LOS ANGELES CA – CLINTON HAGENBACH (6/02)
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By Richard Winton
A retired Roman Catholic priest was arrested Tuesday for allegedly sexually abusing two boys at a Pacoima church, bringing to six the number of clerics booked for child molestation in Los Angeles County in recent months.
Father George Michael Miller, 64, was taken into custody at his home in Oxnard. Miller, who retired from the priesthood in 1997, was held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The investigation began in May, when a man reported he had been sexually assaulted by Miller while serving as an altar boy at Guardian Angel Church.
In June, a second man told Los Angeles Police Department detectives that Miller molested him as a child in the 1970s and '80s when he attended the same church.
"We believe there are other victims of George Miller out there and we'd encourage them to contact us immediately," said LAPD Lt. Daniel Mulrenin.
"This is the fifth arrest of a priest by the department this year, and it won't be the last. There are many other cases under investigation."
A sixth priest was arrested in September by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Miller was pastor of Guardian Angel from 1973 to 1984, when he was transferred to Santa Clara Church in Oxnard. Investigators allege that he abused victims in the rectory, at a beach house and at their homes.
Officials for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Miller was forced to retire in 1997 after an allegation that he sexually abused a minor.
Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg said the archdiocese is committed to the healing of victims of sexual abuse by the clergy.
"No priest who has been found to have abused a minor will ever be reassigned to the ministry, period," he said. "We will continue to cooperate with authorities in the investigation of allegations of abuse."
Miller's attorney, Donald Steier, said his client is innocent and lacks the resources to make bail.
Prosecutors said they expect to file charges Wednesday against Miller. He may face as many as 20 counts involving the alleged victims.
Prosecutors have already charged five current or former Los Angeles priests with child molestation.
Former priest Carlos Rodriguez, 37, of Commerce was charged with molesting an altar boy from 1985 to 1987 when he served at St. Vincent de Paul Church.
In September, the Coast Guard plucked retired priest G. Neville Rucker, 82, of Los Angeles from a cruise ship bound for Russia and brought him to Los Angeles, where he is awaiting trial on charges that he molested 10 girls over a 30-year period dating to 1946.
Two more priests were arrested last month in Texas and Illinois at the request of the LAPD.
Matthew Michael Sprouffske, 75, was arrested in Darien, Ill., and has been charged with four felonies. He denied that he molested a female relative during the 1950s while he served as a Los Angeles priest, and is fighting extradition.
John Anthony Salazar was charged last month with sexually assaulting a male student at St. Bernard High School and an altar boy at St. Teresita Church in Los Angeles from 1980 to 1983. He was arrested last week in Amarillo, Texas, and is not fighting extradition.
Former priest Michael Stephen Baker, 54, was arrested by sheriff's deputies Sept. 25 and has pleaded not guilty to 29 counts of child molestation.
Also on Wednesday, a Los Angeles man sued the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, alleging that he was molested from 1969 to 1978 by a now deceased priest, Clinton Hagenbach. The alleged victim, Steven Sanchez, said at a news conference that he had been scarred for life.
The suit, seeking unspecified damages, alleges the church was negligent in its supervision of the priest. Jeffrey Anderson, one of Sanchez's attorneys, alleged that church officials must have known of the molestation.
Both sides said the archdiocese paid a brother of Sanchez $1.5 million
in June after he made similar allegations of molestation against the same
By Jeffrey Anderson
Los Angeles - A complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday charges Clinton Hagenbach, a deceased Los Angeles priest, with repeatedly sexually molesting a minor from 1969 until 1978.
Attorneys for the victim, Steven Sanchez, 46, a financial adviser in Los Angeles, said they have interviewed half a dozen other victims who described similar patterns of sexual abuse by Hagenbach, who died in 1987.
However, plaintiffs' attorney Raymond Boucher said he has no documentation that bishops for the Los Angeles archdiocese were notified of complaints against Hagenbach while he maintained his ministry or that the archdiocese took any action to treat, transfer or protect him from prosecution.
"Obviously, we don't have all the records yet to confirm any treatment or transfers of this priest," Boucher said Tuesday. "But discussions with other lawyers and victims who allege a pattern of molestation tell us that this is a circumstance the church was aware of.
"We believe the case will establish one of the worst cases of sexual molestation in terms of the pattern, nature and extent of abuse."
J. Michael Hennigan of Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman, an attorney for the archdiocese, said, "We are familiar with Steven Sanchez's story but the fact that he has come forward long after the priest has been deceased makes it impossible to evaluate his claim."
Sanchez was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family of active parishioners at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Los Angeles, where Hagenbach was associate pastor from Sept. 24, 1968, through March 7, 1973, the complaint alleges.
