, we're making judgments on what happened in the past."

Anderson claims Mahony and Curry knew and concealed Baker's molestation. He said that in Tamayo's case, Curry was part of a plan to keep the priest quiet and out of the country.
Though not a defendant in any of the lawsuits, Curry is an unnamed co-conspirator, Anderson said, laughing at a query of whether the bishop will be deposed.

"Is water wet?" he said.

Some observers say that if the accusations are true, Curry should resign. Others direct their anger not at the bishop but at his superior, Mahony, who made final decisions on reassigning troubled priests.

Dan Crisafulli, a Catholic from Agoura Hills, knows nothing about Curry or his work as vicar of clergy but is enraged at a scandal he sees splintering the church. Ask him about the targets of his anger and he talks first of offending priests and then diocesan insiders.

"I guess I'm angrier at the people who know that it's going on and cover it up," he said. "Who do you trust? I think people are to the point where they don't trust anyone."

'A very dirty job'

Curry has a doctorate in history and has written two books exploring separation of church and state. Born in County Cavan, Ireland, he is a former associate parish pastor and high school teacher who was promoted to lead an archdiocesan program for clergy continuing education. He was nominated by fellow priests in 1986 to become vicar of clergy, a newly created position consolidating responsibilities previously shared by different offices.

Answering to Mahony, newly named archbishop of Los Angeles, Curry had responsibilities that included assigning priests to parishes and dealing with any problems.

"He had a very dirty job -- the most difficult job in the diocese," said Paul Ford, a teacher at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo who has known Curry for 15 years. "When priests get in trouble or fall off the wagon, (the vicar) gets the call."

He was among the first to know when priests were accused of sexual misconduct with minors. He said it happened fewer than a dozen times in his about five years as vicar.

"We'd call the priests and present them with allegations and give them a chance to respond," he said. In most instances, the priests would challenge some of the allegations but admit to problems, he said.

The policy that Curry helped create was to have the priests assessed by a mental health professional, usually at a sexual disorders treatment center. Baker and Wempe were both sent to the Servants of the Paraclete facility in Jemez Springs, N.M.

The center became embroiled in its own controversies regarding former patients who allegedly continued to molest. It was shut down in the mid-1990s. But during Curry's tenure as vicar, the archdiocese relied heavily on center therapists in determining whether to reassign priests to ministry after going through the treatment program.

"If they said 'yes, they're cooperating, yes, they're in fairly good shape,' we'd put them back, always in a limited capacity," Curry said, noting the intent was to keep the priests away from children's ministries. He consulted with Mahony on the final decision.

For the Rev. Michael Wempe, limited capacity meant serving as a chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Wempe, removed from ministry earlier this year by Mahony, served as an associate pastor at several parishes in and around Ventura County.Curry said he was told by another priest in the late 1980s that Wempe, then finishing a stint at St. Sebastian Church in Santa Paula, flatly refused to follow archdiocese policies. He was allegedly spending time alone in his room with children and even taking them with him on a vacation.

Noting he wasn't aware of any specific molestation accusations against the priest, Curry said Wempe was sent to the New Mexico treatment center before being reassigned to the hospital. The bishop talked about Mahony's earlier reported claims he didn't realize Cedars-Sinai had a children's ward.

"I just don't think we thought of that," Curry said.

Though hospital officials say there were no complaints against Wempe during his about 14 years as chaplain, the alleged oversight has become almost a kick-me sign affixed to the archdiocese. Upon being told many people just don't believe the statement, Curry looked down at the table where he was seated.

"I know, I know," he said, again asserting the story's validity. "That (the pediatrics ward) just didn't come up."

To accept the words is to accept that archdiocese leaders are simple-minded, said Lee Bashforth of Newport Beach, who alleges that Wempe molested him and his brother when they lived in the Conejo Valley. He contends the reassignment was just one of many ways church leaders showed their priority was protecting the church.

"These guys are a lot of things. One of the things they're not is stupid," he said. "It's just not reality."

He doesn't know Curry but thinks people involved in the reassignment of offending priests need to pay a price.

"Anybody who's been involved in the cover-up and reassignment of serial predators of children, their penalty should be for them to lose their position," he said, later returning to the point. "These are frigging animals on the loose they have responsibility for."

Compelled to pay

Curry said that if priests would have been accused of any kind of sexual misconduct after being reassigned, they would have been pulled out of the ministry. He said the archdiocese never used parish transfers to hide accusations.

Because of pending lawsuits, Curry won't answer questions about whether there were investigations to look for possible victims of Wempe or Baker.

"I think we were very concerned about the victims," he said. "This was new to most of us. We were learning how to respond."

Curry also won't discuss reports that police were not contacted when Michael Baker admitted his molestations, except to say that a meeting where Mahony allegedly said authorities should not be notified is fiction. Curry did note that the California law mandating clergy report child abuse didn't come until 1997 and said that in his years as vicar of clergy, victims were told they had the right to decide whether to notify police.

Anderson's lawsuits paint Curry as a participant in a conspiracy to hide the Rev. Santiago Tamayo, accused of being one of seven priests to molest a 16-year-old girl. Curry wrote a 1987 letter denying that priest, who had moved to the Philippines, his request to return to the archdiocese. He encouraged him to stay where he was and apply to work as a priest there.

"While you are pursuing this possibility, the archdiocese would like to pay you a salary," Curry wrote in letters that have been included in several lawsuits.

Anderson said Tamayo was paid to stay away to protect the archdiocese from liability and to avoid further scandal. Curry noted allegations against Tamayo had already been expressed, noting a lawsuit against the priest had been filed several years before his letter. It was dismissed because of the statute of limitations.

He said there was nothing left to hide.

"We believed there was no place for him in the archdiocese. We told him it was only going to cause more hurt," he said.

Tamayo, now deceased, did eventually return to the United States and admitted to a sexual relationship with the girl.

As far as the payments, Curry said, the archdiocese was compelled by canon law to continue Tamayo's salary unless he became a priest in another area or was expelled in a process that takes years. He said that if Tamayo had applied to become a priest in the Philippines, church officials there would have been told about the accusations against him.

'Baker was different'

The bishop says it himself.

"Michael Baker was different because he was the only priest who turned himself in,"he said.

Baker told the Los Angeles Times he admitted his problems with molestation to Mahony. Curry remembers the priest coming to him first.

"I had the idea that this man was really trying to turn his life around," he said, refusing to divulge any specifics of the conversation because of litigation. "I can say that I knew he had a problem with regards to minors. There's no question about that."

Contacted over the phone at a residence in Long Beach, Baker offered comment only on his respect for Curry, deflecting all other questions.

"All I can tell you that Tom, for me, is an absolute gentleman," he said. "He treated me with great honor and respect."

