Mahony Resources – May 2003
By Steve Carney
The hosts of "The John & Ken Show" are barely finished championing their latest crusade, or flogging their latest miscreant, when another target crops up. Luckily for them, John Kobylt says, "there seems to be no shortage of idiocy."
Kobylt and his partner, Ken Chiampou, heard weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on KFI-AM (640), say they search for topics that may not make the front page or the top of the broadcast news hour but will nevertheless resonate with listeners: an injustice that listeners recognize is also happening at their kid's school or at their job, or an obscure bill that could affect their lives. Or Kobylt and Chiampou spotlight some reprobate for public ridicule. And a groundswell of listener interest begins.
"This is radio as theater -- good guys, bad guys, some moral issue. There's a clear villain and easily identifiable victims," Kobylt said. And with new characters or developments emerging each day, "it's something you can almost create a serial out of."
Their most recent battle was successfully rallying listeners to shut down a Web site, schoolscandals.com, run by a San Fernando Valley high school student that was essentially a virtual bathroom wall, where students could write rumors, lies, innuendo and other profane comments about classmates.
Now they've taken up the cause of Teri March, whose husband, David, was an L.A. sheriff's deputy gunned down April 29, 2002, in Irwindale. The suspected killer, Armando Garcia, fled to Mexico, which refuses to extradite anyone facing the death penalty or life imprisonment. Kobylt and Chiampou have begun calling all the members of the California congressional delegation to put them on the spot about the case, and announcing the lawmakers' office phone numbers and e-mail addresses, so their listeners can exert some pressure of their own.
If the duo can't persuade a legislator to come onto the program, they ask their audience to start lobbying. "We're going to announce that we've got them on the air," Chiampou said during a show last week, "or you're going to do some work."
Now on their second tour of duty at KFI, John and Ken have been fixtures on the local scene since 1992. They met in 1986 at a station in Canton, Pa., then began working together two years later at an oldies station in Atlantic City, N.J. They moved on to WKXW in Trenton, N.J., gaining fame by attacking the tax policies of then-Gov. Jim Florio.
"They're able to mobilize their fans in a way that's quite remarkable," said Al Peterson, news-talk-sports editor at the trade magazine Radio & Records. "They want to rouse you to the cause."
Early last year, they organized a write-in campaign to defeat the reelection bid of Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline, indicted on child pornography and molestation charges. More than 233,000 voters wrote in names of Kline's 11 challengers.
Kobylt, 41, said the success of their Kline campaign led a listener to forward them e-mails in April 2002 from Cardinal Roger Mahony and his staff about their tactics to deal with priests accused of abuse, which the pair read on the air -- adding even more fuel to the hot news story of the day and prompting a visit from the district attorney's office. He said their audience believes, "Oh, give this to John and Ken, they'll run with it."
Chiampou added, "We know what our audience expects of us, and we have that down to a science. They're looking to us to filter through the nonsense and the mistruths."
Change in focus
But the show wasn't always so focused or activist, and Chiampou, 46, said the Kline case wouldn't "have hit on our radar five years ago." The pair used to change topics by the hour but recognized their biggest audience increases came when they latched onto multiday stories, such as the O.J. Simpson and Menendez murder trials.
"We love covering the trials, to point out the absurdity of the legal system," Kobylt said.
Last year, during the San Diego trial of David Westerfield, eventually convicted of killing his 7-year-old neighbor Danielle van Dam, the pair compared the jury's intellect to broccoli for not returning with a guilty verdict quickly enough, and handed out stalks of the vegetable in front of the courthouse. The trial judge called Kobylt and Chiampou "idiots."
"We didn't do it to get attention," Kobylt said, but were just making a joke: " 'Why don't we go down to the courthouse and pass out the broccoli stalks?' We went to sleep, woke up the next morning and all hell had broken loose."
"People say we just do this for ratings," Chiampou said.
"The truth is, we do everything for ratings," Kobylt finished. "Yes, that's our job. I can show you the contract."
They organized a listeners' parade of 75 sport-utility vehicles to Sacramento last summer, to protest a proposed law to regulate tailpipe emissions. They hounded the Beverly Hills-based Trevor Law Group, accusing them of abusing the state's consumer-protection laws to file frivolous suits against vulnerable small businesses. California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer has since filed suit against the group, which is under investigation by federal prosecutors. And, leading up to the war with Iraq, John & Ken organized protests against celebrities who they felt were ill-informed and were misusing their fame to speak out against the war. "I think they needed to hear some free speech in the other direction," Kobylt said. "If they deserve it, they're going to get it. This is not 'Meet the Press.' It's not the Jim Lehrer 'NewsHour.' "
Their show is far more advocacy than analysis. Unlike many talk-radio hosts, they're not picking targets and dropping bombs from a safe perch above the fray. Instead, when they see a story to follow, they parachute into the middle of it, bayonets fixed and urging their listeners to follow them in.
Nor are they the Republican or Libertarian ideologues found on so many other talk-radio programs. For example, Kobylt called the Bush administration "absolutely shameful" for not doing more in the March case.
"We'll take on a windbag from any political camp," Kobylt said in an interview. "I'd rather attach myself to what's going on in the world than try to promote some stupid ideology."
Getting the numbers
Although one recent target -- the father of the teenage Web master of schoolscandals.com -- called their show "the news equivalent of professional wrestling," the latest Arbitron ratings indicate they're doing exactly what their station and their audience want them to do. In the first three months of the year, among listeners ages 12 and older, John & Ken finished ahead of afternoon rivals Tom Leykis on KLSX-FM (97.1) and Larry Elder on KABC-AM (790).
