| STOCKTON CA –
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By Don Lattin
In a case involving an alleged coverup by one of the nation's highest-ranking Catholic leaders, a Stockton jury awarded two brothers $30 million in damages yesterday for enduring years of sexual abuse by a priest.
The award is the largest molestation verdict ever reached against the church in California, and it is also the biggest nationwide in terms of the amount given to each individual victim.
Attorneys for Joh and James Howard, now ages 19 and 23, argued that church leaders, including Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, ignored documented evidence that the Rev. Oliver O'Grady was a dangerous child molester.
[Photo Caption - Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony is accused of ignoring complaints.]
Attorneys for the Howards said three bishops -- including Mahony -- covered up for O'Grady because they knew about his activities yet did not do enough to prevent further incidents. Mahony served as the bishop of the Diocese of Stockton from 1980 to 1985, when he was elevated to head the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese.
Among the evidence at the civil trial was a 1976 letter in which O'Grady admitted molesting an 11-year-old girl and a 1984 police report in which a church attorney promised to keep the priest away from children.
They did not, and in 1993, O'Grady pleaded guilty to four counts of lewd and lascivious acts in a case involving the Howard brothers. O'Grady was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Attorney Jeff Anderson said the Howard brothers were repeatedly molested between 1978 and 1991, from age 3 to 13.
"Three bishops have known about this guy and continued letting him serve in parishes," Anderson said. "For two decades, they have been telling lies and operating above the law."
In an interview after yesterday's verdict, James Howard said he felt like "the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders."
"I've been through many years of depression," he said. "This has affected my relationships with women, my relationships with my loved ones and my relationship with God."
Howard, who lives in Berkeley and works in San Francisco as a structural engineer, said he will dedicate his life to raising social awareness about priestly child abuse, "so this doesn't happen to other children."
According to Howard, O'Grady was "the family priest" and molested four of his seven brothers and sisters. But because of problems with the statute of limitations, legal action could only be taken against the priest for molesting him and his younger brother, Joh.
In a prepared statement after the verdict, Stockton Bishop Donald Montrose asked for the Howard family's "forgiveness for this horrible evil that was inflicted on them."
"We did not understand the depth of the problem," said Montrose, whose diocese includes Alpine, Calaveras, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.
"We are disappointed with the jury's decision to punish the diocese in a way which will effectively destroy virtually all of the services provided by the diocese to its people and the community," he said.
Montrose's statement did not address whether the diocese is considering an appeal, and church officials would make no further comment.
Yesterday's verdict -- $6 million in compensatory damages and $24 million in punitive damages -- is the latest in series of devastating financial and moral setbacks for the Roman Catholic Church in United States and Europe. Some dioceses are near bankruptcy because of huge molestation awards by angry juries.
Last year, a Texas jury hit the Diocese of Dallas with a $120 million verdict in a case involving a priest and nine former altar boys. Last week, the diocese agreed to an actual payment of $23 million, which the victims accepted for fear the diocese would otherwise file for bankruptcy.
Two years ago, 15 men sexually molested by three Bay Area priests agreed to a $2.5 million settlement of a lawsuit against Catholic church leaders in San Francisco and Santa Rosa.
David Clohessy, a leader with SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the Stockton case was different. "In all the cases I've seen, there has never been such a clear, documented history of coverup by a diocese."
"For 10 or 15 years, the bishops have been saying, Now we understand. Now we're better.' But this case is not ancient history," Clohessy said. "This abuse continued until 1993 and shows that the bishops have not learned how to handle this and have not changed their ways."
Last month, Cardinal Mahony spent four hours on the witness stand in Stockton and testified that he sent O'Grady to a psychiatrist after the 1984 police investigation into possible molestation.
Howard's attorney submitted that psychiatrist's report as evidence. "Father O'Grady reveals a severe defect in maturation, not only in the matter of sex, but more importantly in the matter of social relationships," it stated. "Perhaps Oliver is not truly called to the priesthood."
Nevertheless, O'Grady was appointed pastor of St. Andrew's Parish in San Andreas and then associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Turlock, where the molestations continued.
Three days after testifying in the Stockton case, Mahony underwent surgery
for prostate cancer. According to a spokesman, the cardinal is still recovering
and had no comment on yesterday's verdict.