Curry said that after Baker acknowledged his "problem," he received months of treatment in Jemez Springs and was deemed fit by a therapist to return to limited ministry. He also continued to receive counseling.

Baker was assigned to ministries focused on geriatric issues, Curry said. After Curry left as vicar of clergy at the end of 1990, Baker was at several different parishes.

In a threatened lawsuit against the priest, Mahony and the archdiocese that the alleged victims' attorney said was secretly settled for $1.3 million about two years ago, Baker was accused of molesting two brothers over a period of about 15 years that started before his treatment and continued well into the 1990s.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in May by Anderson and others include a former altar boy who said he was molested by Baker from about 1990 to 1993 at St. Elisabeth Church in Van Nuys. Records from the archdiocese show that Baker began to live at the parish in 1988, when Curry was still vicar of clergy. Baker left St. Elisabeth in 1991 and returned the next year.

Curry said he's not aware of the most recent allegation but summed up his reaction to the general accusations against Baker with these words: "Terrible. Sad. Appalled."

He said he's not sure the alleged abuse is directly related to the decision to reassign Baker to the ministry but acknowledged feelings of responsibility, guilt and regret.

"You did something that you thought was right at the time and it led to further problems," Curry said, noting Baker is the only priest he reassigned who was accused of continuing to molest.

"I don't know of any others and I pray to God there aren't," he said.

That the Baker case and the entire clergy abuse scandal have hit him hard shows in his tone of voice and his eyes when asked pointed questions about victims.

"I have a deep sense of sadness I feel every single day," he said. "There's been so much hurt, so much betrayal, so much shock."

Bashforth, the alleged victim, said he thinks anyone who reassigned molesting priests should lose his job. Anderson, the lawyer, said that if he was a shareholder in a corporation headed by Curry, he would ask for his resignation. Others couch their judgments on whether a cover-up is proven.

"If they have betrayed the faithful, they should stand accountable, they should lose their jobs," said John Blewett, a conservative Catholic from Santa Paula.

Several priests in Ventura County said they stand behind their bishop, adding they haven't heard any whispers among their ranks indicating any spreading distrust.

"I'm sure he was doing the best job he could at that time," said Monsignor Patrick O'Brien of San Buenaventura Mission. "I'm saddened to see he is stressed. I've supported him. I've encouraged him. We're all stressed by the negative publicity."

Curry said he hasn't seriously considered resignation.

"I will deal with whatever comes," he said of the possibility.

The bishop acknowledges regrets but said he followed the archdiocese's policies and never tried to hide anything.

"I figure I did the best I could at the time and some times that wasn't good enough," he said.

"These guys are a lot of things. One of the things they're not is stupid. It's just not reality. E Anybody who's been involved in the cover-up and reassignmentof serial predators of children, their penalty should be for them to lose their position. These are frigging animals on the loose they have responsibility for."

Lee Bashforth, who alleges the Rev. Michael Wempe molested him and his brother when they lived in the Conejo Valley

Curry's view on current issues

Bishop Thomas J. Curry said he opposes a national Catholic proposal that would allow some priests who have sexually abused a child in the past to stay in the ministry.

The plan would oust any priest who molests a child in the future. But someone accused of a single past offense could remain in the ministry at the discretion of a review board made up mostly of lay Catholics. The priest would also have to meet other standards, such as public disclosure of the offense, treatment and a diagnosis of not being a pedophile.

When the proposal comes up this week at a highly anticipated national bishops meeting in Dallas, Curry expects to vote against it. Instead the auxiliary bishop for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said he favors the kind of policy used locally where leaders say any priest who has sexually abused a child in the past or present is removed.

He said public scrutiny and anger over molestation would make it very difficult for any offender to win a community's trust and lead a ministry.

The meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops begins Thursday and has been trumpeted as the stage where Catholic leaders will try to frame a national church policy for dealing with clergy abuse. For any plan to be mandatory for all dioceses, it would have to approved by the Vatican.

Curry thinks bishops need to hammer out differences in interpretations of what constitutes "zero tolerance." He supports the concept of forming a commission to study origins of the scandal and long-term solutions.

He noted the conference lasts just two-plus days and shouldn't be viewed as the solution for the church's problems.

Some observers suggest the scrutiny of accused priests and alleged coverups will begin to subside after the conference. Curry isn't so sure.

"I think it will settle down when there's no more revelations," he said.

Bishop Thomas J.Curry
* 59 years old.
* Doctorate in history from Claremont Graduate School.
* Author of two books: "The First Freedoms: Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment" and "Farewell to Christendom: The Future of Church and State in America."
* Served as vicar of clergy for Archdiocese of Los Angeles 1986-1990.
* Succeeded G. Patrick Ziemann as regional bishop of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties under Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1994.
* "He's one of the brightest bishops in the country," according to Paul Ford, a St. John's Seminary instructor who has known him for 15 years.
* "He is possessed of knowledge of what happened," said lawyer Jeff Anderson on molestation cases during Curry's watch as vicar of clergy.


Mahony's Cronies
In covering up for predator priests, Cardinal Roger Mahony's stayed true to a prestigious old boys' network of fellow alums from St. John's Seminary in Camarillo

By Ron Russell
(Los Angeles) New Times
June 13, 2002

When Roger M. Mahony pulled the plug on child-molesting priest Carl Sutphin earlier this year after elevating him only recently to associate pastor of the soon-to-open Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral downtown, the cardinal's visible anguish stemmed from more than just embarrassment. In announcing the 69-year-old Sutphin's departure in April, Mahony first expressed sorrow -- not for the pedophile cleric's victims, whom the cardinal had misled and ignored for years -- but for the priest. Saying he felt bad for each of the several clerics he was forced to let go as a condition of settling a lawsuit last year that enabled him to avoid testifying about another of his predator pals (disgraced former Santa Rosa bishop G. Patrick Zieman), Mahony expressed special sympathy for Sutphin. Astonishingly, considering the gravity of the accusations against Sutphin, who had lived near Mahony in an apartment at the cathedral until his dismissal, His Eminence lamented that he felt "particularly [sad] for him because if this had been a few months from now, he would have been gone anyway [as a result of ordinary retirement]."

Barely a week after revealing Sutphin's departure, Mahony was forced to disclose having tossed overboard another longtime friend and child molester, Father Michael Wempe. This, after a reporter began asking questions about Wempe at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where Mahony had stashed him as a chaplain without bothering to tell hospital officials that he was a known pedophile. Mahony had even been the star guest at a luncheon in Wempe's honor at the hospital as recently as two years ago. Shortly after the Wempe mea culpa, a 34-year-old West Hollywood man walked into a sheriff's substation to file a complaint about yet another of Mahony's longtime intimates, Father Michael Baker, who is accused of molesting numerous children during more than a decade after Mahony welcomed him back to the fold in the mid-1980s despite knowing then of his history of pedophilia. As it turns out, Mahony had torpedoed Baker in 1999 and kept it quiet by imposing a "confidentiality agreement" on the victims' families and their lawyers after paying them more than $1.3 million in church funds.

