Mahony Resources – November 2002
By Larry B. Stammer
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles denied Thursday that the resignations of its five highest-ranking executives had been related to cuts in the church budget, but through a spokesman it said none of the five was available to answer questions about their departure.
Through press spokesman Tod Tamberg, two of the five issued written statements. Msgr. Richard Loomis, director of the Secretariat for Administrative Services, said he wanted to return to parish ministry. Thomas Chabolla, director of the Secretariat for Pastoral and Community Services, said he decided to step down to allow an incoming vicar general -- the second-highest-ranking executive after Cardinal Roger M. Mahony -- to name his own senior management team. One of the five whose resignations became public Wednesday is the current vicar general, Msgr. Terrance Fleming.
In his statement, Chabolla said, "It is important for me to clarify that my departure from the archdiocese is not in protest of the cuts, as has been reported."
On Wednesday, a veteran priest said Chabolla had told the priest that he thought he had not been consulted before the cuts were made.
The priest reiterated that account Thursday. He said Chabolla had offered his resignation as the budget crisis unfolded, but that Mahony had persuaded him to remain through the year. Chabolla's statement did not address that issue.
In his statement, Loomis defended the budget cuts as "necessary, logical and, within the context of the current financial situation, as compassionate as possible."
Tamberg insisted Thursday that, although Mahony ultimately approved the controversial budget cuts, all five officials had been intimately involved in conceiving and executing them. The cuts included the elimination of seven headquarters ministries, retrenchment in others and the layoffs of at least 60 workers in archdiocese headquarters.
"They met for several weeks behind closed doors -- sometimes a couple of times a day -- making these decisions on what needed to be cut or downsized. It was agonizing for them. They were heavily involved. They weren't out of the loop," Tamberg said of the five members of the archdiocesan secretariat. "They were the loop."
The statements drew skeptical responses from other priests and archdiocesan employees.
Those who resigned "were the ones left with the burden of telling people your department is gone. I was one of them," said Laurie W. Oester, who has resigned as the archdiocese's director of campus ministry. "I know, because I've talked to my own secretariat director. It was devastating to them."
By Steve Lopez steve.lopez@latimes .com
The cardinal can soft-sell it, spin it, call it whatever he and his publicists care to call it.
But when your top five officers say "See ya," we don't need an interpreter. There's trouble in the house.
Not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE executives -- the brain trust and administrative leadership of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles -- are walking out the door.
A vote of no-confidence in Cardinal Roger M. Mahony?
Of course not, the cardinal's men would have us believe.
A protest against un-Christian cuts in several ministries that serve the poor, even as Mahony luxuriates in his brand new $189-million Rog Mahal?
No way, we're told.
It's a mere reorganization, says the cardinal's news release. The whole thing was set in motion by the planned sabbatical of Msgr. Terrance Fleming.
Maybe so. And trust me, I want to believe this, for Mahony's sake. With the continuing sex-abuse scandal -- the Ventura County D.A. charged Thursday that Mahony is stonewalling an open investigation -- he's already had a tough enough year without a revolution or a mutiny, or whatever this sudden turn might be.
But if President Bush's entire Cabinet walked out on him, and Bush claimed it had nothing to do with his leadership, would you smile agreeably and nod like an idiot?
"The staff I talked to suggested it's a protest, but they're being good soldiers and not saying anything," one priest said of the sudden resignation by the Gang of Five. "I don't believe the press release. I think there is distress with the way things have been handled, and they just wanted out."
It wouldn't be a total surprise. Not one month ago, diocesan priests confronted Mahony over his "paternalistic" and "unilateral" style, saying it was ridiculous for him to argue that budget cuts and layoffs had nothing to do with the opening of the new downtown cathedral.
One priest, with as many as a dozen brothers at his side, read the following statement to the cardinal:
"It strains the credibility we have with our people when we dedicate a $189-million cathedral -- rejoicing that it is fully funded -- and, one week later, declare that 60 lay and religious employees must be let go because we have not planned wisely enough to raise the $4 million needed to fund their ministries to prisoners, ethnic minorities, gay and lesbian outreach and religious education to children."
Maybe Mahony anticipates revenues from the sassy new diocesan wine label to pay for a reinstatement of the ministries that got axed. "Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels" chardonnay and cabernet are available in the new gift shop, which Mahony has touted during Mass in the new cathedral.