Sanchez charges that, beginning in 1969, when he was 13, Hagenbach sexually molested him and told him that it was appropriate activity. According to the complaint, the abuse took place in the rectory and other areas surrounding the church and during evening outings and trips to Lake Arrowhead, Oregon and other places.
Because he was a minor who had great admiration and trust for Hagenbach, Sanchez says in the complaint, he did not report the activity nor realize he was being injured by the sexual contact - which continued several years past his 18th birthday - until he developed emotional distress and psychological coping mechanisms that he recently linked to the abuse.
Hagenbach left Holy Trinity in 1973, the complaint alleges, and became associate pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Artesia. He maintained contact with Sanchez, according to the complaint, and continued to have a sexual relationship with him from 1974 to 1978, when Hagenbach served as associate pastor at St. Theresa of Vail Catholic Church in Los Angeles.
The Roman Catholic archdiocese, which also is named as a defendant in the suit, negotiated a $1.5 million, out-of-court settlement on behalf of Hagenbach in a different case in June, according to an investigative report published in August by the Los Angeles Times. The settlement arose from allegations of molestation while Hagenbach was at Artesia.
Hagenbach was associate pastor at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Los Angeles from 1978 to 1981 and chaplain at Lanterman Hospital in Pomona from 1981 to 1984.
He was a pastor at St. Joseph's Church in Los Angeles from 1984 through November 1987, when he checked in to Nazareth House, where he died Dec. 7, 1987.
Tuesday's filing is the seventh action brought by Boucher against the Los Angeles archdiocese this year. Along with Jeffrey R. Anderson of St. Paul, Minn., he has filed two racketeering lawsuits, a class action and five individual actions.
Boucher said he represents 140 individuals who allege to be victims of clergy sexual abuse. He expects to file lawsuits on behalf of 130 of those alleged victims in January, when a new California law goes into effect that extends the statute of limitations for claims against the church.
The archdiocese has indicated it will go to court to challenge the constitutionality
of that statute.
By Glenn F. Bunting, Ralph Frammolino and Richard Winton
Faced with allegations that parish priests had sexually abused minors, the Los Angeles Archdiocese under Cardinal Roger M. Mahony for many years withheld information from police and allowed clerics facing prosecution to flee to foreign countries, internal records and interviews show.
At the same time, Mahony has been more aggressive than many U.S. bishops in dismissing members of the clergy. According to newly obtained information, the cardinal quietly removed 17 priests from ministry during the last decade who had either admitted or had been credibly accused of molesting minors.
In recent months, as the Roman Catholic Church has struggled to contain the clergy sex abuse scandal, Mahony has taken a stance as an outspoken reformer on a mission to oust all sex offenders from the priesthood.
But an examination of sexual abuse cases during his tenure in Los Angeles since 1985 shows that the archdiocese also worked to keep a growing problem from the eyes of the public and the hands of the law. The Times examination found:
* Five parish priests fled the country and one disappeared after learning of complaints that they had sexually abused underage victims. Two of the clergymen left after a top aide to Mahony informed them of allegations, and a third was told to join the priesthood in the Philippines. Of the six, two are fugitives.
* Police complained in two cases that church officials had hampered criminal investigations by refusing to cooperate. In one inquiry, Long Beach police say, they were turned away from archdiocese headquarters when they asked for help. "The door was shut in our face," said Long Beach Det. Randi Castillo, a 26-year veteran who led an investigation in the mid-1990s of a popular pastor who allegedly had molested at least 10 altar boys. "This was absolutely something I had never encountered in all my years in law enforcement."
* Two convicted sex offenders were allowed to continue serving as priests for years before Mahony dismissed them in February in response to the growing furor over clergy sex abuse. Both priests resided at parishes within walking distance of Catholic elementary schools, where administrators and parents were not informed of their criminal backgrounds.
* The archdiocese has agreed to four out-of-court settlements totaling $9.2 million since 2000. The archdiocese's share of the cost was $3.7 million. The agreements included confidentiality clauses to keep the sexual abuses secret.
* The archdiocese routinely failed to report errant priests to authorities until 1997, when a new California law compelled clergy to disclose all allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Before the legislation was passed, a top aide to Mahony discouraged at least three alleged victims from going to police.
Now, Mahony and the archdiocese are bracing for possible indictments of 15 current and former priests on felony sex charges, according to law enforcement sources. In addition, the archdiocese is facing a class-action suit, filed last month, seeking millions of dollars.
In a series of interviews, Mahony said the archdiocese has worked closely with law enforcement on a wide range of issues over the years and that authorities have long known about nearly all of the sexual abuse cases involving priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. The allegations were often reported to police, Mahony said, by therapists, teachers and victims themselves.
"There was no sort of policy on my part that we would not cooperate with law enforcement," the cardinal said. Because reporting was not mandated until 1997, "this was not an area of responsibility for the church. We always made sure that people knew that they themselves were the ones who should make the report or should contact police. We also have cases, if I might say so, where the police didn't do much about it either."