But Sutphin, Wempe, Baker and Zieman have more in common than merely their reputations as sexual predators. At one time or another, each cleric has been a member of Mahony's inner circle, part of the same old-boys' network born from years of shared experiences. As with others close to Mahony, a common denominator is St. John's Seminary College in Camarillo, the secluded 92-acre hilltop institution that has stocked the parishes of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and beyond with Roman Catholic priests since it opened in 1939. Sutphin and Wempe were classmates of Mahony's there. Zieman arrived in 1963, the year after Mahony graduated. But those who know Mahony and Zieman say their paths have interconnected at St. John's and elsewhere since at least the 1960s. After Mahony became archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985, Zieman's stock soared as one of his most promising proteges. Mahony and Baker (St. John's class of '74) became close after Mahony took over the L.A. Archdiocese from the late Cardinal Timothy Manning, another St. John's alumnus.

Inside the cavernous refectory of the St. Johns' theology school, a short distance down the hill from the seminary college where students spend the first four of their seven years of priestly training, the walls are lined with framed photos of graduates who've achieved ordination. It is an impressive assemblage. Besides cardinals Mahony and Manning, the walls are peppered with bishops and their top lieutenants, past and present, from dioceses all over the country. The photographs also illustrate just how powerful a figure Mahony has become within the hierarchy of the American church, based on the numerous contemporaries and proteges who've ascended to lofty clerical positions.

Among his former classmates, to name a few, are William J. Levada, archbishop of San Francisco; George Niederhauer, bishop of Salt Lake City; Justin S. Regali, archbishop of St. Louis; Manuel D. Moreno, bishop of Tucson, Arizona; Tod D. Brown, bishop of the Diocese of Orange, and John T. Steinbock, bishop of Fresno. (Steinbock is the prelate who earlier this year stepped forward to investigate a Fresno woman's claims -- later deemed by Fresno police not to be credible -- that Mahony had molested her when she was a high school student many years ago.) And that's not to mention a host of auxiliary bishops, chancellors and vicars general with ties to Mahony who are waiting in the wings to step into positions of greater authority. "Mahony has developed as impressive a bench as any [Catholic] leader in the country, and while they may not always appreciate what he does, they're beholden to him for the power he exerts [for] them," says a priest and St. John's alum who has known the cardinal for many years. That it should be that way is no mystery. "What you have to remember is that you don't merely attend seminary with someone, you survive it with them, and the bonds become incredibly strong, like a lifetime brotherhood," says Will Allotto, who attended St. John's in the late 1960s and early '70s before deciding the priesthood wasn't for him.

In Mahony's case, such bonds help explain why one of the most powerful hierarchs in the American Catholic church -- whose name, until recently, had been whispered as among those with a shot at becoming pope -- would go to great lengths to harbor pedophile priests while turning his back on their victims. As detailed in past articles in New Times, he has consistently blocked efforts by victims to extract justice from their molesters. He has resisted cooperating with law enforcement, assigned emissaries to keep scandals from getting into the newspapers and, as a last resort, has authorized spending millions of dollars to quietly settle sex-abuse claims while imposing strict "confidentiality agreements" on victims and their lawyers to buy their silence. Indeed, despite his recent efforts at image mending -- including the hiring of Sitrick and Co., the Enron Corporation's former public relations firm -- Mahony has established a record every bit as shameful as Boston's much-maligned Cardinal Bernard Law during his 17 years as archbishop of Los Angeles, and earlier when he was bishop of Stockton.

Nowhere is the cohesion of the Mahony buddy system more evident than in the case of G. Patrick Zieman, a prize student whom Mahony had elevated to auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles before persuading the Vatican to appoint him as Santa Rosa's bishop. According to police reports, Zieman forced a young priest brought up from Costa Rica (who quickly got into trouble that required the bishop's help) to wear a beeper so that Zieman could beckon him for sex at all hours. Some of the trysts occurred inside the bishop's diocesan office. Having averted criminal prosecution, Zieman is still a Roman Catholic bishop, conducting mass and otherwise holding counsel in comfortable exile at a monastery in the Arizona desert outside Tucson. (Sources say he is a fixture of Tucson's artsy party scene, and was even spotted recently at a karaoke bar.) It was near Tucson that an attorney for the sex abuse victim whose court settlement gave birth to Mahony's much-ballyhooed "zero tolerance" policy deposed Zieman in the spring of last year. Shortly thereafter, Mahony was put on notice that he, too, would be expected to testify in court.

Church officials, including those within Mahony's inner circle who have helped make Zieman's kid-glove treatment possible, are reluctant to discuss the one-time Mahony golden boy, and no wonder. New Times has learned that Mahony chum and longtime Zieman friend and fellow St. John's alum William Levada, the archbishop of San Francisco, is playing a prominent role in supervising Zieman's "spiritual rehabilitation." This, despite heated denials by Levada's spokesman that the archbishop has had nothing to do with Zieman's supervision in Arizona. Levada publicly lauded Zieman on the day he resigned his Santa Rosa post, even as the bishop insisted that the allegations against him were false. Even the location of Zieman's exile hardly seems coincidental. The bishop in whose jurisdiction the monastery is located is none other than Manuel Moreno, a classmate of both Mahony's and Levada's at St. John's and another longtime Zieman friend.

Like Mahony, Moreno has his own history of harboring pedo-priests, including Monsignor Robert Trupia, whose alleged on-campus sexual escapades have contributed to St. John's checkered reputation as a hotbed of priestly promiscuity. Trupia's "Come and See" weekends, in which he sponsored young prospective seminarians from Tucson for visits to his alma mater, were legendary at St. John's during the 1980s. Although a housekeeper caught him in bed with a student in 1982, triggering a complaint that went straight from Cardinal Manning to Moreno in Tucson, Trupia, incredibly, continued to cruise St. John's for another six years, until an incident involving sex with a young drug addict in the theology school's bell tower led to his finally being banned from the campus. The dioceses of Tucson and of Orange earlier this year quietly settled a lawsuit in which nine former altar boys and another man had accused Trupia and three other priests of molesting them in Arizona and California more than 25 years ago, shortly after Trupia completed his priestly studies at St. John's.

As the seminary of the L.A. Archdiocese, St. John's has long trained priests not only from Southern California, but from other parts of the United States and the world. After seminaries in the dioceses of Tucson and Fresno were shuttered years ago, St. John's became the de facto training center for seminarians in those areas. Mahony, who occupies a comfortable Spanish-style cottage on the grounds during his occasional visits, has left an indelible mark, not always to everyone's liking. Faced with declining enrollments and spiraling costs, he miffed many in 1987 by selling off a treasure trove of antiquarian books and manuscripts -- including a rare Gutenberg Bible -- that had been donated to the school by the family of the late oil baron Edward Doheny Jr.