The Catholic Diocese of Stockton was ordered Thursday to pay $30 million to two brothers molested by a parish priest who had a history of abusing children.
A civil jury awarded $ 24 million in punitive damages and $ 6 million in compensatory damages to Joh and James Howard, who claimed that the diocese and its leadership knew about the Rev. Oliver Francis O'Grady's actions and did nothing.
"This says to me that people out there understand. People grasped what level of impact this has taken on my family," Joh Howard said. "I feel so relieved and so vindicated."
The ruling comes less than a week after the Catholic Diocese of Dallas agreed to pay $ 23.4 million to nine former altar boys.
"We stand on the shoulders of what has happened before," said Jeff Anderson, an attorney for the Howards.
David Clohessy, head of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the award is the largest per plaintiff in a case involving a religious institution.
"It's an incredibly powerful statement . . . that says the abuse of kids has to stop and that puts the blame squarely where it belongs, on the hierarchy of the church," Clohessy said.
The civil trial began in June against O'Grady, who was convicted in 1994 of molesting Joh, now 19, and James, 23. He is serving a 14-year prison term.
O'Grady and his supervisor, the Rev. Cornelius DeGroot, signed two letters in 1976 apologizing to the parents of an 11-year-old girl after O'Grady allegedly touched her inappropriately, the Howards' attorney, Laurence Drivon, said.
In a deposition, O'Grady testified that former Stockton Bishop Merlin Guilfoyle didn't order him to seek counseling after the 1976 incident and seemed angry that he had apologized.
When police began their investigation in 1984, O'Grady was receiving counseling, church officials said. According to a police report, the diocese told authorities that O'Grady would be transferred and would only be working with adults.
In 1985, O'Grady was appointed pastor of St. Andrew's Parish in San Andreas.
A year later, the diocese appointed him associate pastor of Sacred Heart
Church in Turlock, where he reportedly met the Howards.
By Steve Lopez
The case involved two Stockton-area brothers who had been abused by a priest from the time they were toddlers until they were in their late teens, both before and after the Stockton diocese had received complaints against the priest.
A jury was so disturbed by the drama that unfolded in San Joaquin County Superior Court, it awarded $30 million in damages to the brothers, an amount later negotiated to $7 million. Mahony was not a defendant in the case, but he was the bishop of Stockton during a critical period addressed in the lawsuit. He had ordered an evaluation after the priest himself admitted he was a molester, then reassigned him to another parish, where he abused victims for years to come.
"Mahony is the Teflon cardinal," says Jeff Anderson, who represented the victims and was amazed that Mahony's reputation in Los Angeles was scarcely tainted by the Stockton verdict, which at the time was the largest-ever per-person settlement in such a case.
One witness at that trial, Nancy Sloan of Fairfield in Solano County, says that to this day, she doesn't know how Mahony can sleep at night
"I'm absolutely convinced Mahony knew all about the priest," says Sloan, now 37, who was abused by the same priest years before he abused the two brothers and many others.
Mahony, who insisted at trial that he was unaware of all the allegations against the priest, did not answer my request for an interview on the subject. But a review of the transcripts, which seemed prudent in light of the growing church scandal in Los Angeles and other cities, reveals a staggeringly familiar pattern: A priest who was a known molester kept getting shuffled from one parish to another, claiming more victims along the way.
In this case, the priest was Father Oliver O'Grady. Nancy Sloan says that in 1976, when she was 11, Father O'Grady molested her. Father O'Grady wrote a letter of apology to her parents, who met with church officials. Sloan deeply regrets that her parents didn't notify the police, and, of course, the diocese didn't call the authorities, either.
"My parents went to the bishop [one of Mahony's predecessors], because they trusted him to do what was right," Sloan says. What was "right," by diocesan standards, was to pay for Sloan's therapy, file the incident away, and leave it at that.
Four years later, when Mahony was bishop, an entirely unrelated case came before him. He became aware of an "improper relationship" between Father O'Grady and the mother of the brothers who would later be the subjects of the $30-million verdict. Mahony claimed he was unaware of a report that O'Grady was seen alone with one of the brothers, who was then 2. But he told O'Grady not to see the woman again, and later transferred him.