"They're about as good as a team could be," said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers Magazine, the talk-radio industry journal.
"They're socially and politically dynamic, not only funny and entertaining but extremely influential in the community they operate in. They're a true act, like Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis," he said. "They formed together, they came up through the ranks together, and they've evolved and matured in a very, very distinct way."
The pair came to KFI from New Jersey in 1992, then left for rival KABC-AM (790) in a contract dispute in 1999. But they returned to KFI in early 2001, saying that KABC station management was too timid, and that they weren't suited to the morning drive slot they had switched to.
When they moved to KABC, they gave up syndicating their program, which had been broadcast to about 125 stations nationwide. Kobylt said they're most comfortable and effective taking on local and state issues.
"I think what we're doing now is probably the best format for us," he said.
The pair's brash style rankles some, who question the taste of broadcasting from in front of a murder suspect's house. And the duo can induce some outrage of their own, such as when they blame a recurring target -- illegal immigrants -- for emergency-room overcrowding or traffic, for example.
"People used to be appalled that Mike Wallace would shove a microphone and camera in someone's face," Radio & Records' Peterson said. "Not everyone's going to like their style or like their techniques. But if they believe they're right, they're going to stick to it."
By Fr. Robert Silva
Be strong, let your heart take courage
Welcome to Kansas City. It is a great honor to welcome you to this 35th anniversary celebration of the National Federation of Priests Councils in the United States. We offer our thanks to Bishop Boland and to Archbishop Kelleher for their gracious invitation to the dioceses on the river and in the heartland. We are grateful as we gather together to consider who we are and what we are about in this year 2003.
This convention is important for three reasons: first, we celebrate 35 years of NFPC history. Second, it is a year since the scandals over the sexual abuse of children and the misuse of authority broke. Third, we honor a most distinguished priest who has influenced the pastoral life of the Church in this country in immeasurable ways.
Thirty-Five Years of Service
As you know, it was in 1968, following a year of laying the groundwork that the “Committee of Eight” called together priests from around the country with the intention of forming an organization that could address the lives of priests, speak their needs and voice their concerns on pastoral and social issues confronting the Church. They did not do this because they thought it a nice thing to do nor even because they were partly discontent with the slow pace of renewal.
The NFPC was born out of the conviction voiced in the Second Vatican Council that collegiality and co-responsibility were key notions within the People of God. The Council spoke of a group of presbyters which would be set up in each diocese to act as a senate. Because of the “common sharing in the same priesthood and ministry” the bishop and priests would form the presbyterate from among which a senate was to be chosen to “represent the body of priests and by their advice … effectively help the bishop in the management of the diocese” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7)
Motivated by these and similar calls of the Council, and aware of the kinds of needs surfacing among the clergy and in the life of the Church in the United States, more than three hundred priests gathered in Chicago to ratify a constitution that gave birth to the largest national organization of priests in the world.
It was a heady and challenging time for the young priests and the young president, Father Pat O’Malley. Almost immediately the Humanae Vitae dissension embroiled the newly formed Federation in controversy. The controversy continued as the priests struggled with the Synod decision on celibacy and a married clergy. Strong stands on social issues were attempts to bring the Gospel to bear on justice issues. But, at times these stands were viewed by some as political and the Gospel witness hard to see. Generally, though, the pastoral mission that was at the heart of the Federation’s life was visible in its outreach through some fine programs dealing with topics like The Family Farm, Prisons and Jail Ministries, Ministry with Undocumented and most recently multiculturalism and pluriculturalism.
It is unfortunate that the NFPC came to be so identified with the advocacy stance it took in support of the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington in the Humanae Vitae discussions. For, as one man in those early days put it: “Our view is not myopic. We are looking to ourselves now – but only that we might later look to the Church and the world.” (Priests In Council, Frank Brown, 1979, p xxv) The pastoral mission of the Church was a central motivating force of the NFPC. If the NFPC spent time on organizational issues, priests’ issues such as due process and compensation, it was only to provide a way to more effective pastoral ministry.
As one priest put it: “We have come together so that we might work and plan together. We look forward to an exciting new priesthood whose lines are as yet unclear to us, a priesthood which underscores service, challenge, imagination, vision, freedom and professionalism. We shall move toward that priesthood by taking steps which are coordinated and deliberate, changing those things which we have a responsibility to change…We are about a very serious effort to enrich the Church profoundly. We would have no one think we were planning anything less.”
All of you know the kind of resistances that arise in the formation of new initiatives. And resistances there were, especially in the chaotic years of the late sixties and seventies! In the midst of the cultural dislocations of the time, the priests of the United States were struggling to come of age. (Priests In Council, p.4) But the NFPC exercised courage in taking up the creation of new structures like personnel boards, retirement boards, continuing education programs. At the same time, they continued their advocacy for optional celibacy, inclusion of women and local election of bishops. One can only imagine the resistance of local Ordinaries upon hearing of some NFPC resolutions. Yet, much of the work of the NFPC provided the structures that have affirmed the ministry, not only of priests, but of lay ministers as well.
Through the eighties and nineties, the NFPC maintained its energetic pursuit of priest’s well-being and the needs of the pastoral mission of the Church. But, something in the Church and in society had changed. It was the NFPC’s obligation to respond. The style of confrontation so appropriate and effective in the protest years of the sixties and seventies shifted. Confrontation techniques as a way to get things done now led to paralysis. In order to continue to hold a place at the table, the NFPC moved from confrontation to cooperation, as Nick Rice so aptly put it. And Doug Doussan, whom many of you know, affirmed the shift as giving more room for the NFPC “to help priests clarify their priorities, to work to empower people, and to become more theologically and ministerially competent.”