The archdiocese has now effectively cut "every program Jesus would have kept," one priest said Thursday. "The mood is awful," he added before sharing a colleague's observation about the sudden abandonment by Mahony's top five officers:
"It's a sinking ship."
Two of the Gang of Five released statements Thursday. One said his resignation was not a protest move, but was born of a desire to let a new team take over. The other said he wanted to return to parish ministry. A third of the five is ill.
But insiders say the truth, as usual, is a little more complicated. I'm told it wasn't the budget cuts that riled members of the cardinal's inner circle, but Mahony's imperious manner. Some may have felt they were fall guys who were left out of the decision-making but forced to do the cardinal's dirty work.
If so, there's a lovely irony there. One lesson from the sex-abuse scandal and the years-long cover-up was the need for a more open, democratic and accountable church. Mahony paid lip service to that notion when it was briefly in vogue. And yet, here he is, in crisis again, partly over complaints that he runs a totalitarian regime.
In a move that matches his slickest work to date, the news release from the archdiocese does more than deny that Mahony's top officers walked out over the budget cuts. It implies that they were the Scrooges responsible for them, and that Mahony was left the thankless task of rubber-stamping their heartless deeds.
Enough with the finger-pointing, which isn't very Christian. Regardless of who's at fault, there's a way for Mahony to square this with the Man Upstairs.
What is there, roughly $30 million worth of art and adornment in the new cathedral?
So the cardinal throws a yard sale. He's got plenty of tchotchkes to choose from and, with the proceeds, he could rehire some of those missionaries he canned and return them to the Lord's service.
Who in God's Kingdom is going to miss two or three chandeliers?
By Tracy Wilson and Richard Winton
Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury is demanding that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese surrender documents related to at least 15 clergy sex-abuse cases in the last three decades.
In a strongly worded letter, Bradbury told Mahony that despite promises to assist law enforcement, the nation's largest archdiocese "remains an obstacle, protecting priests while endangering future victims."
"We believe you have evidence of criminal sexual abuse that you are refusing to provide to law enforcement," Bradbury wrote in a letter delivered Wednesday. "It is time that the safety of children be put ahead of the fear of scandal."
At least three former Ventura County priests are suspected of molesting at least 15 children beginning in the 1970s.
Although the letter does not identify the priests, authorities have previously confirmed that Carl Sutphin, Michael Wempe and Fidencio Silva are under investigation for allegedly molesting at least a dozen boys during the 1970s and 1980s.
Bradbury, who retires today, released his letter Thursday in hopes of stepping up public pressure on the church to turn over evidence prosecutors want before deciding whether to file criminal charges.
Specifically, investigators want documentation of victims' reports of sex abuse, names of witnesses who were present when the suspected priests were confronted and reports by the priests' therapists.
Prosecutors in Ventura and Los Angeles counties contend the information is not subject to legal privacy protections.
J. Michael Hennigan, attorney for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which includes both counties, said the church has cooperated with law enforcement, but cannot provide some of the requested information.
"We have turned over the names of priests and critical information about every known incident in Ventura County," Hennigan said.
But under state law, the church is not free to hand over employee records, he said. In Los Angeles County, prosecutors and the archdiocese have relied on a retired judge to determine what can be turned over.
"We can follow that procedure in Ventura County," Hennigan suggested.
Since June, the Los Angeles County Grand Jury has issued subpoenas for at least 17 priests' files. The archdiocese agreed to release them, but the priests' attorney has blocked the release, pending a ruling from an appellate court.
"We are pursuing every available means to obtaining documents we believe to be admissible evidence in these cases," Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said.
Ventura County prosecutors say they are trying to get the documents without wasting time in court.
Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael K. Frawley said prosecutors have already spent six months building cases against the priests. And they do not want to rely solely on victims' statements, particularly when the alleged acts occurred decades ago, he said.
Frawley said the archdiocese is sitting on strong corroborating evidence and prosectors see no reason why it should not be turned over.
"The fact that they haven't done this is just outrageous," he said. "We know when accusations come in against priests, the priests are confronted and in some cases the priests make admissions. That is significant evidence of criminal conduct."
Frawley declined to comment on whether his office would call Mahony before a grand jury if the documents are not provided.
Earlier this year Cooley threatened Mahony with a grand jury investigation unless the archdiocese turned over similar documents.
Since then, Los Angeles prosecutors have filed criminal charges against three former priests. Michael Stephen Baker, the retired Father G. Neville Rucker and Carlos Rene Rodriguez face multiple allegations of child molestation.