Now we come to 1984, when O'Grady himself confessed that he was a molester. According to the police report, the priest told a county medical practitioner "he had contact of a sexual nature approximately two weeks ago and other past behaviors of a similar nature." O'Grady also told the medical practitioner that he had touched the penis of one of the brothers, then 9, while the boy slept. Police began a child-abuse investigation that ended when the boy could not confirm the abuse.
The police report says the diocesan attorney assured police they "interviewed the suspect and feel the incident only occurred once and is an isolated incident. The suspect will be sent to counseling through the church."
Less than one month later, Mahony transferred O'Grady again, this time to a church in San Andreas. In a letter dated Dec. 10, 1984, Mahony said, "I commit you to the full care of souls in that parish with all faculties, duties, rights, and privileges.... "
For the next several years, O'Grady continued to molest his 1984 victim and as many as 10 others, according to attorney Anderson. Finally, in 1993, after being molested for years, a 19-year-old victim went to the police. Father O'Grady was criminally convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
At the civil trial that followed, Mahony took the witness stand and denied any knowledge of the 1976 molestation of Nancy Sloan, denied knowing about the 1982 report of O'Grady being alone with a 2-year-old, denied knowing the full extent of O'Grady's molestation confession in 1984, and denied ordering his attorney to tell Stockton police there was only one known incident.
"When I was informed," Mahony testified regarding the 1984 incident, "I was not informed that this priest had admitted to molesting a child. That was not the information I was given. I was operating under the assumption that an allegation had been made, been thoroughly investigated, and dismissed."
Plaintiffs' attorneys tried to chip away at Mahony, expressing disbelief that the bishop of a small diocese of fewer than 100 priests would be unfamiliar with the entire file on a priest who had admitted molesting an 11-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. They asked how it was possible that a bishop could not know every detail of a police investigation that took place on his watch. But Mahony stood his ground, insisting that his underlings often handled such matters for him.
Mahony testified that he ordered a psychiatric evaluation of O'Grady after the 1984 incident, and was satisfied with the results, even though the report said: "Father O'Grady reveals a severe defect in maturation. Not only in the matter of sex, but more importantly in the matter of social relationships, and shows a serious psychological depression."
There were positive recommendations as well, Mahony testified, and he was comfortable that with further counseling, Father O'Grady was fit to continue in ministry.
During a break in his testimony, Mahony spoke to reporters outside the courtroom, telling them he thought the diocese did everything humanly possible to make sure there was no problem with O'Grady before sending him to San Andreas in December of 1984. When court resumed, attorney Anderson repeated the cardinal's statement about doing everything humanly possible, then asked:
"At the time, Cardinal, did you talk to the police?"
"No," Mahony said.
"You could have."
"Well, I'm not sure I could have. But .... "
"What was restraining you?" Anderson asked.
It went on like this for several minutes, Anderson knocking down Mahony's claim that everything humanly possible had been done to prevent future abuse.
Did you send O'Grady to a doctor specializing in sex offense? he asked.
"At the time, I was really unaware that there were such specialists," Mahony said.
Did you check O'Grady's file?
No, Mahony said.
Did you conduct an investigation of your own?
Sending him to a psychiatrist seemed appropriate enough, Mahony answered.
Did you interview witnesses? Anderson asked.
No, Mahony said, but the police did in 1984, "and dismissed the case."
In 1986, after Mahony's move to Los Angeles, Nancy Sloan returned to the Stockton diocese because she was wracked with guilt for not making sure Father O'Grady never got near another child. O'Grady was still at the church Mahony had sent him to, but church officials told Sloan there was nothing to worry about. Sloan, a nurse, weeps as she tells her story.
"If I had any idea whatsoever when I had gone back there in 1986, there are so many children who could have been saved from O'Grady, because I would have blown the story out. And if Mahony says he didn't know anything about O'Grady, my question is, how could you possibly do your job as bishop and not read any of the files on your employees?"
Sloan says she has thought about paying a visit to Mahony.
"I'd like to tell him he has a moral obligation. If any of these bishops and priests would take responsibility instead of pretending they didn't know what was going on, and then making excuses ... ," she says, not finishing the thought, and pausing to compose herself.