Thus, the development of a strategic plan for the Federation, the development of an executive committee, and efforts at research, new publications and workshops. Always slightly ahead, the NFPC has looked at the shortage of priests, laity in ministry, priest-lay relations, priestless parishes, Sunday service without a priest, and formation for ministry, all before these issues became “household words”. It has initiated studies that looked at the early years following ordination, trends among priests of the last forty years and the international priest issue. And it partners well with the Bishops’ Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry.
In a word, the task of the founders and the work of the early years are completed. The NFPC is no longer an excited , wild-eyed child of the post-conciliar era for whom all things are possible. At 35, the NFPC has come of age. The testing of its staying power is the confrontation with the child sexual abuse scandals.
The Year of the Scandals
In 1985 the foreshadowing of a very disturbing future drifted across the horizon of the clerical world. Cases of clergy sexual abuse of children and youth in larger numbers than at first was thought began to surface. In the early 90’s the child sexual abuse scandals broke open. They demanded a response. At that time, through local and national efforts on the part of individual bishops and the Bishops’ Conference, it was thought that the problem had been resolved or at least brought under control.
The startling and horrible outbreak of this scourge of sexual abuse that exploded into the headlines in January of 2002 left the priests of this country horrified and stunned. There were three things that were incomprehensible. They were the crime itself, the large numbers of priests involved, and the way in which bishops had been handling such cases.
For most priests in the country their first concern was for the people whom they knew and loved who had been abused. That such a crime could be perpetrated against innocent children, vulnerable youths and their families was unthinkable. Yet, it was real and needed to be faced.
Considerable efforts have been made to address the needs of those who have been abused and hurt by priests. Dioceses and parishes have enacted various means of pastoral outreach, services of healing, counseling opportunities and educational efforts. Across the country there are dedicated efforts at making the Church safe for children. The National Review Board is in place and working hard to do a comprehensive evaluation of what has happened. The office of Kathleen McChesney is functioning and growing more effective each day. Caring pastors – bishops, priests and lay ministers –have responded with compassion and sensitivity. Having recognized the evil for what it is, the Church in this country has responded well in its pastoral task. Even as I say this, I am aware that more needs to be done pastorally in bringing about healing and health for those who were subjected to sexual abuse by a priest.
Reeling from the public outrage and disillusionment of the laity and the civic authority, and facing unprecedented lawsuits, the bishops gathered in Dallas at their June meeting. Their purpose was not to strategize a pastoral response, but to deal with institutional policy. They attempted to put in place policies and procedures that could effectively deal with the crime of sexual abuse of children among the clergy. Their hope was that they might lessen the intensity of the outrage and regain some credibility as moral leaders. We all know, policies of such import cannot be enacted and implemented quickly. Consequently, the debate which followed, including the consultations in Rome, have fallen somewhat short. There just simply was not the time for the discussion and deliberation needed to put a fail-safe policy in place.
As a result, there are concerns which a year later still plague us. I will not address all or most of these problems. Here, I want to focus on three items which I feel are most important; namely, the relationship of bishop to priest and priest to bishop; a continuing concern about the rights of priest-perpetrators and priests in general; and, the connection between the community of priests with the “one strike and you’re out” policy.
Bishops and Priests
First, distinctions must be made between what was an attempt at policy setting and the feelings of those for whom the policy was being made. Many priests felt that the bishops simply abandoned them and enacted policies that placed priests in a most vulnerable position. Instead of the bishop being an advocate for the priest in his troubles, in the perception of many priests he became an adversary. Many priests’ immediate reaction was that they could not trust their bishop. Two common quotes were: If I go in to see the bishop I will make sure I have my attorney with me;” and, “The bishops just threw us to the dogs.” The truth is that this situation is extremely complicated. The pressure being placed on bishops by legal systems and by the threat of themselves being accused as complicit in some way with the crime has placed individual bishops in a very difficult and almost impossible situation. That being said, though, this tragic breach between priests and bishops still exists in some places and is real for some. For the sake of the Church and the mission of the Gospel, priests and bishops must realize that they are not adversaries but brothers in a community of the presbyterate. I urge priests and bishops to relinquish any defensiveness and to enter dialogue that is honest, open and loving that leads to a restored confidence and trust among the members of the presbyterate.
The Rights of Priests
Second is the question of rights. I want to recognize and applaud the work that has been done to insure just treatment for priests. In particular the Canon Law Society’s publication that provides commentary on the Charter and Norms has been very helpful. In an unofficial survey conducted by my office, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Dioceses have worked hard to develop just and fair ways of dealing with the different situations that face them depending on the nature of the priest’s case. Still, I think there is need for further vigilance. Even as the mood of the country makes the defense of civil rights the subject of editorials, within the Church, the right to confidentiality, the right to reputation, the right to the application of justice within a reasonable amount of time, the right to appropriate defense are items needing more consideration. Bishops and their curial officials, canonists, civil lawyers and judges must continue to argue these issues, in such a way that we progress in our understandings of rights. Victims of abuse are owed such deliberation and clarification. Perpetrators are owed the same. Priests are owed the same.