Cooley said this week that "additional prosecutions of priests for child sexual abuse will be forthcoming."
According to Los Angeles law enforcement agencies, about 70 current and former priests are under investigation.
Law enforcement sources also say considerable evidence exists against the three former Ventura County priests.
Two men have sued the archdiocese alleging Sutphin, a 70-year-old retired priest, abused them during the 1970s on an overnight trip to Saticoy, near Ventura.
Mahony said he required Sutphin to undergo psychological counseling when he learned of the abuse allegations in the 1990s, and then forced him to retire early this year. Sutphin formerly worked as a chaplain at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard.
Wempe, 62, is under investigation by Los Angeles County and Ventura County law enforcement agencies for allegedly molesting three boys between 1976 and 1985 while serving at St. Jude Church in Westlake Village.
Wempe has been sued by three boys, including a former altar boy who alleges the retired priest molested him between 1975 and 1977.
Silva, 54, who is living in Mexico, is being investigated for allegedly sexually abusing eight boys from 1979 to 1985 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Oxnard. The men, including two who are now police officers, sued Silva and the archdiocese in May, alleging battery, negligent supervision and sexual abuse.
By Richard Winton
Two former priests, including one who was already imprisoned for child molestation, have been charged with sexually assaulting minors in Los Angeles, authorities said Monday.
John Anthony Salazar, believed to be at large in Canada, was charged with sexually assaulting a male student at St. Bernard High School and an altar boy at St. Teresita Church in Los Angeles.
Salazar was convicted of molesting children in 1988 and served nearly three years of a six-year prison sentence. While on parole, he was hired by the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, where he worked for 11 years.
Matthew Michael Sprouffske, 75, was arrested at his home in Darien, Ill., on Monday afternoon and was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail. He was charged with four felonies, committing lewd acts with minors under the age of 14.
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles said the church had been advised of the allegations against Sprouffske, who was removed from the priesthood in April.
The spokesman said the church was unaware of the new allegations against Salazar.
They are the fourth and fifth former priests to be charged in Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley's investigation of criminal misconduct in the Roman Catholic priesthood.
Sprouffske was charged with crimes allegedly committed in 1955 and 1959. Salazar was charged with crimes allegedly committed from 1980 to 1983.
Sprouffske allegedly molested a female relative in the 1950s when he was assigned to Mt. Carmel High School in Los Angeles, said Deputy Dist. Atty. William Hodgman, who heads the Sex Crimes Unit.
"What this priest did warrants prosecution. This is not the oldest case we are prosecuting," Hodgman said.
Salazar, who resigned from the priesthood in May, was serving at a parish in the Diocese of Amarillo. He faces up to six years in prison.
He was sentenced in 1987 to six years in prison for molesting two altar boys at St. Lucy's Catholic Church in East Los Angeles. He plead guilty to two felony counts.
He was convicted of molesting the boys, ages 13 and 14, when he invited them to spend nights at his living quarters on the church grounds.
At the same time, he was teaching at the Santa Teresita School in Los Angeles.
After serving time in prison, Salazar was allowed to return to the active ministry by a bishop in Amarillo. He was hired directly from a treatment program for sexual abusers in New Mexico, where he was paroled.
He was last assigned to the Church of Holy Spirit in Tulia near Amarillo.
Hodgman said Texas authorities were helping to track Salazar. Law enforcement sources said Monday they believe that Salazar may have gone to Canada.
Sprouffske was a member of the Carmelite order. Salazar was a Piarist priest. Neither order returned calls for comment Monday.
J. Michael Hennigan, attorney for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said the archdiocese was informed in April of Sprouffske's removal from the active priesthood.
The Carmelite order informed Los Angeles Archdiocese officials that a previously reviewed and resolved allegation had been reexamined, Hennigan said.
The alleged victim, police said, contacted Napa police earlier this year, and the matter was referred to the LAPD.
The district attorney's office has already charged two former priests and one retired priest with multiple counts of child molestation.
All are awaiting preliminary hearings, where a judge will determine if there is enough evidence to order them to stand trial.
Former priest Michael Stephen Baker, 54, of Long Beach is charged with molesting a boy repeatedly from 1976 to 1981. Former priest Carlos Rodriguez, 37, of Commerce is charged with molesting an altar boy in the mid-1980s. Retired priest G. Neville Rucker, 82, of Los Angeles is accused of molesting 10 girls over a nearly 30-year period dating to 1946.
All three have pleaded not guilty.