"I have so much guilt for not doing more," she says. "I
don't know how Mahony can live with himself when I can barely live with
By Ron Russell
When the now-infamous e-mails between Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his top lieutenants were leaked to a Los Angeles radio station earlier this month, revealing a religious leader obsessively preoccupied with spin control, John Durham was one person who wasn't surprised. "They don't call him Roger the Dodger for nothing," says the Stockton loading-dock supervisor, referring to Mahony's tireless efforts to avoid revealing the names of child-molesting priests he claims to have purged from the Los Angeles Archdiocese. First, someone inside the archdiocese told the press that he had booted six to 12 priests. Mahony next said it was "a few." Then, in the hacked e-mails, he wrote that it was eight. And in recent days, while remaining characteristically fuzzy, he has backpedaled once again, acknowledging that at least 15 sex abuse cases occured in the archdiocese during his watch.Durham is no ordinary Mahony critic. In fact, he is among a handful of people (12 to be precise) who can say they've judged the powerful cleric's utterances regarding sex abuse among Catholic clergy up close and under oath, and found them extremely wanting. As a juror in a 1998 civil trial in which the Stockton diocese -- where Mahony was bishop before coming to Los Angeles -- was accused of harboring a priest who had molested children, Durham thought Mahony was lying then, and he thinks he's lying now. Of the cardinal's role as the star witness in the case involving former priest Oliver O'Grady, Durham insists, "I found Mahony to be utterly unbelievable." And he is not alone. "I didn't believe Mahony," echoes Abraham DeLeon, a lifelong Catholic, who also served on the panel. "I think it's pretty obvious that none of us [jurors] did."
Lawyers for two boys molested by O'Grady, James and Joh Howard, argued that Mahony and other diocesan officials knew that O'Grady was a child molester and that they covered it up for years, during which time the Irish-born priest abused at least 20 children. O'Grady was an equal opportunity pedophile, targeting males and females, with whom he variously engaged in oral and anal sex, masturbation, digital penetration, groping and fondling. This, while having illicit affairs with at least two of the children's mothers. At one parish where Mahony sent him despite a psychiatrist's warning that O'Grady was sexually and emotionally troubled, the priest kept a play pen at the rectory to make unsuspecting parents more comfortable leaving their children in his care. His youngest victim -- a girl who medical tests suggest was digitally raped -- was 9 months old. After a seven-week trial, the jury of four women and eight men awarded the Howards $24 million in punitive damages (later cut in half by a judge) and another $6 million in compensatory damages. Although the church has had to fork over larger compensatory damages in other cases, the punitive judgment awarded by the Stockton jury remains the largest ever in a child-molestation case.
However, more significantly, especially in view of the current scandal engulfing the church, not to mention Mahony's well-publicized stonewalling of Los Angeles law enforcement, the verdict was a repudiation of the man who presides over the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese and has even been mentioned as a future pope. As bishop of Stockton from 1980 to 1985, Mahony shuffled O'Grady around and even promoted him in 1984 shortly after the diocese persuaded the Stockton Police Department to drop its investigation of a sexual incident with a child in which O'Grady was implicated. But when he took the witness stand as the highest-ranking American Catholic official ever to testify in a molestation case, Mahony tried to convey the impression that he knew little about the wayward priest. He repeatedly said that he never knew or couldn't recall key episodes related to his handling of the O'Grady matter. Stockton was, and is, a small diocese. During the time Mahony was there, it employed only about 80 priests. By contrast, there are some 1,200 priests in the sprawling L.A. Archdiocese that encompasses Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Indeed, a New Times examination of hundreds of pages of trial testimony and interviews with principals in the case raises numerous questions about the role of Mahony -- who declined to be interviewed for this article -- in the Stockton matter. A Catholic psychiatrist who evaluated O'Grady testified at the trial that it was common knowledge at the diocese in 1984 that O'Grady was a pedophile. A letter of apology from O'Grady to the parents of a young girl he molested in 1976 was included in his personnel file, to which Mahony had access. So was a 1980 letter from the Howard boys' father, who, although estranged from his wife, nonetheless wrote the diocese to complain that O'Grady was spending too much time with his children. Yet Mahony claimed no knowledge of the 1976 letter. He said he never bothered to examine the priest's personnel file and had no idea about what might have been in it. He acknowledged having been told by a subordinate about the 1980 letter, but said he didn't recall any issue related to children, and assumed that O'Grady's troubles were limited to his "excessive" visits to a married woman. Amazingly, during four hours of sometimes hostile questioning, the cardinal conveyed the impression that it was his underlings at the chancery office -- certainly not him -- who advanced O'Grady's career.