One Strike and You’re Out
The Second Vatican Council speaks of the relationship of Bishop and priests as that of father, brother and friend. In fact, the document, Christus Dominus, speaks of “…one priestly body and one family…”. (Christus Dominus, 28) using familial language. The priest’s expectation of an unbreakable spiritual relationship with his bishop and the presbyterate is something that is affirmed in the conciliar document Presbyterorum Ordinis. There we read: “All priests share with the bishops the one identical priesthood and ministry of Christ.” And again: “On account of this common sharing in the same priesthood and ministry then, bishops are to regard their priests as brothers and friends.” ( Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7) Later in paragraph 8, the same document says: “All priests, who are constituted in the order of priesthood by the sacrament of Order, are bound together by an intimate sacramental brotherhood;…because of the same brotherly bond of priesthood, priests ought to realize that they have an obligation towards those laboring under difficulties….they ought always to treat with fraternal charity and compassion those who have failed in certain ways.”
I want to reiterate once again what I said a year ago. We are not and cannot experience ourselves as a corporation or business institution. We are Church. What we have just heard about the community of the presbyterate calls us to a different response than would be expected of a corporation. Thus, automatic dismissal from the priestly state upon the commission of a crime becomes an issue. Can we simply dismiss someone from priesthood? It raises for me, at least, the need to revisit the “one strike and your out” policy.
Here, I am not suggesting that an offender would be placed back in public ministry. What I am suggesting is that while the Church must be able to remove the priest from ministry, it must find some place within its community where these priests can live, do something productive and be held accountable. They are, after all, still human beings and priests. Simply removing one of our brothers from the priestly state or sending him away without support and without any systems of accountability does not seem to be the answer. We must have as a priority the protection of children from priest-offenders. But we must think creatively of ways to assist the offending priest live a converted life while at the same time holding him accountable through appropriate supervision. I encourage the Bishops to look once again at the “one strike and you are out” policy, asking if this is in the best interest of the victims, the Church and the priest offender.
Honoring a Distinguished Priest
Following a year where the system of priestly formation, the way of priestly life, the charism of celibacy and the governance structures of the Church have all come under scrutiny here in the United States, it is important for priests to hold up those from among us who represent the very best of what a priest is. Monsignor Phil Murnion is one of those priests. In an article Monsignor Murnion has recently written, he says: “Mentors are important in every aspect of church life. They are people we can imitate, who will challenge us without dominating us, who will call us to accountability more by asking questions than by doing evaluations.” As we will see on Thursday at the President’s Award ceremony, Phil is a priest who can well be imitated, who has it within him to challenge us to greater excellence, and who has the great gift of asking the right questions. He is a real mentor for the priests of the country. We are pleased to have Phil as mentor and friend.
Pope John Paul in the very first lines of his encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia writes: “The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church”. The Eucharist is the central foundation of a priest’s life. It is there in the summary act of Eucharist with God’s People that he proclaims God’s Word, celebrates the dying and rising of Jesus, calls the Church into being and leads and sends the disciples on Mission. Grounded in the Eucharist the priest becomes for a waiting world a sign of hope, the realization that there is more and that the mystery of life is lived even beyond the boundary of death.
My Brothers, we live at the “heart of the mystery of the Church.” It is a most privileged place and a most awesome responsibility. As the Federation of Priests’ Councils we celebrate the privilege of thirty-five years of serving togetherin this most privileged place. We face courageously those areas of our lives in which we have failed our God, our Church and our people. And we see in one of our brothers the results of a priestly life lived with responsibility and dedication.
We enter the deliberations of this week with confidence in our God, with hope in Christ’s resurrection and with the courage which is the gift of the Spirit.
God bless you.
By Larry B. Stammer
Kansas, Mo. - The president of a nationwide federation of Roman Catholic priests called on U.S. bishops Tuesday to rethink the part of the church's sexual abuse prevention policy that allows the expulsion of abusive priests from the priesthood.
Guilty priests should never be allowed to return to public ministry, but neither should they be removed from the priesthood, Father Bob Silva of Stockton said in a speech here to the National Federation of Priests' Councils.
"We are not and cannot experience ourselves as a corporation or business institution. We are church," Silva said.
Silva also spoke out in favor of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's efforts to withhold some personnel records of priests and other documents from prosecutors.
Bishops must exercise "further vigilance" in protecting the confidentiality of priests' records, he said. In many jurisdictions, records are being sought by civil attorneys and criminal prosecutors to discover possible instances of sexual abuse.
"Even as the mood of the country makes the defense of civil rights the subject of editorials, within the church the right to confidentiality, the right to reputation, the right to application of justice within a reasonable amount of time, the right to appropriate defense are items needing more consideration," Silva told the priests.
After the speech, he said in an interview that Mahony is "trying very hard to protect the confidentiality" of priests.
Mahony, who at one point had said he would not withhold any records, has since argued that some communications between bishops and priests should remain confidential. To disclose them, the Los Angeles archdiocese has argued, would violate freedom of religion.
Attorneys representing victims have said Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston made the same arguments before he resigned as archbishop. These attorneys said that the public disclosure of such documents in Boston had revealed how extensive the sexual abuse of minors had been and how much misconduct church officials had covered up.
The U.S. bishops adopted a "zero tolerance" policy on sexual abuse last year. The policy requires that if a single act of sexual abuse of a minor has been admitted or established, the offending priest must be removed from any public ministry. The policy also allows -- but does not mandate -- removing abusive priests from the clergy, a process the church refers to as "laicization."
With that policy, "many priests felt that the bishops simply abandoned them," Silva said.
"Instead of the bishop being an advocate for the priest in his troubles, in the perception of many priests, he became an adversary. Many priests' immediate reaction was that they could not trust their bishop."
Silva said he did not expect the bishops would make any changes in their policy this soon after its adoption. But his remarks clearly reflected the views of many priests and drew applause from the several hundred gathered here.