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley called Mahony's characterization "disingenuous."
"The historic culture of the archdiocese in cooperating with local law enforcement has been inadequate and flawed," Cooley said. "Morally, the archdiocese should have been the first to step forward on behalf of victims and actively cooperate with law enforcement regarding known instances of clerical sexual abuse."
34 Alleged Abusers Have Been Identified
Based on a review of internal archdiocese records, police reports and lawsuits, The Times identified 33 parish priests and one deacon who, since Mahony's arrival in 1985, have been accused of molesting minors. Seven of the clerics were dismissed by the cardinal in February after clergy sex abuse drew increased attention as a national scandal. Six fled, three have been convicted of sex crimes and 17 are under criminal investigation by law enforcement officials. One priest committed suicide after charges of sexual abuse were dismissed. The Times examination also included more than 100 interviews with church officials, law enforcement authorities, alleged victims and their attorneys.
Mahony, 66, sat down three times in recent weeks for a total of nearly five hours to discuss his actions in the clergy sex crisis as leader of 5 million Catholics in the nation's largest archdiocese. Two lawyers and Mahony's spokesman were also present. Partners from Sitrick & Co., the public relations firm recently hired to assist the archdiocese, also provided information for this article.
As archbishop, Mahony oversees about 1,100 priests and 287 parishes in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The cardinal said he hopes to put the scandal behind the archdiocese and is eagerly awaiting next month's opening of the $200-million Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.
"I want the truth out. I want this thing dealt with," Mahony said. "But I also want people to know we haven't been just sitting around, either, for 15 years. We've learned a lot the hard way... What I'm trying to do is learn from all of my mistakes and try to make sure this never happens again."
Mahony said the handling of molester priests has evolved over the years as church leaders acquired a greater understanding of how to deal with the problem. He said that all priests in the archdiocese found to have molested minors during the last decade were either dismissed or suspended from their ministerial duties. His staff now takes immediate action, including informing law enforcement, when it learns of sexual abuse allegations, he said.
"Looking back at it, sure, knowing what we know today, we would have picked up the phone and called [police] on every single case that ever came along, just to double-check," Mahony said. "We didn't do that, but [we weren't] trying to hide anything."
The cardinal has refused to disclose the names of priests he removed from ministry, citing privacy concerns. Of the 17 who were dismissed over the past decade, only one was kicked out of the priesthood, and another has applied to be laicized, a formal termination process that requires the pope's approval. In all of the cases, Mahony took away the priests' authority to wear clerical garb and administer the sacraments, including the right to say Mass in public or hear confession, archdiocese officials said. Most of the priests are living on their own or with family members; some continue to receive monthly stipends and other benefits, the officials added.
When asked about his involvement in responding to specific cases of sexual misconduct, Mahony said he was often uninformed and preoccupied with other issues. In the interviews, he said he had been stunned to learn of a number of critical decisions by top aides who reported directly to him.
For example, Mahony said he had no knowledge of complaints by Long Beach detectives that the archdiocese had blocked police efforts in 1994 and 1995 to investigate reports that Father Theodore Llanos had sodomized young altar boys. The cardinal said he did not learn of the concerns until The Times recently submitted questions in writing to him.
"I was appalled, to be honest with you," he said.
Yet the police complaints were familiar to Mahony's advisors and parishioners in communities where Llanos served. They were reported in the Long Beach Press-Telegram and prompted a Dec. 7, 1994, three-page letter to the newspaper by Father Gregory Coiro, Mahony's spokesman at the time. Coiro wrote that the archdiocese had launched its own investigation, offered counseling to victims and advised them to report accusations to police.
The archdiocese for years elected not to report allegations of sexual abuse against priests because victims frequently were reluctant to go to police, Mahony said. Lawyers for the archdiocese also took the position that members of the clergy were not required by law to disclose accusations by adults who came forward to report sexual abuse that had occurred when they were minors. These people, the lawyers said, had been informed that they could report allegations to police on their own.
That practice changed earlier this year as the clergy sex scandal boiled over. Mahony said he ordered his top aides to turn over to police the names of all priests suspected earlier of engaging in sex crimes.
In one of a series of confidential e-mails leaked to the media, Mahony wrote on March 27: "If we don't, today, 'consult' with the [LAPD] about those three names, I can guarantee you that I will get hauled into a grand jury proceeding, and I will be forced to give all the names, etc... If we don't take immediate, aggressive action here--the consequences for the [archdiocese] are going to be incredible: charges of cover-up, concealing criminals, etc., etc."
Dioceses throughout the country have received no specific guidelines from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on what kinds of information should be reported to authorities.