If it all sounds similar to accusations against Cardinal Bernard Law and the scandal that has riven the Boston Archdiocese since it was revealed that a pedophiliac priest under his watch molested up to 130 children while being shuffled from parish to parish for years, news media in Los Angeles and nationally didn't care much about the O'Grady case. The Boston scandal -- in which at least 80 priests by now have been accused of pedophilia -- set off a wave of recent media coverage focusing on sex-abuse cases across the country, many of which (we know now) had been brewing for up to two decades or longer. Yet the Stockton case -- which would have brought the problem of pedophilic priests in the Roman Catholic Church to light much sooner, and spared countless victims -- was barely covered in the press. "We were just flabbergasted that there was so little attention paid to the story," says Nancy Sloan, 37, who was abused by O'Grady as a girl and who testified at the Stockton trial. "I can remember calling up reporters and trying to get them to cover it and getting nothing but a ho-hum response. Now, since Boston, it's funny. I've got reporters from those same newspapers who refused to write much of anything about Mahony calling up begging me for interviews."
The result -- to the amazement of child- protection advocates and those victimized by Catholic clergy -- was that Mahony managed to skip away from the trial with minimal damage to his carefully cultivated image. Except perhaps in California's Central Valley.
After the trial got under way, lawyers for the plaintiffs were told that the only way to guarantee Mahony's testimony would be to provide him a private jet -- which was done. At the conclusion of his day on the witness stand, the cardinal flew home and immediately entered USC's Norris Cancer Center to undergo a prostate operation. There, for the next two weeks -- during which time the jury returned its blockbuster verdict -- Mahony remained conveniently unavailable for questioning. "I call him the Teflon Cardinal," says Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minnesota, attorney who represented the Howards and has handled more than 300 sex-abuse cases against members of the clergy, including scores of priests. "Nothing has stuck to him yet."
Even now, as he continues to bob and weave regarding the unfolding scandal in L.A., Mahony displays the kind of behavior that rendered him unbelievable in the Stockton case. Besides stonewalling authorities, he has hunkered down in his residence overlooking the soon-to-open $193 million Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral, refusing to speak to any but a carefully chosen few reporters. His public pronouncements have been textbook examples of spin doctoring, either coming after leaks (as in the purloined e-mails that wound up in the hands of KFI radio) or as an attempt to put the best face on an unflattering story by offering scraps of information once reporters have gotten wind of something.
For instance, last week Mahony apologized publicly for having reassigned a priest who had been removed from his parish in 1988 for molesting two boys to chaplain duty at Cedars Sinai Medical Center -- without ever telling officials at the hospital that he had sent them a pedophile. Mahony said that if he had it to do over he would have drummend Father Michael Wempe out of the priesthood. But the episode involving Wempe (whose known track record as a child molester doesn't hold a candle to O'Grady's) raises more questions about Mahony's actions than it answers. It was only a month ago, amid the fallout from the current sex scandal, that Mahony finally saw fit to dump Wempe, forcing him into retirement. And as recently as two years ago, the cardinal thought well enough of the pedo-priest to be the star guest at a luncheon in his honor.
Almost from the time Mahony, 65, arrived in Los Angeles on Labor Day of 1985 after becoming archbishop here (Pope John Paul II elevated him to cardinal in 1991), he has been a larger-than-life figure. From humble origins as the son of a Hollywood electrician who later opened a poultry business, Mahony has surrounded himself with powerful and politically influential friends. (Former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan once gave him a $400,000 helicopter, which the cardinal flew around his archdiocese for several years before he was persuaded to give it up.) He has long cultivated a reputation as hardworking, organized and with a politician's facility for recalling the names of people, places and events. According to several priests in the archdiocese who agreed to speak about Mahony on condition of anonymity, he always has been intimately involved with even the most trivial affairs in his gargantuan realm. He's legendary for keeping a tight rein on his troops, including sending out midnight missives known as "snot-grams" to his subordinates to keep them in line. "The term control-freak comes to mind," confides one priest.