The Doheny name adorns each of the two libraries on the grounds. The one at the theology school is named for Edward while the other at the seminary college up the hill bears the name of his wife, Estelle. The manuscript sales by Christie's auction house reaped $20 million, ostensibly to set up an endowment to support St. John's and seminaries at Mission Hills and near downtown Los Angeles. But not long after the sales, Mahony closed the two other institutions. Indeed, with a combined enrollment of about 200 at the seminary college and the theology school, St. John's student population is barely half what it was a quarter-century ago. And the numbers would undoubtedly be more anemic if not for Mahony's strategy of pulling in seminarians from Latin America and as far away as Sri Lanka. Still, only 12 priests were ordained out of St. John's last year, and of them, only two were from the Los Angeles archdiocese, with its 3.6 million Roman Catholics.

Mahony's influence may also be felt in another area. Sources say that, while the seminary has had its share of sex-related problems, it has avoided the public scandals that have afflicted some other Catholic seminaries largely because of the buttoned-down culture that Mahony has fostered. Other seminaries haven't been as lucky. For example, St. Francis Seminary at the University of San Diego became so notorious as a magnate for actively gay priests and students that author Jason Berry devoted a chapter to it in his 1992 book Lead Us Not Into Temptation, a scathing expose of priestly sex abuse. Even former St. John's students who speak critically of their alma mater insist that the school's reputation within priestly circles was never as wild as, say, St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, outside San Francisco. "At St. Patrick's [seminarians] talked about hitting the gay bars on Friday nights as if it were as routine as going to a Giants game," says an ex-St. John's student, who used to visit a friend at the Menlo Park campus in the late '70s and early '80s. At St. John's, "nasty stuff happens, but you're conditioned not to talk about it," says another former seminarian with ties to the school. "There's a tradition of people minding their own business and not rocking the boat."

One person who didn't play the game is former student Richard Nason, who came to St. John's from the San Fernando Valley in 1979. In an affidavit filed in an Orange County Superior Court case involving sex-abuse victim Ryan DiMaria, who received the settlement ($5.2 million) from the L.A. Archdiocese last year that kept Mahony off the witness stand, Nason contends that a former St. John's instructor sexually assaulted at least two of his classmates and made unwelcome sexual advances toward him. New Times has learned that allegations of sexual misconduct have swirled around this priest -- who will be referred to here as Father X -- since his days as an instructor at a junior seminary for high school boys in the early 1970s. Yet Father X was never prosecuted criminally, and neither has any of his alleged victims filed civil claims against him. The family of one L.A.-area victim -- a ninth-grader when the abuses occurred -- say they reported Father X to the junior seminary's officials in the mid-1970s and were assured that he would be kept away from children. They say they didn't press charges because they didn't want to harm the church. Father X was transferred to St. John's in 1976. He is now a chaplain at a children's hospital.

Nason's story is significant because among the few confidantes with whom he shared it was his spiritual advisor, Zieman, the disgraced bishop and member of Mahony's inner circle. Not only did Nason tell Zieman in 1980 what was going on at St. John's, he also told him about another of his friends, in Santa Ana, who had confided to Nason that he was being abused by a teacher at Mater Dei High School, Monsignor Michael Harris. Zieman, a friend and fellow St. John's alum of Harris', did nothing about Nason's revelations. Years later, after young DiMaria accused Harris of sexually assaulting him while a student at Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, where Harris had become the principal, the discovery of Zieman's inaction became a pivotal element in DiMaria's record-setting settlement with the church.

As first reported by New Times, Mahony authorized the pay-out last August shortly before he would have been forced to testify at DiMaria's civil trial and answer potentially embarrassing questions about Zieman, who had already been deposed by DiMaria's attorney. More significantly, as part of the settlement, DiMaria forced Mahony to accept 11 conditions, including the "zero tolerance" policy toward priestly abusers. It was the DiMaria settlement that forced Mahony to give Sutphin and the others their walking papers in late February and early March. Even now, as he continues to resist L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley's demands to surrender all files related to more than 50 current and former priests under investigation, the cardinal has turned DiMaria's demand for "zero tolerance" into a public relations mantra, filching it as his own.

Yet, until now, almost nothing has surfaced publicly about Father X, the priest whose alleged depravations at St. John's inadvertently set in motion events that may ultimately help undermine Mahony's future as head of the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese. Nason, now 42, declined to be interviewed for this article. An intermediary says he prefers to put what happened years ago behind him. In his affidavit, he describes himself as someone who from an early age was determined to become a priest, having attended high school seminary at Our Lady Queen of Angels in Mission Hills. But his world was jolted within months of arriving at St. John's in the fall of 1979, after he "discovered that sexual abuse was going on and that friends of mine had been sexually assaulted" by Father X. He continues in his affidavit that he felt harassed after one of the alleged victims told classmates "that [Father X] really wanted me." Nason says he went immediately to the dean of students to tell him about the priest's conduct, which he says was widely discussed among St. John's students. "[The dean] told me that it was impossible that [Father X] was acting in this manner and further told me that if such a thing were going on, that I had to be involved in it; otherwise no action could be taken. I understood him to mean that I would have to submit to sexual advances by [Father X] in order to have any grounds to make a complaint." The dean was not mentioned by name in Nason's affidavit. Other sources who identified him say he left the seminary and the priesthood years ago.

Nason thought he was doing the right thing. But seminary officials soon put him -- not Father X -- on the defensive. Because of the allegations, the dean ordered him to attend three sessions with a psychiatrist "and then discuss my situation with [the dean] to see if I required further therapy." Nason says that after he completed the sessions, he never heard from the dean and assumed that all was as well as could be expected. But in the spring of 1980, the dean called him in and informed him that his grades were deficient and that "because of my refusal to see a psychiatrist, I would be dismissed from St. John's." Nason, who of course had seen the psychiatrist, acknowledges in the affidavit that his grades had suffered during his first semester but insists that they had improved by the time he was asked to leave. Finally, in May of 1980, he turned to Zieman, who had been one of his teachers at Our Lady Queen of Angels, telling him not only about the allegations involving Father X, but about Harris' alleged abuse of his friend at Mater Dei. "Disillusioned and extremely upset," Nason packed his bags and left St. John's not long after baring his soul to Zieman.