"Ordination means we do have a commitment," said Father Robert J. McCann, a canon lawyer in the Diocese of Oakland. Even abusive priests will "always be part of our family, and to just throw them in the gutter? No family would do that," he said.
Abusive priests should be kept in the church under supervision so that they cannot harm children again, McCann added. "Are we doing more disservice to the world at large by setting him [abusive priest] up so he's going to live alone and no one is checking on him and he can befriend the neighborhood kids?"
But David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse, called Silva's approach troubling and premature.
"The overwhelming majority of cases I'm aware of, priests have not been formally defrocked," Clohessy said.
"They still draw a pension, a salary, health benefits and all the rest."
"The problem of course is the track record that the bishops have compiled," Clohessy said. "It's hard, given the horrific disclosures of the last 15 months, at this early stage, to even imagine amending a document that we fundamentally think is weak and flawed to begin with."
Clohessy also criticized Silva's support for withholding documents.
"Confidentiality on the part of the accused has over and over again led to more abuse," he said.
"A priest's reputation, while important, absolutely pales in comparison with a child's safety. It's far easier for a priest to repair his reputation than a child to repair his or her emotional, psychological and spiritual life."
By Tracy Wilson
A retired Catholic priest accused of molesting six boys in Ventura County during the late 1960s and 1970s pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of child molestation Monday after a judge denied a defense motion to throw out the case.
Attorneys for Father Carl Sutphin, 70, had argued that it is unfair and unconstitutional for the government to file sex abuse charges after so many years.
"It is difficult for anyone to recall what they did at specific times on specific days so long ago," lawyer Kay Duffy said after the hearing in Ventura County Superior Court. "We have charges from 30 years ago. We have a very elderly defendant. It's difficult to prepare a defense."
But prosecutors countered that the state law repealing the time limit for filing certain sex abuse charges has been upheld by the California Supreme Court, and allowed them to bring charges against Sutphin after alleged victims came forward during the last year.
California is the only state to have repealed its time limit for filing charges for sex crimes against children.
The state Legislature enacted the law in 1994. It is now being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court and a ruling is expected as early as next month.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Doug Ridley said Monday that he feels confident the high court will uphold the state law and find that a repeal of the statute of limitations on certain sex cases does not violate constitutional protections.
But he also conceded that an unfavorable ruling would probably result in dismissal of charges against Sutphin.
The retired priest is accused of molesting six boys, ages 7 to 12, between 1968 and 1978 while serving as an associate pastor at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Camarillo and as a chaplain at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard.
He was arrested April 4 at his 96-year-old mother's home in Ventura on suspicion of molesting four boys.
He was scheduled to be arraigned in late April, but the matter was postponed after Ridley filed a second criminal complaint involving two more victims.
A judge consolidated the cases and set arraignment for May 5, but that hearing was postponed after Sutphin suffered a near stroke and underwent medical tests at St. John's.
On Monday, Sutphin, who is free on $200,000 bail, appeared in court with attorneys James Farley and Duffy, who are representing him at no cost. Farley entered not-guilty pleas on behalf of the priest after Judge Art Gutierrez denied the motion to dismiss the case. Gutierrez set a preliminary hearing for June 9.
Sutphin most recently worked at St. Vibiana's Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles and at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels while it was under construction.
By Lance Pugmire
A priest who worked in the Inland Empire for more than 40 years, serving as a pastor at churches in San Bernardino, Riverside, Corona and Colton, pleaded not guilty Thursday to 12 counts of sexual abuse for allegedly molesting two teenage boys in the 1960s.
Peter Hernandez Luque, 68, sat quietly next to his attorney after making his plea in San Bernardino Superior Court and left the courthouse without making any further comment.
The prosecutor described the evidence against Luque as very strong and said he is confident of a conviction."This was not only a betrayal of trust, but a betrayal of his message," said Asst. Dist. Atty. Kurt Rowley of the San Bernardino County district attorney's office.
Luque is charged with lewd conduct and oral copulation for allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy between March 1 and April 30, 1966, in San Bernardino. He faces 10 additional charges for five alleged incidents of oral copulation and sodomy with a teenage boy between Feb. 11, 1967, and Feb. 10, 1969 in Colton.
The first alleged victim is now 53 and reported his accusations to the San Bernardino Police Department on April 25, 2002. One week later, following publicity generated by the accusations, the other alleged victim, now 50, reported his allegations to the Colton Police Department.
Msgr. Luque resigned March 1 as pastor of the 6,700-family St. Edward Catholic Church in Corona.
A graduate of Colton High and former cheerleader at San Bernardino Valley College, Luque was ordained in 1962 and has served at St. Anthony Catholic Church in San Bernardino, Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Riverside, San Salvador Catholic Church in Colton and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Bernardino.
He was named pastor of St. Edward in 1994, replacing a priest who had been accused of sexual misconduct with an adult.
Luque's attorney, Steven Harmon, is asking for the case to be dismissed and might contend that the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes has expired.
However, the prosecutor said the charges were filed within a year of the allegations being made to police. Under a California law passed in 1994, authorities are allowed to prosecute alleged sexual abusers no matter how old the crimes, but the charges must be filed within one year of the victim's reporting the incidents to authorities.
A woman who met with the prosecutor after the proceeding and identified herself as the sister of the 50-year-old alleged victim said Luque confessed to her about the abuse when she met with him at his San Bernardino office in 1986. Rowley said the woman's testimony will be a significant part of his case.
The woman, who refused to identify herself, said her mother was a member of the San Salvador church in Colton while Luque was pastor from 1969-78. She said Luque presided over her two sisters' marriages. When her mother died, Luque acknowledged his guilt, the woman said.