"We just assumed that, if it was a question of a crime, the stance of the church was not to back away or cover up, but to cooperate," said Bishop John F. Kinney, of St. Cloud, Minn., chairman of an ad hoc committee on sexual abuse from 1993 to 2000. Mahony also served on the panel.
Some Priests Flee Abroad
Since Mahony became archbishop, at least five priests who faced accusations of sexually abusing minors have fled to foreign countries.
One of the fugitives, Father Tilak Jayawardene, allegedly molested a 17-year-old boy on four occasions, beginning in October 1990, at the rectory of Incarnation Church in Glendale. The teenager, who planned to enroll in a Catholic seminary, reported the alleged abuse about a month later to a teacher. He also met with then-Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, the vicar for clergy from 1986 to 1990 who supervised all priests in the archdiocese and reported directly to Mahony.
On Dec. 4, 1990, Curry informed Jayawardene of the allegation, told him he was no longer welcome in the archdiocese and urged him to go home to Sri Lanka, law enforcement and archdiocese sources said.
"I do understand that you will be returning as soon as possible to Sri Lanka, and I wish you well for the future," Curry wrote Jayawardene the next day on archdiocese stationery.
An attorney for the archdiocese, J. Michael Hennigan, said authorities were not notified because the teenager "emphasized very strongly that he did not want either the police or his mother told."
Said Glendale Police Sgt. Kim Lardie: "That the church would have him leave before contacting the Police Department ... greatly upsets us."
On Dec. 13--several days after Jayawardene departed--the teenager walked into the Glendale police station and reported the alleged crime, Lardie said. Prosecutors are still trying to extradite Jayawardene, 58, who was charged in 1991 with six counts of committing oral copulation on a minor.
Mahony said he had no involvement in urging Jayawardene to leave. "I wasn't, to my recollection, consulted or knew anything about it," he said.
Curry, whom Mahony has since promoted to bishop of Santa Barbara, referred questions to his attorney, Brian Hennigan, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in white-collar criminal defense work at the law firm of Irell & Manella and is not related to J. Michael Hennigan. Although he declined to discuss specific cases, Brian Hennigan insisted that Curry had never acted on sensitive matters involving priests without Mahony's input.
"Decisions were not made in the dark, and there weren't things that Cardinal Mahony found out about after the fact," Brian Hennigan said. "There was an ongoing dialogue when problems arose."
Curry also played a key role in the handling of other priests who disappeared while facing accusations of sexual abuse, documents show.
In 1988, he met with Father Nicolas Aguilar Rivera regarding allegations that the priest had molested altar boys in two parishes. During the meeting, Aguilar told Curry that he planned to leave the country soon, according to archdiocese sources. By the time a school principal reported the case to police two days later, Aguilar had fled to Mexico City. Aguilar, 60, was subsequently charged with 19 felony counts of committing lewd acts on a child and is still being sought by U.S. authorities.
Curry also sent letters urging Father Santiago Tamayo to stay in the Philippines after he fled rather than face allegations of having had sex with an underage girl. In a lawsuit, the girl accused Tamayo of inducing her to have sex with six other priests in a period of four years, until 1982, when she became pregnant.
"It is not advisable that you return at all to the United States," Curry wrote Tamayo on Dec. 28, 1987. Lawsuits "can only open old wounds and further hurt anyone concerned, including the archdiocese."
Curry wrote again on Aug. 26, 1988: "I was surprised to learn ... that you are in the Los Angeles area. I am requesting that you return to the Philippines promptly."
The letter, which was copied to Mahony, also explained that the archdiocese would continue to provide a monthly stipend to Tamayo. The priest returned to Los Angeles in 1991 to issue a public apology to his victim. He died in 1996.
Curry, in a brief interview in Santa Barbara before he retained an attorney, said: "I don't know that I was asking him to hide out. I'm telling him that it wasn't a good thing for him to be here, given all the damage that he had caused."
Mahony said he "never became informed about the Tamayo case fully. In fact, I still don't know much about it. All I know is, we don't want anyone coming to this archdiocese who's got a problem. We want 'em out of here."
The cardinal said he has no authority over a parish priest visiting from another country or religious order, such as Jayawardene and Aguilar, once the cleric is removed from service in the archdiocese. "All he has to do is get in a taxi and head right for LAX, and he's out of here," Mahony said. "That's part of the difficulty with those guys, and makes it very difficult for us to manage them."
Mahony has written numerous letters to Rome and bishops in foreign countries, raising concerns about the status of priests who fled. He said the archdiocese now cooperates with authorities to confiscate the passport of any visiting priest suspected of sexual abuse.
Yet two parish priests convicted of sex crimes in the 1980s were allowed to continue serving in the ministry for more than a decade. Parishioners and parents were not told about the criminal histories of Father John Wishard and Father Gerald B. Fessard, according to interviews and archdiocese officials.
"Back then, it was the feeling of the archdiocese that the convictions were simply one more factor in the whole process," said one archdiocese source.