Nason's stand against priestly sex abuse may have gotten him kicked out of St. John's, but it didn't go unnoticed. "We considered it an act of bravery," says a priest in the L.A. area, who was a student at St. John's when Nason was there. Although Nason may have never known it, the priest recalls that Father X and Zieman were close friends. Like Nason, he insists that Father X's antics were "common knowledge" at the seminary during the late 1970s. In fact, he says Father X was so well-known for "coming on" to young students that at least one student to whom he was assigned to be "spiritual director" refused to attend sessions with him. "All he wanted to talk about [during spiritual direction] was sex," says the priest. "He would light a single candle and sit down next to you on a sofa. It was pretty sick." The priest says that during one such session, Father X told a student that he "needed to open up more sexually" and that in an unsuccessful attempt at seduction, added, "You can't hope to understand what a mortal sin is until you commit one."

Father X was shoved out at St. John's the same year Nason left, and not because seminary officials had suddenly learned of his appetite for young men. Rather, there was panic that his exploits were about to hit the newspapers. The catalytic event was a dorm party at Loyola Marymount University in the spring of 1980 attended by several seminarians from St. John's. "Some of the St. John's guys got really drunk and started saying much more about [Father X] than they intended to," says the ex-seminarian source. "Afterward, the word was that someone from LMU who was really disgusted by what he'd heard was about to tell the whole story to an L.A Times reporter." Alarmed, several seminary students went to the dean to let him know about the LMU incident and "to more or less warn him that unless something was done about [Father X], there would be a mess in the press." That night, Father X didn't show up for evening prayer. "He just disappeared," the source says. "They cleaned out his room and packed him off, and none of us ever knew what happened to him."

But one tawdry era at St. John's soon gave way to another. The first hint of it occurred in February of 1982, when a female housekeeper employed at the seminary college up the hill from the theology school opened a dorm room door and found Monsignor Robert Trupia -- a popular St. John's alumnus who was then a rising star in the Diocese of Tucson -- in bed with the young male student. She reported her startling discovery to seminary officials, who told Cardinal Manning. He, in turn, placed a call to the Most Reverend Manuel Moreno in Arizona, an L.A.-area native and Mahony's former St. John's classmate who was then about to be installed as Tucson's new bishop.

As with Mahony's harboring of predator priests with whom he has strong attachments, the Trupia story says much about the intractability of old boys' networks among Catholic prelates and why the American hierarchy seems incapable of purging its bad apples. Trupia was ordained in 1973, and his first assignment upon graduating from St. John's was as associate pastor of St. Francis of Assisi church in Yuma, Arizona. There, according to plaintiffs in a lawsuit settled in January of this year against him and three other priests (two of them now deceased), he almost immediately began molesting 11- and 12-year-old altar boys in the rectory after Sunday services. In 1976, former police officer Ted Oswald, then a lay brother at St. Francis and now a priest in Northern California, became suspicious while helping some of the boys with a school project. According to one of the few records in the case that isn't under court seal, one of the altar boys wanted to know if Trupia was a "queer." After Oswald asked what prompted the question, the boys unleashed in vivid detail what Trupia had done to them. Oswald asked the boys to write out statements, which he took to superiors at the diocese. Within days, Bishop Francis J. Green, Moreno's predecessor, removed Trupia from Yuma.

The boys' families were told that he would be treated for pedophilia, but sources familiar with the case say there is no evidence that he underwent any treatment. Instead, he was transferred to faraway Tucson to a parish and school where, astonishingly, he was assigned to teach sex education. In fact, within months of the transfer, Green (who is now deceased), promoted Trupia to vice chancellor, which ostensibly required not only an "irreproachable reputation" but a doctorate in canon law, neither of which Trupia possessed. But it gets more bizarre. In 1977, Green sponsored Trupia as a candidate to the Vatican for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a rare honor. That same year, the diocesan chancellor rebuked Oswald, the whistle-blower, who was still a lay brother, for, as the chancellor put it, "getting our priests in trouble." It was later revealed that some of the records Oswald had turned over to the diocese about Trupia had been destroyed. His checkered past seemingly behind him, Trupia was bestowed the title of monsignor in 1979.

By that time, he also had begun to sponsor the "Come and See" weekends for prospective seminarians from Tucson to visit St. John's. (As murmurs about Trupia spread, campus wags vulgarly referred to the visits as "See and Cum" weekends.) As at other seminaries, such visitations were routine. Typically, visitors -- mostly high school students -- signed up through the dean's office and were assigned a partner from a list of volunteer students with whom they would share a room and tag along to classes, religious services and meals for up to a week. The idea was to give the students a taste of seminary life. "It's analogous to what universities do when recruiting student athletes," says an L.A. priest who hosted visitors while at St. John's in the 1980s. But with Trupia, it was different, he recalls. "Trupia always kept his boys to himself, and didn't like to let them around anyone except [seminarians ] who were from the Tucson diocese." It was during such a visit that the housekeeper walked in on Trupia in 1982.

Despite the outrageous spectacle, sources familiar with the case say Moreno, who was by then Tucson's new bishop, chose not to investigate the incident. Ten years later, facing accusations of covering up for the monsignor, Moreno finally provided a report of the incident to a diocesan "sensitive claims committee." Even so, the committee didn't pursue it. "Trupia was essentially running a hotel for boys at St. John's," says Lynn Cadigan, a Tucson attorney who represented the 10 plaintiffs who accused Trupia and the other priests of molesting them.

It wasn't until 1988 -- six years after the incident witnessed by the housekeeper -- that Trupia was banished from St. John's after an episode in the theology school's landmark bell tower that scandalized even some of the more jaded observers of his weekend forays. The tower, which soars above the school's ornate Spanish rococo chapel, contains three rooms on separate levels that for years served as living quarters for an elderly priest in charge of seminary maintenance. The priest moved out in 1988, leaving the tower empty. Sources say that on a visit to St. John's shortly thereafter, Trupia was accompanied by a young man (not a plaintiff in the lawsuit) with whom he had been close for several years in Tucson. A well-placed source in Arizona says that Trupia brought the young man, whom he was helping to overcome a drug problem, to the bell tower ostensibly to "detoxify" him. While they were there, the source says, they also engaged in sex. The story of the bell tower liaison quickly circulated through the St. John's grapevine. A few days later, presumably with the knowledge of Mahony, Trupia was declared persona non grata at the seminary.

Still, Moreno took no action against Trupia. And neither was any action taken after allegations surfaced in January of 1989 that a night watchman at the Tucson parish residence where the monsignor was living had spotted him embracing a young man on the grounds there. After Tucson police began investigating Trupia in the summer of that year, he was shipped off to the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to at last pursue doctoral studies. But in 1992, his Yuma past came back to haunt him, when the mother of one of his alleged victims demanded an investigation. After Moreno alerted Trupia in April of 1992 that Tucson police were again sniffing at his heels, Trupia threatened to disclose sexual relationships involving a former bishop of Phoenix, the Most Reverend James A. Rausch (who had died in 1981) and a prominent archbishop unless he was allowed to retire gracefully, another source familiar with the matter says. Moreno disclosed the alleged threat in 1995 as part of a secret canonical affidavit, this source says.