"I told him he at least owed my brother an apology," the woman said. "He wouldn't give it. I'm here for my mom's and my brother's justice, and I say to the Catholic Church: Please ban further use of the word 'Father' with these men."
She said her family also plans a civil lawsuit.In a similar case, San Bernardino County Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos said he will not immediately pursue statutory rape charges against Paul Shanley, 71, a former priest who served in the Diocese of San Bernardino. Shanley has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of child rape in Massachusetts and has been accused of sexually abusing a boy in Big Bear in 1990.
Ramos said he will wait for Massachusetts' prosecution to proceed.
By Brooks Egerton
Dallas Catholic Bishop Charles Grahmann has, after weeks of protest by parishioners, gone public with his reason for firing a popular Frisco priest: that the Rev. Armando Beltran repeatedly violated orders to get permission for fund raising.
But the priest recently named to replace him was similarly disobedient to Los Angeles church officials, documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News show. They chastised the Rev. Ernesto Villaroya for operating an unauthorized ministry for personal gain and invalidated marriages he performed.
These revelations follow widely publicized reports that Monsignor Villaroya had been accused of raping a nun 20 years ago and had admitted fathering her child. He declined to comment for this story.
Bishop Grahmann and his aides have spent the past week trying to calm the storm over Monsignor Villaroya's reinstatement to St. Francis of Assisi Church in Frisco. They have said he deserves forgiveness because they believe the sex was consensual, it was a long time ago and he has behaved well ever since.
Last week, the bishop's top aide, Chancellor Mary Edlund, told The News that the priest's more recent problems in the Los Angeles Archdiocese occurred because he "did not understand the protocol of the archdiocese" and were merely an administrative infraction.
After being shown Ms. Edlund's written statement, Los Angeles Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg late Friday released three letters that a top archdiocese official sent to Monsignor Villaroya in the 1990s. Each one asked him to return to his native country, the Philippines.
"It has once again come to my attention that you are ... continuing to perform sacramental liturgies without holding faculties," a 1993 letter stated. "The marriages you perform without benefit of those faculties are rendered invalid, and the harm being done as a result to unsuspecting families ... appears to be great.
"It would seem that you have decided to follow an independent course for your own material gain, without concern for the rights and needs of members of the Catholic Church in Los Angeles."
Monsignor Villaroya said he could not comment without permission from Ms. Edlund. She did not respond to requests for comment on the correspondence, which Mr. Tamberg said he also faxed to the Dallas Diocese on Friday.
Mr. Tamberg said the archdiocese would not discuss its experiences with Monsignor Villaroya.
Tenure in California
In an e-mail sent before the letters were released, Ms. Edlund said Monsignor Villaroya did not seek permission to serve in Los Angeles because he had moved there to care for his ailing parents. The last letter, from 1995, shows that he ultimately did seek an assignment – and was rejected.
"This decision is based on testimony of priest leaders in the Filipino community ... as well as past discussions with Cardinal [Roger] Mahony and the Archdiocesan Priests' Personnel Board," the letter stated.
Dallas Diocese officials did not ask the Los Angeles Archdiocese for information before hiring him, Bishop Grahmann's aides have said. They said they relied on an assurance from his home diocese of Masbate in the Philippines that he was a priest in good standing.
And "when we recently learned of LA's communication to Fr. Villaroya, he already had a history with the Dallas Diocese which was a good one," Ms. Edlund's e-mail said.
At the time the Dallas Diocese hired him, in 1996, Monsignor Villaroya apparently had not worked officially as a priest in 12 years. A top Masbate Diocese official recently told The News that his diocese never investigated the circumstances of his accuser's pregnancy, during which the priest left the Philippines. The accuser has said he departed after pressing her to have an abortion.
Mr. Tamberg, the Los Angeles Archdiocese spokesman, said the Dallas Diocese has not sought information about Monsignor Villaroya since the accuser sued the priest and church leaders last year. The suit led to his removal from an Ennis parish last summer.
After the suit was recently dismissed before evidence was heard, Monsignor Villaroya was reassigned to St. Francis of Assisi. That decision has touched off further controversy among parishioners who were already angry over the firing of their previous associate pastor, Father Beltran.
For three months, Hispanic parishioners have been asking why the bishop removed Father Beltran and sent him home to South America. They got no answers until the priest went on nationwide radio last week in Colombia to say that Dallas church leaders had unjustly accused him of fund-raising improprieties.
Ms. Edlund then provided a written statement saying that the head pastor in Frisco, the Rev. Leon Duesman, "had spoken to Father Beltran on at least six occasions regarding his fund-raising activities and solicitation of funds from parishioners."
Those conversations led to a September 2002 agreement requiring the priest to get permission for solicitations. An excerpt from his termination letter says he was accused of further violations, such as seeking help for new church construction in Colombia.
"Such solicitations exploit the benevolence of the people of the parish who feel obliged to accommodate the requests of a priest," states the excerpt, which Ms. Edlund released. "Further, the violations of a signed agreement have torn asunder the essential trust needed" between Father Beltran and Monsignor Duesman.
Father Beltran said one accusation was that he had asked his Frisco parishioners for a plane ticket to vacation in South America. "That's a lie," he told Radio Caracol, making his first public comment on the controversy. "I never sought money for that."
Instead, Father Beltran said, parishioners surprised him with the ticket as a Father's Day gift last year and showered him with presents on his birthday.
Edgar Villalobos, a leader of Frisco parishioners who have protested Father Beltran's removal and Monsignor Villaroya's reassignment, said that parishioners freely gave gifts.