In essence, he doesn't strike anyone as the type who could be clueless about a potential scandal brewing in his midst. "If you really want to know who Roger Mahony is, all you need to do is look closely into the Stockton fiasco," says Father Thomas Doyle, a U.S. Air Force chaplain who is coauthor of a pioneering 1985 report on priestly sexual abuse that was distributed to every bishop in the United States. Doyle testified as an expert witness for the Howards. "Mahony was a key player in the grossly immoral cover-up involving Oliver O'Grady, and when I see him and others stand up now and apologize on behalf of the church for these sorts of crimes I have to ask myself, "Do they think we're stupid?'"
Oliver O'Grady's exploits would have stood out in the smarmy world of priestly child molesters even if such a prominent figure as Mahony weren't linked to his tragic legacy. "I've never seen a longer and more clearly documented pattern of cover-up by a diocese," says David Clohessy, who heads SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Although no one could have known it, O'Grady was carrying heavy emotional baggage when he arrived at the Stockton diocese as a newly ordained 25-year-old priest in 1971. He confided to one of his victims that he had been sexually abused by two priests in his native Ireland during a rough-and-tumble childhood in which his father died when he was six and his mother struggled to make ends meet while raising seven children. "Everyone liked Oliver," recalls former priest Cornelius DeGroot. "But he kept people at a distance. You could never really get to know him." O'Grady served as associate pastor to DeGroot in the Central Valley town of Lodi in the 1970s.For diocesan officials, alarm bells went off in 1976, four years before Mahony arrived in Stockton as the new bishop. While helping oversee a church youth camp in the Sierra foothills the previous summer, O'Grady had struck up a friendship with a Fairfield, California, couple who were parents of a young girl. They were thrilled when O'Grady invited their daughter, 11-year-old Nancy Sloan, to visit him in Lodi for what amounted to a four-day weekend. "My parents considered it an honor that a priest would take such personal interest in me," recalls Sloan, now a registered nurse. During her visit with O'Grady, she says, he groped between her legs while they were in a swimming pool, forcibly kissed her on the lips in a church after performing a wedding ceremony, fondled her at the state capitol during a day-trip to Sacramento and forced himself on her as she lay sleeping in a downstairs bedroom of the Lodi rectory. Horrified and confused, she revealed the abuse to her parents upon returning home, including O'Grady's threats against her if she told anyone.
Upon receiving a phone call from the parents, DeGroot confronted O'Grady, who confessed. DeGroot says he then called Bishop Merlin Guilfoyle to tell him what had happened, and drove O'Grady to the chancery office in Stockton to "turn him over" to Guilfoyle. However, to his surprise, Guilfoyle took no action against the errant priest other than to suggest that he seek counseling from a local psychiatrist at the diocese's expense. "It was shocking really," recalls DeGroot, 72, who eventually left the priesthood to practice law in Stockton. "It should have been curtains for [O'Grady] as a priest right there. It wasn't just an allegation. He was an admitted child molester."
But O'Grady got even luckier. The staunchly Catholic Sloans did not press criminal charges, and neither did they sue. Instead, they chose to let the diocese pay for therapy for their daughter. The now-deceased Guilfoyle, who was then nearing retirement, swept the budding scandal under the rug. Neither he nor anyone else from the diocese contacted authorities. "My impression," says DeGroot, "was that he decided to leave O'Grady for his successor [Mahony] to deal with." The one thing the bishop did do was ship O'Grady to another parish. But before O'Grady left Lodi, DeGroot persuaded him to write a letter of apology to Sloan's parents for molesting their daughter. The typewritten two-page letter, dated August 23, 1976 (a copy of which was placed in O'Grady's secret file at the chancery office), played a role many years later in convincing the civil jury that the diocese had covered up the matter during the Mahony era and beyond.
Nancy Sloan wasn't the first person O'Grady molested. He was regularly abusing a young girl in the Lodi parish while a guest in that family's home. The girl's parents had been clueless, with the mother even putting out pajamas for the priest during his occasional overnight stays. Of the suspected 20 victims that prosecutors and plaintiffs attorneys say exist, only nine came forward -- most of them long after it was too late to file criminal charges or civil suits because statutes of limitation had expired. Except for Sloan, all the known victims, from the mid-'70s to the early '90s, attended parish churches to which O'Grady was assigned. They included three boys and a girl from among Roland and Ann Howard's nine children. The Howards were living in the town of Turlock when O'Grady landed there as associate priest after he was transferred from Lodi. By the late '70s, he had begun to molest James and Joh Howard, while both were preschoolers. He did so, off and on, for 10 years.