Trupia was arrested early last year and jailed to await trial for molesting the Yuma altar boys. But less than 24 hours later, prosecutors reversed themselves and decided they couldn't charge him in a 25-year-old case because of Arizona's statutes of limitation. Trupia, who is still a priest but on inactive leave, lives in Maryland. Numerous attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. Moreno, now 71, who has largely enjoyed a free ride from Tucson's studiously uninquisitive newspapers, declined to be interviewed by New Times. After the lawsuit involving Trupia and the others was settled in January, purportedly for several million dollars, Moreno issued the briefest of statements. In Mahonyesque fashion, he acknowledged that there had been "failings in the past by some within our diocese to respond appropriately to reports of abuse." Not surprisingly, he didn't include himself in those failings.

Five years Mahony's junior, Zieman, now 60, was one of the more promising of the cardinal's golden boys. Like Mahony, he was a "lifer" who had committed to pursuing the priesthood from an early age and attended junior seminary instead of regular high school. Their family backgrounds couldn't have been more different. Mahony is the son of a North Hollywood electrician who moonlighted as a poultry rancher during the cardinal's childhood. Zieman is from an old-money Pasadena family, the grandson of late writer, lawyer and orator Joseph Scott, one of the most prominent Catholic laymen in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. His pedigree alone might have made him a likely Mahony protege. But he was also bright, energetic, ambitious and charismatic. "When Zieman walked into a room he owned it," recalls a former St. John's colleague. With two years of seminary training elsewhere under his belt, Zieman arrived at St. John's in 1963, the year after Mahony graduated. He finished theology school in the class of '67.

Both men were marked for stardom when at St. John's. Instead of being assigned parish work upon ordination, each was sent away for secular degrees. Mahony headed to the nation's capital to attend the Catholic University of America, where he earned a master's degree in social service. Zieman took a graduate degree in education at Mount St. Mary's College here, and obtained credentials for secondary school teaching, administration and pupil personnel services. Mahony, who switched his sponsorship from the L.A. Archdiocese to the Diocese of Fresno before being ordained upon graduating from St. John's, was clearly the fast-track champion. Although the reason for the switch allegedly was so that Mahony could realize his quest to serve migrant farm workers, others took a more jaundiced view. "It was an open secret that he saw going to Fresno as a faster way to advance his career," insists a veteran priest in the L.A. Archdiocese who has known Mahony for years. "It would have taken him forever to climb the ladder in an archdiocese the size of L.A., whereas in Fresno he quickly became a big fish in a small pond." After returning from Washington, he rapidly worked his way up through the ranks of the small diocese, becoming a favorite of Timothy Manning, then bishop of Fresno (well before his ascension to head the L.A. Archdiocese and his elevation to cardinal). By 1980, at age 43, Mahony was inducted as bishop of Stockton.

Zieman (who, like Mahony, is fluent in Spanish) served a Huntington Park parish after leaving Mount St. Mary's. He then taught at Mater Dei High School in Orange County (along with his friend, fellow St. John's alum and accused sexual predator Monsignor Michael Harris) before he was asked to teach at the now-closed Our Lady Queen of Angels Seminary. Through the years, St. John's was a touchstone for the men. "Mahony and Zieman couldn't stay away from the place," recalls an ex-seminarian. "They would always show up to visit and to attend parties. They knew they were going places, and they loved the recognition. With Mahony especially, his hanging around St. John's was his way of saying, "Look at me. You had better take notice.'"

Just as Manning had been Mahony's career benefactor, Mahony became Zieman's. After succeeding Manning as archbishop of L.A. in 1985, Mahony appointed Zieman vice rector and dean of students at Our Lady Queen of Angels. In 1987 Mahony named him auxiliary bishop. When the bishop's position became vacant at Santa Rosa in 1992, Mahony was instrumental in persuading the Vatican to appoint Zieman to the post. The Diocese of Santa Rosa, while serving only 140,000 Roman Catholics, is geographically huge, its boundaries encompassing most of California north of San Francisco. Zieman's tenure at Santa Rosa proved to be hugely embarrassing. Under his guidance, the diocese racked up debts of more than $30 million through disastrous stock market investments and secret payouts to victims of priestly sex abuse.

When Roger M. Mahony pulled the plug on child-molesting priest Carl Sutphin earlier this year after elevating him only recently to associate pastor of the soon-to-open Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral downtown, the cardinal's visible anguish stemmed from more than just embarrassment. In announcing the 69-year-old Sutphin's departure in April, Mahony first expressed sorrow -- not for the pedophile cleric's victims, whom the cardinal had misled and ignored for years -- but for the priest. Saying he felt bad for each of the several clerics he was forced to let go as a condition of settling a lawsuit last year that enabled him to avoid testifying about another of his predator pals (disgraced former Santa Rosa bishop G. Patrick Zieman), Mahony expressed special sympathy for Sutphin. Astonishingly, considering the gravity of the accusations against Sutphin, who had lived near Mahony in an apartment at the cathedral until his dismissal, His Eminence lamented that he felt "particularly [sad] for him because if this had been a few months from now, he would have been gone anyway [as a result of ordinary retirement]."

Barely a week after revealing Sutphin's departure, Mahony was forced to disclose having tossed overboard another longtime friend and child molester, Father Michael Wempe. This, after a reporter began asking questions about Wempe at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where Mahony had stashed him as a chaplain without bothering to tell hospital officials that he was a known pedophile. Mahony had even been the star guest at a luncheon in Wempe's honor at the hospital as recently as two years ago. Shortly after the Wempe mea culpa, a 34-year-old West Hollywood man walked into a sheriff's substation to file a complaint about yet another of Mahony's longtime intimates, Father Michael Baker, who is accused of molesting numerous children during more than a decade after Mahony welcomed him back to the fold in the mid-1980s despite knowing then of his history of pedophilia. As it turns out, Mahony had torpedoed Baker in 1999 and kept it quiet by imposing a "confidentiality agreement" on the victims' families and their lawyers after paying them more than $1.3 million in church funds.

But Sutphin, Wempe, Baker and Zieman have more in common than merely their reputations as sexual predators. At one time or another, each cleric has been a member of Mahony's inner circle, part of the same old-boys' network born from years of shared experiences. As with others close to Mahony, a common denominator is St. John's Seminary College in Camarillo, the secluded 92-acre hilltop institution that has stocked the parishes of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and beyond with Roman Catholic priests since it opened in 1939. Sutphin and Wempe were classmates of Mahony's there. Zieman arrived in 1963, the year after Mahony graduated. But those who know Mahony and Zieman say their paths have interconnected at St. John's and elsewhere since at least the 1960s. After Mahony became archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985, Zieman's stock soared as one of his most promising proteges. Mahony and Baker (St. John's class of '74) became close after Mahony took over the L.A. Archdiocese from the late Cardinal Timothy Manning, another St. John's alumnus.