He said Monsignor Duesman seemed threatened by the popularity of Father Beltran, who had brought in hundreds of new Hispanic worshippers to the church.
Monsignor Duesman has declined to comment. He and Ms. Edlund met Friday with several of the parishioners who organized a protest at the church last Sunday and who have called on Bishop Grahmann to resign.
The parishioners said they agreed to quit protesting while officials determine, over the next couple of weeks, what to do. One option being discussed is a parish vote on whether Monsignor Villaroya should stay at St. Francis.
Monsignor Villaroya did not celebrate the Spanish-language Mass as planned last Sunday. He will not celebrate it again this week, Ms. Edlund said in her e-mail, "so that he can focus on contacting and meeting with parishioners so they can get to know him."
In the latest edition of the Dallas Diocese's newspaper, Monsignor Villaroya
said the woman who accused him of rape tried to enlist him in a scheme
to extort millions of dollars from the Catholic Church.
Monsignor Villaroya said he has since learned Ms. Arambulo might have already left the Sisters of Charity when he first met her. "She decided to be a Baptist, even though she wore her habit still," he said.
The two met again in Southern California last year to discuss child support. That, the priest said, is when she tried to enlist his help in a lawsuit against church leaders and offered him a $250,000 share of the proceeds.
Ms. Arambulo scoffed at the allegations. She said that no one from the Dallas Diocese or its newspaper has ever asked to speak with her.
"He's like a man in quicksand," she said of Monsignor Villaroya. "The more he moves, the more he goes down."
Ms. Arambulo moved to Southern California in the mid-1990s with her son and the man she married after leaving her religious order.
She has said she began a child-support action – which is still pending – but lost track of Monsignor Villaroya.
Last year, she tracked him down, got him to sign a paternity affidavit and had him meet their son for the first time.
Then Ms. Arambulo filed a lawsuit accusing him of rape and alleging that diocesan leaders in Dallas, Los Angeles and Masbate had conspired to hide him. A judge dismissed the case, saying that she had waited too long to sue and lacked evidence of wrongdoing by the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
He also fined her attorney and wrote, according to California news accounts, that the suit apparently "was filed to obtain publicity and not for any proper purpose."
Ms. Edlund has questioned why Ms. Arambulo and her family took the priest into their California home last summer, saying that "a rape victim doesn't invite an alleged rapist" to visit.
Ms. Arambulo said she welcomed Monsignor Villaroya into her home because she wanted her son to know his father – and wanted the father to start paying for the consequences of his actions.
By Amanda Riddle
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Cardinal Roger M. Mahony dedicated a chapel Sunday in remembrance of victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, believed to be the first such sanctuary of its kind, officials said.
The chapel, located on the southern side of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, contains a book where parishioners can inscribe a victim's name.
Mahony, head of the nation's largest Catholic archdiocese with an estimated 5 million Catholics, told parishioners during Mass at the cathedral that it's important to reach out with love to those "who have any way been affected by that terrible scourge."
"Let this chapel be a symbol of our responsibility to continue to reach out to all those who have been affected by abuse," Mahony said after leading a procession to the newly dedicated worship area.
"We ask you time to time to stop at that chapel to offer a prayer of healing and reconciliation for all who have suffered abuse," he said.
Mahony dedicated the new shrine even as his archdiocese is embroiled in a legal battle over priest personnel files wanted by prosecutors and victims' lawyers as evidence in civil and criminal cases against former priests.
Church lawyers have said releasing the personnel files would violate the priests' rights to privacy. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office went to court to demand the records. A judge's decision is pending in the case.
"We've left it up to the courts to decide," Mahony told reporters after blessing the chapel.
George Bolanos, 51, of Los Angeles, was among the first to inscribe the chapel's book. He wrote the name of a close friend who told him he was sexually abused by a priest in the Los Angeles Archdiocese in the 1970s. Bolanos said his friend was considering suing under a new law that temporarily lifts the statute of limitations for civil sexual abuse cases in which an institution knowingly employed a molester.
"I think it's the start of a healing process," Bolanos said of the chapel. "Obviously there is a great deal of sadness and depression about this issue."
Joseph Melton, 68, of Fresno, said other Catholic church leaders should create similar chapels to help victims and their alleged abusers.
"This chapel is just a symbol of what needs to happen throughout the whole church," he said. "What I wrote was a prayer for each priest who has violated a child, that they be forgiven and healed."
By Steve Hymon
Within minutes of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's taking the unusual step Sunday of establishing a chapel in the downtown Los Angeles cathedral to honor victims of sexual abuse by priests, the first names of some of the molested were entered in a special book by friends and family.
One page began to fill quickly:
"My Loved Ones W & S & K."
The chapel is one of 10 alcoves that line the halls in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels; another chapel, for example, is dedicated to church members who are serving in the military. The small soaring area devoted to sexual abuse victims includes a prayer table, candles to be lighted and a bulletin board where churchgoers can pin photos of priests' victims.
On the wall is a painting of farmers tending crops. In the middle of the field is a tree with a small boy standing in the branches. The words "truth shall spring out of the earth" are in one corner of the painting.
In the other are the words: "Justice shall look down from the heavens."
Mahony made the unexpected announcement of the dedication of the chapel during a morning Mass. "This past year, all of us read terrible stories of sexual abuse in the church," he said. "The stories filled us with anger, sadness and disappointment. It also filled us with resolve to do all that is humanly possible to eliminate the scourge of abuse from our church to ensure the safety of all of our people."