Police agencies across the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which includes Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, are investigating more than 70 former and current priests.
Los Angeles prosecutors may file charges in at least 10 other cases.
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera: Fled to Mexico after arrest warrant issued in 1988 on 19 counts of child molestation.
Michael Stephen Baker: Accused of multiple counts of abuse from 1975 to 1999. Laicized in 2000. Arrested in September on 19 counts of child molestation; pleaded not guilty and freed on bail in October.
Honesto Bismonte: Pleaded innocent in June to charges of lewd conduct with two girls. Placed on leave in June. Free on bail.
Lynn Caffoe: On leave since 1991. Allegation of abuse in 1994.
John Dawson: Claims of molestation of three boys in 1970s and 1980s. Removed from ministry in 1995. Living in New Mexico.
Gerald B. Fessard: Pleaded no contest in 1980 to oral copulation of a minor; received probation. Pleaded no contest in 1987 to charges of soliciting and battery on a minor; received probation. Removed from ministry in February.
David Granadino: Placed on leave in March following allegation of abuse in 1980s. Denies accusation.
Vincent Hagenbach: Subject of 2002 lawsuit filed in Los Angeles alleging abuse of boy. Now deceased.
Richard Allen Henry: Received eight-year prison sentence for abuse of four brothers and removed from ministry in 1993. Released on parole in 1996, now lives in Maryland.
Stephen C. Hernandez: Retired in 1997. Placed on leave in April after teen boy raised abuse allegation.
Tilak Jayawardene: Los Angeles authorities seeking extradition from Sri Lanka of priest wanted on child-molestation charges in 1991. Was a visiting priest in Los Angeles archdiocese; allegedly abused teen boy.
Philip Kavanaugh: Placed on leave based on allegation he abused a teen 28 years ago.
Christopher Kearney: Capuchin priest alleged to have molested several boys at Catholic high school. On leave since April.
Patrick Kelly: Jesuit priest received three years' probation in 1992 after pleading no contest to charge of sexual battery against girl.
Jerold Lindner: Jesuit was subject of lawsuit; removed from ministry in 2001.
Theodore Llanos: Charged with 38 counts of molestation in 1996; case dismissed because of statute of limitations. Committed suicide in 1997.
George Miller: Two people claim abuse during 1970s and 1980s. Removed from ministry in 1997. Grand jury investigating.
James F. O'Grady: Cleared of 1997 molestation claim. Now retired.
Carlos Rene Rodriguez: Former Vincentian priest, laicized in 1993, charged in September with molesting four boys. Pleaded not guilty, denies accusations.
George Neville Rucker: Retired in 1987; removed from ministry in April. Charged in September with molesting seven girls between 1947 and 1979. In jail.
John Anthony Salazar-Jimenez: Piarist priest, convicted in 1987 for child molestation, resumed ministry after treatment for abuse; transferred to Amarillo, Texas. Removed in June.
Juan Santillan: Piarist priest accused in 1998 of molesting altar boy in 1970s. Denies allegations. Serving as a priest in Bolivia.
Dominic Savino: Carmelite priest allegedly abused teen boys in 1970s. Removed from ministry in March.
Arulappan Savrianandam: Accused of abusing teen girl in 1996; believed to be in India.
Fidencio Silva: Missionaries of the Holy Spirit priest investigated by police, named in civil suits charging abuse of eight boys from 1979 to 1985. Denied accusations; serving with religious order in Mexico.
Carl Sutphin: Accused of abusing four boys in 1960s and 1970s. Retired in February, removed from ministry in June.
Santiago Tamayo: Accused of sexually abusing woman 20 years ago. Moved to the Philippines and died in 1996.
Carl Tresler: Removed from ministry in 1998 after claim of abuse of teen boy. Now thought to be serving in Peru.
Christian Van Liefde: Placed on leave in June after archdiocese received allegation of inappropriate conduct with a minor 28 years ago.
Michael Wempe: Removed from ministry in April over abuse accusations in 1970s and 1980s. Received counseling, was reassigned as chaplain at Cedars Sinai hospital in 1988.
John Wishard: Charged in 1980 with oral copulation of a minor; pleaded no contest, received probation. Charge later dismissed. Retired in 1997, laicized in August.
G. Patrick Ziemann: Former bishop of Santa Rosa removed from ministry in 1999 after a priest filed sex abuse lawsuit. Suit filed in July alleges sex abuse of a minor while in Los Angeles in 1970s and 1980s.
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