Inside the cavernous refectory of the St. Johns' theology school, a short distance down the hill from the seminary college where students spend the first four of their seven years of priestly training, the walls are lined with framed photos of graduates who've achieved ordination. It is an impressive assemblage. Besides cardinals Mahony and Manning, the walls are peppered with bishops and their top lieutenants, past and present, from dioceses all over the country. The photographs also illustrate just how powerful a figure Mahony has become within the hierarchy of the American church, based on the numerous contemporaries and proteges who've ascended to lofty clerical positions.

Among his former classmates, to name a few, are William J. Levada, archbishop of San Francisco; George Niederhauer, bishop of Salt Lake City; Justin S. Regali, archbishop of St. Louis; Manuel D. Moreno, bishop of Tucson, Arizona; Tod D. Brown, bishop of the Diocese of Orange, and John T. Steinbock, bishop of Fresno. (Steinbock is the prelate who earlier this year stepped forward to investigate a Fresno woman's claims -- later deemed by Fresno police not to be credible -- that Mahony had molested her when she was a high school student many years ago.) And that's not to mention a host of auxiliary bishops, chancellors and vicars general with ties to Mahony who are waiting in the wings to step into positions of greater authority. "Mahony has developed as impressive a bench as any [Catholic] leader in the country, and while they may not always appreciate what he does, they're beholden to him for the power he exerts [for] them," says a priest and St. John's alum who has known the cardinal for many years. That it should be that way is no mystery. "What you have to remember is that you don't merely attend seminary with someone, you survive it with them, and the bonds become incredibly strong, like a lifetime brotherhood," says Will Allotto, who attended St. John's in the late 1960s and early '70s before deciding the priesthood wasn't for him.

In Mahony's case, such bonds help explain why one of the most powerful hierarchs in the American Catholic church -- whose name, until recently, had been whispered as among those with a shot at becoming pope -- would go to great lengths to harbor pedophile priests while turning his back on their victims. As detailed in past articles in New Times, he has consistently blocked efforts by victims to extract justice from their molesters. He has resisted cooperating with law enforcement, assigned emissaries to keep scandals from getting into the newspapers and, as a last resort, has authorized spending millions of dollars to quietly settle sex-abuse claims while imposing strict "confidentiality agreements" on victims and their lawyers to buy their silence. Indeed, despite his recent efforts at image mending -- including the hiring of Sitrick and Co., the Enron Corporation's former public relations firm -- Mahony has established a record every bit as shameful as Boston's much-maligned Cardinal Bernard Law during his 17 years as archbishop of Los Angeles, and earlier when he was bishop of Stockton.

Nowhere is the cohesion of the Mahony buddy system more evident than in the case of G. Patrick Zieman, a prize student whom Mahony had elevated to auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles before persuading the Vatican to appoint him as Santa Rosa's bishop. According to police reports, Zieman forced a young priest brought up from Costa Rica (who quickly got into trouble that required the bishop's help) to wear a beeper so that Zieman could beckon him for sex at all hours. Some of the trysts occurred inside the bishop's diocesan office. Having averted criminal prosecution, Zieman is still a Roman Catholic bishop, conducting mass and otherwise holding counsel in comfortable exile at a monastery in the Arizona desert outside Tucson. (Sources say he is a fixture of Tucson's artsy party scene, and was even spotted recently at a karaoke bar.) It was near Tucson that an attorney for the sex abuse victim whose court settlement gave birth to Mahony's much-ballyhooed "zero tolerance" policy deposed Zieman in the spring of last year. Shortly thereafter, Mahony was put on notice that he, too, would be expected to testify in court.

Church officials, including those within Mahony's inner circle who have helped make Zieman's kid-glove treatment possible, are reluctant to discuss the one-time Mahony golden boy, and no wonder. New Times has learned that Mahony chum and longtime Zieman friend and fellow St. John's alum William Levada, the archbishop of San Francisco, is playing a prominent role in supervising Zieman's "spiritual rehabilitation." This, despite heated denials by Levada's spokesman that the archbishop has had nothing to do with Zieman's supervision in Arizona. Levada publicly lauded Zieman on the day he resigned his Santa Rosa post, even as the bishop insisted that the allegations against him were false. Even the location of Zieman's exile hardly seems coincidental. The bishop in whose jurisdiction the monastery is located is none other than Manuel Moreno, a classmate of both Mahony's and Levada's at St. John's and another longtime Zieman friend.

Like Mahony, Moreno has his own history of harboring pedo-priests, including Monsignor Robert Trupia, whose alleged on-campus sexual escapades have contributed to St. John's checkered reputation as a hotbed of priestly promiscuity. Trupia's "Come and See" weekends, in which he sponsored young prospective seminarians from Tucson for visits to his alma mater, were legendary at St. John's during the 1980s. Although a housekeeper caught him in bed with a student in 1982, triggering a complaint that went straight from Cardinal Manning to Moreno in Tucson, Trupia, incredibly, continued to cruise St. John's for another six years, until an incident involving sex with a young drug addict in the theology school's bell tower led to his finally being banned from the campus. The dioceses of Tucson and of Orange earlier this year quietly settled a lawsuit in which nine former altar boys and another man had accused Trupia and three other priests of molesting them in Arizona and California more than 25 years ago, shortly after Trupia completed his priestly studies at St. John's.

As the seminary of the L.A. Archdiocese, St. John's has long trained priests not only from Southern California, but from other parts of the United States and the world. After seminaries in the dioceses of Tucson and Fresno were shuttered years ago, St. John's became the de facto training center for seminarians in those areas. Mahony, who occupies a comfortable Spanish-style cottage on the grounds during his occasional visits, has left an indelible mark, not always to everyone's liking. Faced with declining enrollments and spiraling costs, he miffed many in 1987 by selling off a treasure trove of antiquarian books and manuscripts -- including a rare Gutenberg Bible -- that had been donated to the school by the family of the late oil baron Edward Doheny Jr.

The Doheny name adorns each of the two libraries on the grounds. The one at the theology school is named for Edward while the other at the seminary college up the hill bears the name of his wife, Estelle. The manuscript sales by Christie's auction house reaped $20 million, ostensibly to set up an endowment to support St. John's and seminaries at Mission Hills and near downtown Los Angeles. But not long after the sales, Mahony closed the two other institutions. Indeed, with a combined enrollment of about 200 at the seminary college and the theology school, St. John's student population is barely half what it was a quarter-century ago. And the numbers would undoubtedly be more anemic if not for Mahony's strategy of pulling in seminarians from Latin America and as far away as Sri Lanka. Still, only 12 priests were ordained out of St. John's last year, and of them, only two were from the Los Angeles archdiocese, with its 3.6 million Roman Catholics.