But the symbolic gesture of healing inflamed one woman who said she has been victimized by the church.
"A public relations stunt," fumed Mary Grant, regional director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, a group that says it represents about 400 victims of sex abuse by Catholic clergy in Southern California.
Shortly after Mahony knelt silently in the chapel in front of television cameras, Grant stood outside the church and lashed out at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles for not inviting or telling victims of abuse about the ceremony.
Tod Tamberg, the Archdiocese spokesman, later said, "We didn't invite SNAP, nor did we invite the victims who have been asking [the Archdiocese] for a more spiritual component to the healing process. We simply wanted to designate the chapel and, through the media, let everyone know that it's there for them."
Tamberg said the idea for the chapel originated with victims who wanted a place within the cathedral for the healing process to begin.
Near the end of the Mass, Mahony read a one-page statement to the half-filled church explaining the idea for the chapel. After the service, he led a procession of clergy through the cathedral to the chapel. He blessed the space and then answered a few questions from reporters, saying, "We need to get this resolved."
Grant said she only learned of the blessing of the new chapel when she woke up and found a telephone message on her answering machine from a television reporter.
"Clearly this continues to be about the cardinal and not the victims," Grant said. "I think Cardinal Mahony knew that if victims were aware of this ahead of time, they'd be here telling parishioners that real change needs to happen — and that the priests who abused them are not yet behind bars."
Some who visited the chapel after Mass said they were pleased that Mahony spoke to the issue of sex abuse.
"As a Catholic, it has been a painful experience," said Therese Sonnenfeld, 43, of Lake Forest, who was at the cathedral with her husband. "But this is good for the healing. It's a place to reach out."
"Clearly this is something that has been on the cardinal's mind," said Tony Ward, 45, of Burbank. "For him to address it to the congregation and speak openly about it benefits the congregation."
Nine retired or former priests from the diocese have been charged with crimes in Los Angeles County, and prosecutors want to see the personnel files on 31 other priests or church officials who they say are suspected of abuse.
Mahony has argued that he can't turn the files directly over to prosecutors because of privacy issues. As a result, the files have been subpoenaed by county prosecutors, and a judge is reviewing the files to see what information can be given to the county district attorney.
After the Mass, Joseph Melton, 68, of Fresno wrote in the book of victims' names "that Jesus forgive and heal each" priest who has abused a child or adult.
By Jean Guccione
Over the objections of the Roman Catholic church in San Diego, all civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests in Southern California were ordered Wednesday into a single courtroom in Los Angeles.
The ruling clears a roadblock in the case, but leaves several other issues unresolved, including the extent to which the church can withhold internal documents, and which judge will hear the case. It is expected to grow to more than 300 plaintiffs.
Giving a single judge overall jurisdiction provides "the big picture" of how many people were allegedly molested over many years by the same priests, said Venus Soltan, a lawyer representing clients in four dioceses.
"It's not possible for hundreds of cases to happen and no one knows about it," Soltan said.
The order "is recognition that [sexual abuse by priests] is a mass tort. It didn't just happen once. It happened a lot," said John Manly, another plaintiffs' attorney.
Micheal Webb, an attorney for the San Diego diocese, had asked Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elihu M. Berle to assign as many as 20 potential lawsuits against the San Diego and San Bernardino dioceses to a San Diego judge.
"These cases originated in San Diego. We think they should be resolved in San Diego by San Diego courts and San Diego juries," Webb said Wednesday.
Instead, Berle ordered those cases transferred to Los Angeles, where the same judge also will oversee as many as 200 potential cases against the Los Angeles and Orange County dioceses.
The biggest issue, for now, is who will preside.
California Chief Justice Ronald M. George appointed Berle to the Los Angeles and Orange cases. But Berle was disqualified by plaintiffs' lawyer Larry Drivon for unspecified reasons — an option held by all parties in the case.
Since then, attorneys in the clergy litigation have been awaiting his replacement.
J. Michael Hennigan, who represents the Los Angeles Archdiocese, said he continues to exchange information with the plaintiffs, but is frustrated without a trial judge in place.
"Right now, there is nobody home," he said.
The cases got off to a fast start in Los Angeles, where Judge Peter Lichtman began mediating a possible settlement of hundreds of potential cases late last year before they had been filed in the courts.
A new state law that took effect Jan. 1 eliminated the statute of limitations in child molestation cases for one year, creating a potential avalanche of new lawsuits based on older abuse allegations. But plaintiffs' lawyers have agreed not to file new lawsuits while Lichtman is mediating claims against the church.
Hennigan said he believes that things are slowing because Lichtman, who was appointed before the cases were ordered coordinated, now thinks that he lacks the authority to proceed.
Raymond Boucher, a plaintiffs' lawyer with more than 200 clients suing the church, said a trial judge is needed to begin resolving some of the legal issues.
Among them is whether the church can assert its constitutional right of religious freedom to stop the exchange of documents, including admissions of child sexual abuse made by priests to their superiors, being sought by plaintiffs.
The resolution of such issues by a single judge will streamline the litigation process by eliminating conflicting rulings in various courts throughout California, Soltan said.
Some of the same issues are being litigated in criminal courts as prosecutors go head to head with the Catholic Church over access to priests' personnel files.
Both sides are awaiting a ruling by a retired judge over whether the Los Angeles Archdiocese must turn over "secret files" on priests who are charged with molesting children.
In Los Angeles, eight priests and a former seminarian have been criminally charged in the ongoing investigation of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
There are two pending criminal cases against priests in Ventura County,
two in San Bernardino County and one in Orange County.
Bishop Accountability © 2003
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