Fessard, 56, pleaded no contest in 1987 to separate counts of soliciting lewd acts in a public place and battery on a minor. He received three years' probation. Archdiocese records show that, after his conviction, Fessard resided from 1991 to 1994 at St. Luke Church in Temple City, adjacent to a Catholic elementary school.
Wishard was charged in 1980 with oral copulation on a minor, pleaded no contest and was sentenced to five years' probation. He was ordered to get psychiatric treatment and prohibited from being in the presence of minors without a supervising adult. A judge terminated Wishard's probation in 1982, the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor in 1991 and it was later dismissed. He was assigned to parishes with elementary schools nearby in 1987-89 at St. Genevieve in Panorama City and in 1993-97 at St. Mary of the Assumption in Santa Maria, according to archdiocese records.
St. Mary's principal, Carmen Vadillo, said she had been shocked to learn that Wishard had been arrested for sexual abuse. "I'm sick to my stomach," said Vadillo, who was a teacher at St. Mary when Wishard was a senior priest. "I could go my whole life without hearing this."
Wishard and Fessard were among the seven priests removed by Mahony in February. The cardinal said he regretted that he had not dismissed all of the priests a decade ago.
Mahony emerged in recent meetings with Pope John Paul II in Rome and U.S. bishops in Dallas as a forceful advocate of changes in the church's policies on sexual abuse. The cardinal frequently appeared on television and at news conferences to promote strict policies requiring the immediate removal of all sex offenders from ministry.
Mahony said much of the language contained in a "zero tolerance" policy approved by U.S. bishops in June is based on programs that he implemented over the years in Los Angeles. Moreover, he vowed in Dallas that any bishop who covered up such misconduct by reassigning priests should find it "impossible to remain in office."
Mahony deserves credit for taking "pioneering steps" in 1992 when he began removing priests from ministry who were credibly accused of molesting minors, said Mark Chopko, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "He has been very much upfront and public about dealing openly and effectively with sexual misconduct issues," Chopko said.
In 1992, he recalled, Mahony was the only bishop willing to initiate a dialogue with victims of sexual abuse who were protesting at an annual bishops conference in Washington.
After listening to the victims, Mahony told fellow bishops that the session had been "one of the most moving experiences I have ever known." He said that the Catholic Church must "show herself as a loving, caring and healing church and not as a legal obstacle protecting errant priests at all costs."
But some alleged victims contend that Mahony has offered them little more than lip service over the years.
"How he looks at himself in the morning is beyond me," said Lee Bashforth, who, with his brother, is suing over allegations that they were sexually abused by a Los Angeles Archdiocese priest. "There's not an ounce of genuine remorse for myself, my brother and scores of other victims."
Mahony has succeeded in cultivating a public image as a reformer, but his "level of deceit parallels that of Cardinal [Bernard] Law," said Jeffrey R. Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who has represented more than 400 victims of clergy sexual abuse nationwide and filed the class-action suit against the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
Mahony said comparisons with Law are unfair. He said the practice in Boston of reassigning priests who had previously received treatment and offended again had not occurred on his watch in Los Angeles.
The cardinal said that the sex abuse scandal has taken a heavy toll on him personally.
"I don't sleep at night because of it. I don't go two, three minutes a day when this [isn't] in my mind," he said. "It's dreadful."
Mahony Has Faced Issue for Two Decades
For nearly all of his more than two decades as a bishop, first in Stockton and then in Los Angeles, Mahony has been forced to deal with cases of sexual abuse by priests.
As bishop of Stockton, he inherited the case of Father Oliver O'Grady, a parish priest who had admitted years earlier to molesting an 11-year-old girl. In 1984, O'Grady told a therapist that he had sexual urges toward a young boy. Mahony sent O'Grady for evaluation to a local psychiatrist, John C. Morris, who said the priest had a "severe defect in maturation" and suggested that "perhaps Oliver is not truly called to the priesthood."
Mahony promoted O'Grady to serve as pastor of a rural parish, where he molested three victims, including a baby girl who suffered vaginal scarring. O'Grady was later convicted of 21 counts of felony sexual abuse and served seven years in prison before returning to his native Ireland. A jury in 1998 awarded two O'Grady victims a record $30-million judgment, which later was reduced to $7 million.
Jurors said in interviews that they had found Mahony untruthful in his testimony and held him responsible for allowing O'Grady's pattern of abuse to continue.
"He didn't act soon enough or strong enough," said juror Laura Utterback of Stockton. "He didn't remove the problem. He just kept hiding it."
Until now, Mahony has not commented publicly on the case. "I felt the jury was wrong," he said. "I was flabbergasted that we were held accountable, because I thought we took extraordinary steps to make sure there was no problem." The precautions included sending O'Grady to therapy and ordering a second psychiatric evaluation, the one performed by Morris.