Mahony's influence may also be felt in another area. Sources say that, while the seminary has had its share of sex-related problems, it has avoided the public scandals that have afflicted some other Catholic seminaries largely because of the buttoned-down culture that Mahony has fostered. Other seminaries haven't been as lucky. For example, St. Francis Seminary at the University of San Diego became so notorious as a magnate for actively gay priests and students that author Jason Berry devoted a chapter to it in his 1992 book Lead Us Not Into Temptation, a scathing expose of priestly sex abuse. Even former St. John's students who speak critically of their alma mater insist that the school's reputation within priestly circles was never as wild as, say, St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, outside San Francisco. "At St. Patrick's [seminarians] talked about hitting the gay bars on Friday nights as if it were as routine as going to a Giants game," says an ex-St. John's student, who used to visit a friend at the Menlo Park campus in the late '70s and early '80s. At St. John's, "nasty stuff happens, but you're conditioned not to talk about it," says another former seminarian with ties to the school. "There's a tradition of people minding their own business and not rocking the boat."

One person who didn't play the game is former student Richard Nason, who came to St. John's from the San Fernando Valley in 1979. In an affidavit filed in an Orange County Superior Court case involving sex-abuse victim Ryan DiMaria, who received the settlement ($5.2 million) from the L.A. Archdiocese last year that kept Mahony off the witness stand, Nason contends that a former St. John's instructor sexually assaulted at least two of his classmates and made unwelcome sexual advances toward him. New Times has learned that allegations of sexual misconduct have swirled around this priest -- who will be referred to here as Father X -- since his days as an instructor at a junior seminary for high school boys in the early 1970s. Yet Father X was never prosecuted criminally, and neither has any of his alleged victims filed civil claims against him. The family of one L.A.-area victim -- a ninth-grader when the abuses occurred -- say they reported Father X to the junior seminary's officials in the mid-1970s and were assured that he would be kept away from children. They say they didn't press charges because they didn't want to harm the church. Father X was transferred to St. John's in 1976. He is now a chaplain at a children's hospital.

Nason's story is significant because among the few confidantes with whom he shared it was his spiritual advisor, Zieman, the disgraced bishop and member of Mahony's inner circle. Not only did Nason tell Zieman in 1980 what was going on at St. John's, he also told him about another of his friends, in Santa Ana, who had confided to Nason that he was being abused by a teacher at Mater Dei High School, Monsignor Michael Harris. Zieman, a friend and fellow St. John's alum of Harris', did nothing about Nason's revelations. Years later, after young DiMaria accused Harris of sexually assaulting him while a student at Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, where Harris had become the principal, the discovery of Zieman's inaction became a pivotal element in DiMaria's record-setting settlement with the church.

As first reported by New Times, Mahony authorized the pay-out last August shortly before he would have been forced to testify at DiMaria's civil trial and answer potentially embarrassing questions about Zieman, who had already been deposed by DiMaria's attorney. More significantly, as part of the settlement, DiMaria forced Mahony to accept 11 conditions, including the "zero tolerance" policy toward priestly abusers. It was the DiMaria settlement that forced Mahony to give Sutphin and the others their walking papers in late February and early March. Even now, as he continues to resist L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley's demands to surrender all files related to more than 50 current and former priests under investigation, the cardinal has turned DiMaria's demand for "zero tolerance" into a public relations mantra, filching it as his own.

Jury Demands Priests' Records
Courts: Grand jurors issue subpoenas for personnel files of three clerics accused of abuse. Their attorney seeks to have the action voided

By Richard Winton and Larry B. Stammer
LA Times
June 13, 2002

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-061302records,1,4973696.story

A grand jury issued subpoenas Wednesday to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to force it to hand over the personnel records of three priests under criminal investigation for alleged sexual abuse of minors.

Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley turned to the grand jury to obtain the personnel files after a lawyer for the priests objected two weeks ago to the release of the documents. Cooley's office declined to comment, but two sources familiar with the process said the grand jury had acted.

The subpoenas escalated pressure on Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who was in Dallas as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops prepared to convene for the first time since the church was rocked by the sexual abuse scandal. Mahony's handling of two of the priests named in the subpoenas has been a point of controversy. Michael Hennigan, a Los Angeles attorney representing the archdiocese in the cases, said he had received subpoenas from the Los Angeles County Grand Jury for documents related to Father Michael Stephen Baker, who is retired; Father Michael Wempe; and Father David Granadino.

Mahony said the archdiocese would comply with the subpoenas. But a lawyer who represents the individual priests said he will ask a judge to stop the documents from being handed over, contending that it would violate state and federal privacy laws.

"We've had the files waiting," Mahony said. "What we've been reminding people is these priests all have attorneys, so it isn't our decision. The district attorney and their attorneys have to work this out. There are a number of ways to do it, and a subpoena is fine."

Mahony said the files contain psychological evaluations, so it is no surprise that the priests' lawyers would object.

Mahony transferred Baker to several parishes after the priest told him in 1986 that he had molested young boys. The cardinal later approved a secret $1.3-million settlement to two men allegedly abused by Baker in the 1990s.

The cardinal has said he erred when he transferred Wempe, who is accused of molesting children, to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center about 14 years ago without telling hospital officials.

Wempe was among eight priests Mahony forced to retire earlier this year after the archdiocese adopted a "zero tolerance" policy for abusers in the wake of a lawsuit settlement. Since then the archdiocese has placed a handful of other priests on leave because of allegations. One of them is Granadino, a priest at St. Francis of Rome church in Azusa and the subject of a county Sheriff's Department probe into accusations that he molested boys in Norwalk and Azusa.

Mahony said he expects the documents to be handed over next week, barring objections. "We want these cases dealt with and justice done one way or the other to get it over with.... The one thing that does not help us is just to have this thing month after month after month."

In a letter last month, Cooley threatened Mahony with a grand jury investigation unless the cardinal gave law enforcement agencies all documents related to the priests under criminal investigation for alleged abuse. The archdiocese agreed to turn over the documents. But prosecutors suspended a May 30 deadline because of the legal objections made by Donald Steier, the priests' attorney.

Steier said Wednesday that he will file a motion to quash the subpoenas and ask a judge to hold a closed review of the files to hear his objections.

Steier noted that in a 1995 molestation case involving Ted Llanos, a Long Beach priest who has since died, he succeeded in having a subpoena for documents quashed. He compared his philosophy to that of "individual police officers [who] assert similar objections when their personnel files are sought in litigation."



 

 
 

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