Shortly after Mahony moved to Los Angeles in 1985, he said, he discovered that his predecessor, Cardinal Timothy Manning, had no written guidelines on how to handle reported molestation cases. Mahony said he directed his staff to begin drafting policies.
The first guidelines, adopted in June 1989, called for the archdiocese to have a priest who faced credible allegations undergo psychiatric evaluation and to rely on therapists to help determine future assignments.
Mahony said this approach changed in 1992 after the arrest of Father Richard Allen Henry, a parish priest who was later sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually abusing four boys from the same family.
Records show that the archdiocese posted Henry's $30,000 bail, paid for his therapy and declined to announce the reason for his departure from Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Paramount. At the sentencing hearing, a top Mahony aide asked the judge to free Henry on probation.
Still, Mahony said, the Henry case persuaded him that the archdiocese could no longer rely on psychiatric treatment to rehabilitate priests who sexually exploited children. "It was very clear from '92 on, there was only one course of action and that was, these guys had to go," he said.
In 1992, according to Mahony, he implemented two sweeping reforms: a zero-tolerance policy that removed from ministry any priest found by the archdiocese to have abused a minor, and the creation of an advisory panel to review cases of sexual misconduct and make private recommendations to the cardinal.
Copies of the sexual abuse policy, however, show that no changes in language were made in 1992. Revisions were made in 1994, 1996 and 1997, but they made no mention of removing clerics from the priesthood if they were found guilty of molesting minors. Instead, these policies specifically permitted Mahony, on the basis of "advice from experts in the field," to return to ministry priests who had sexually abused minors.
Nonetheless, Mahony followed through on his initial commitment in 1992 to begin removing priests who were credibly accused of molesting minors, attorneys for the archdiocese said. Some of these cases involved older priests who were forced to retire. They include an 81-year-old monsignor who suffered a heart attack and is disabled, a 74-year-old parish priest who was institutionalized in 1997 and a 62-year-old cleric who never returned after being sent out of state for treatment.
It was not until February of this year that language requiring the removal of any priest found to have molested a minor was added to archdiocese policy. Mahony was forced to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy as part of a $5.2-million settlement that the archdiocese and the Diocese of Orange negotiated last year with one abuse victim, Ryan DiMaria. This agreement led Mahony to remove the seven priests in February who had been accused of sexual abuse before 1992.
Mahony said that he began thinking last summer about the need to take action against the seven.
"I really need to be able to stand on the pulpit and look at the people of this archdiocese and say, 'I can assure you as humanly as possible, there is no priest out there who has abused a minor,' " he said. "I said I can't do that, but I'm going to do it and we're going to make this change. So we bit the bullet."
Critics charge that Mahony is reinventing history.
"I've never heard of any significant policies, procedures or statements made by Roger Mahony until most recently when he tried to ... create some sort of illusion that he is or was some great innovator in the area, which he is not," said Father Thomas Doyle, a former canon lawyer who co-wrote a confidential 1985 church report on sexual abuse that warned U.S. bishops of a looming crisis.
Mahony acknowledged that he had concluded only recently that priests who exploit children no longer deserve the title "father."
His greatest regret, Mahony said, is waiting until earlier this year to remove from ministry every priest who had engaged in a single act of sexual abuse of a minor, even if it occurred decades ago.
"If we're going to have the church safe for children and young people, [the policy] has to be absolutely tight and foolproof as possible," he said. "There is no room for exceptions."
What the Scandal Means to Mahony
'The overwhelming devastation of individuals and families--I've become much more aware of that in the last few years. The expression "sexual abuse of minors" simply does not describe the appalling, monstrous things that have happened to these young people. I'm just horrified at this whole thing. And so, one case for me is too many.'
'The outreach to the victims only becomes complicated when you've got victims suing the archdiocese. That makes it very difficult for the pastor and the victim to meet, because then everything is subject to depositions. Even if you pray with them, that is a complication.'
'The healing ... is not going to happen until the last cancer cell is out of the body. If priests are indicted and some end up in prison or whatever, that's going to be very sad for them, for the church. But if that is required to move beyond, that's what we're going to have to go through ....'
'I never wanted to be a bishop. I love being a priest, and I have found with victims the opportunity to be Father Mahony....[They] don't teach this in the seminary, how to deal with sex abusers. So, the opportunity to begin again to work with people pastorally is my greatest joy.'
'The personal burden of this has been great. It's running in the background of my mind all the time....You get the
cross that comes your way, and this obviously for
me is a very heavy cross. But in the midst of all of that, I have to keep
looking beyond it, and what I see is my determination that our church is safe for children and young people and everybody, and victims are cared for.'
A Range of Opinions About Mahony's Response
'The historic culture of the archdiocese in cooperating with local law
enforcement has been inadequate... Morally, the archdiocese should have
been the first to step forward on behalf of victims....'
'The Los Angeles Archdiocese was way ahead in the late 1980s, when Mahony
started making major changes.'
'He claims he cares about victims. I think the greatest disappointment
is his nonresponsiveness.'
'Clearly, the guy calling the signals was Mahony. He and his attorneys
set up this policy of cover-up and denial.'
'He's supposed to be the shepherd of the Catholic Church in L.A., andhe
has a pedophile on staff. It's incredible.'
'He has been very much a leader and a pioneer' in dealing with sexual
The Los Angeles Archdiocese has negotiated $9.2 million in major out-of-court settlements in recent years with victims who said they were sexually abused by four priests.
Father Clinton Hagenbach -- $1.5 million
Monsignor Michael Harris -- $5.2 million*
Father John Lenihan -- $1.2 million
Father Michael S. Baker -- $1.3 million*
*Cost shared with Diocese of Orange
Note: Amounts do not reflect cost to archdiocese after insurance coverage.
Source: L.A. Archdiocese, court records and Times research
Mahony's Inner Circle
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony has relied on these trusted aides to help the Los Angeles Archdiocese manage cases of sexual abuse by priests since 1985. Each served as vicar for clergy, the administrator who oversees 1,100 priests.
Monsignor Richard A. Loomis, 56, ordained in 1976. Vicar for clergy from 1996 to 2000. He is now secretariat director for administrative services. Declined to be interviewed.
Monsignor Timothy J. Dyer, 54, ordained in 1974. Vicar for clergy from 1991 to 1995. Quote: ''We're all struggling to understand what has happened and why."
Bishop Thomas J. Curry, 59, ordained in 1967. Vicar for clergy from 1986 to 1990. Appointed by Mahony in 1994 to be bishop of Santa Barbara. Quote: ''Our main concern was to respond to victims, get them help, to get the priests help, too."
Sex Abuse Allegations Against Los Angeles Archdiocese Priests
The archdiocese has not made the names of accused priests public, but a review of lawsuits, police reports and internal archdiocese records found at least 33 priests and one deacon accused of sexual abuse since Roger M. Mahony became archbishop in 1985.
Priests Removed This Year
Gerald B. Fessard, 56, pleaded no contest in 1987 to misdemeanors of soliciting lewd acts and battery and received 36 months' probation. Subsequently resided at St. Timothy Church in Los Angeles and St. Luke Church in Temple City. Could not be reached for comment.
Roderic Guerrini, 70, former pastor at St. Mark Church in Venice. LAPD investigating 1992 claims that he engaged in sexual misconduct with two teenage girls in the late 1970s. Living at Los Angeles church retirement home. Denies allegations.
James F. O'Grady, retired in Ireland. Former pastor at St. Anthony Church in El Segundo. LAPD investigating 1997 claim that he molested altar girl years earlier. Incident previously reported to El Segundo police. Could not be reached.
G. Neville Rucker, 81, retired in 1987 as pastor at Corpus Christi Church in Pacific Palisades. Forced to move out of rectory in April. LAPD investigating claims that he molested two girls at St. Anthony Church in El Segundo in 1960s and four girls at St. Agatha Church in Los Angeles in early 1970s. Had no comment.
Carl Sutphin, 70, retired as associate pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral. LAPD and Ventura County sheriffs investigating claims that he sexually abused two pairs of brothers in 1960s and 1970s. Could not be reached for comment.
Michael Wempe, 62, retired. LAPD and Ventura County sheriffs investigating claims that he molested three boys between 1976 and 1985 while serving at St. Jude Church in Westlake Village, Sacred Heart Church in Ventura County and St. Mary Church in Palmdale. Could not be reached for comment.
John Wishard, 70, retired in 1997. Charged in 1980 with felony oral copulation involving a boy and pleaded no contest. Sentenced to probation. Conviction later dismissed. In 1987, returned to active ministry at St. Genevieve Church in Panorama City and later in Santa Maria. Could not be reached.
Priests Who Fled
Lynn Caffoe, 56, out of ministry. Left in 1994 after a high school student reported allegation of molestation at St. James Church in Redondo Beach to a counselor at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance. Whereabouts unknown.
Tilak Jayawardene, 58, returned to Sri Lanka in 1990. Left post as associate
pastor at Glendale's Incarnation Church after learning of abuse allegations
by a teenage boy. Charged in 1991 with six counts of oral copulation.
Prosecutors seeking extradition.
Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, 60, went to Mexico City after learning of allegations that he sexually abused altar boys at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in El Sereno and St. Agatha Church in Los Angeles. Charges dismissed in Mexico in 1995. LAPD still investigating.
Arulappan Savrianandam, 56, returned to India. At St. Paul of the Cross Church in La Mirada was accused in 1996 by a teenage girl of sexual touching. Left after being sent to a retreat house by the archdiocese.
Santiago Tamayo, died in 1996. Accused in a lawsuit of having sex with an underage girl in the 1970s and '80s while at St. Philomena Church in Carson. Later apologized to victim. After he fled to his native Philippines, the L.A. Archdiocese in 1980s urged him to stay and become a priest there.
Richard Allen Henry, 49, sentenced to eight years in prison in 1993 after pleading no contest to committing sex acts on four children from one family at Holy Redeemer Church in Montrose. Registered sex offender. Now living on East Coast.
John Anthony Salazar, 53, sentenced to six years in prison in 1988 after pleading guilty to molesting two boys, ages 13 and 14, in his living quarters at St. Lucy Church in East Los Angeles. Registered sex offender.
Deacon Arturo Ahumada, 46, sentenced to a year in County Jail in June for providing pornographic material to two boys and committing sexual battery on another while serving at Epiphany Church in South El Monte.
Theodore Llanos, committed suicide in 1997. Charged in 1995 on 38 counts of sexual abuse of minors while serving at St. Barnabas Church in Long Beach and other parishes. A judge dismissed all charges in 1996 because statute of limitations had expired.
Other Priests Under Investigation
Michael S. Baker, 54, resigned in 2000. Admitted molesting two boys to Cardinal Mahony in 1986. Reassigned to several parishes until archdiocese agreed to $1.3-million settlement with two brothers in 2000. Los Angeles County sheriff investigating. Had no comment.
Matthias Berumen, 41, out of ministry. A 25-year-old adult male said he was abused from 1985 to 1988 while Berumen served at St. Martha Church in Valinda. Los Angeles district attorney examining files. Could not be reached.
Honesto Bismonte, 72, on leave pending charges filed in April on four counts of lewd conduct with two teenage girls in Fontana between 1997 and 2001 while at St. Joseph Church in Pomona. Pleaded not guilty.
Patrick Cotter, 70, retired. L.A. County sheriff investigating claims that he molested a teenage girl about a decade ago while serving at St. Joseph Church in Pomona. Could not be reached.
John Dawson, 61, out of ministry. LAPD investigating claims that he molested three boys in the 1970s and 1980s while serving at Our Lady of Refuge Church in Long Beach and St. Sebastian Church in Los Angeles. Removed after allegation in 1992 of sexually abusing a boy in 1970s. Could not be reached.
Walter Fernando, 58, on inactive leave from Assumption Church in Pasadena. LAPD investigating claim that he fondled a teenage girl in the 1980s while serving at St. Hilary Church in Pico Rivera. Denies allegations.
David Granadino, 46, on inactive leave as pastor at St. Francis of Rome Church in Azusa. L.A. County sheriff investigating claim that he molested a teenage boy in the 1980s in Norwalk. Denies allegations.
Stephen Hernandez, 68, on inactive leave. LAPD investigating claim that he repeatedly fondled a teenage boy from 1998 to 2002 at county Central Juvenile Hall. Denies allegations.
Philip Kavanaugh, 56, on inactive leave as pastor of Precious Blood Church in Los Angeles. LAPD investigating claims that he molested a teenager in 1973 while serving at Cathedral Chapel in Los Angeles. Could not be reached.
Christopher Kearney, 59, at left, is on inactive leave. L.A. County sheriff investigating claims that he molested several boys during impromptu wrestling matches between 1970 and 1995 at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge. Could not be reached.
George Miller, 64, retired. LAPD investigating claims that he molested boys during the 1970s and 1980s while serving at Guardian Angel Church in Pacoima. Denies allegations.
Joseph Pina, 56, at left. L.A. County sheriff investigating claims that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s while serving at a Los Angeles parish. Could not be reached.
Dominic Savino, 63, on inactive leave. Removed as president of Encino's Crespi Catholic boys school. LAPD is investigating claims that he molested minors in the 1970s and 1980s. Could not be reached.
John Santillan, 63, now in Bolivia. LAPD investigating claim that he sexually abused an altar boy in the 1970s while serving at Santa Teresita Church in Los Angeles. Denies allegations.
Fidencio Silva, 54. Oxnard police investigating claim he sexually abused eight boys from 1979-85 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Alleged victims suing Silva and archdiocese. Now in Mexico. Denies allegations.
Carl Tresler, 37. Authorities investigating claim that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old boy in 1998 while serving at Resurrection Church in Los Angeles. Removed from ministry in Los Angeles. Now serving as a priest in Peru. Could not be reached for comment.
Monsignor Christian Van Liefde, 53, on inactive leave as pastor of St. Genevieve Church in Panorama City. LAPD investigating claim that he sexually abused a minor in 1974. Could not be reached.
Times researchers Nona Yates and Cecilia Barrera also contributed to
Bishop Accountability © 2003
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