At the same time, court records show, he had also begun an affair with the boys' mother that continued after the Howards moved away to Merced. In October of 1980 -- six months after Mahony arrived as the new bishop -- Roland Howard wrote his letter to the chancery office. In it, he complained, although the couple had split up, about O'Grady's continued visits to his wife and about the priest's spending too much time around his children. He groused that O'Grady had showed up on his day off dressed in "street clothes" and had taken his two-year-old son away alone for the day. That letter also went into O'Grady's secret file.
The letter prompted Mahony to summon O'Grady to meet with him. At the conclusion of their talk, the bishop ordered the priest to stay away from Merced. O'Grady didn't. In fact, his accusers say he continued to molest the Howard children while carrying on his priestly duties. Whether or not it was to keep a better eye on him, Mahony transferred O'Grady into Stockton in 1982. It was there in 1984 that problems with him erupted anew. Just what prompted what follows isn't certain, but Mahony's vicar general, Monsignor James Cain, approached a local Catholic psychiatric social worker in October of that year about providing counseling for O'Grady. It was an unusual request for a couple of reasons. Not only was the counselor, William Guttieri, a parishioner in O'Grady's Stockton church, but the two socialized. Nevertheless, during one of their sessions, O'Grady alluded to having engaged in recent pedophiliac activity with a boy, who turned out to be James Howard. As he was obligated to do under state law, Guttieri reported what he had been told to Stockton police and to San Joaquin County Child Protective Services. He also informed Tom Shephard, the diocese's lawyer.
What happened next was extraordinary. Stockton police detective Jerald Cranston went to Merced to interview Ann Howard, who acknowledged that some of her children had spent nights with O'Grady at the rectory 50 miles away in Stockton and that O'Grady was an occasional overnight guest in her home. The detective had less luck talking to the alleged victim, her son James, who was nine at the time. The boy didn't volunteer that he had been molested and the detective didn't press him. When Cranston got back to Stockton, he received a call from Shephard, the diocese's lawyer. According to police records, Shephard told him that diocese officials -- he didn't say who -- had interviewed O'Grady and felt the alleged episode involving the boy was an isolated incident. According to the police officer, the diocesan lawyer assured him that O'Grady would get counseling through the church and that he would be transferred to a new assignment where he would be working with adults away from any children.
Shephard was essentially making a pitch to Stockton police to leave O'Grady's future in the hands of Bishop Mahony -- who, by then, enjoyed an almost legendary reputation among the farm belt diocese's many Latino parishioners for his early support of United Farm Workers president Cesar Chavez during the labor organizer's struggle against wealthy San Juaquin Valley grape producers. (Ironically, Mahony's image as a friend of poor working people later took a beating when he snuffed out efforts by mostly Latino workers at the L.A. Archdiocese's cemeteries to organize a union in the early 1990s.) After the call from Shephard in late November, the police investigation fizzled.
Mahony did order a fresh psychological evaluation of O'Grady. But amazingly, he then shipped the priest to a parish in the remote Sierra foothills community of San Andreas two weeks before Christmas of 1984, without even waiting for the psychiatrist's report. When the report arrived nearly three weeks after O'Grady was in the new assignment, it couldn't have been what Mahony wanted to hear. O'Grady had admitted to the psychiatrist, John Morris, that he had molested children, although he didn't say how many or for how long. Although Morris didn't include those particular facts in the written report he sent to Mahony (and, at the 1998 civil trial, didn't seem to recall exactly what he told Mahony during one or more conversations with him years earlier), the written document spelled out clearly Morris' conclusion that O'Grady exhibited serious sexual and social immaturity. In a rather revealing suggestion -- considering that the secular psychiatrist was informing a Roman Catholic bishop about one of his priests -- Morris also urged that O'Grady be given "spiritual" help.
But O'Grady had already lucked out again by that time, and Mahony wasn't about to do anything to change that. Interestingly, O'Grady, always before an associate pastor, had been promoted by Mahony when he was transferred to San Andreas. So instead of landing in jail or getting defrocked, O'Grady -- despite the psychiatrist's shocking evaluation -- would continue handling the administrative duties of an ailing elderly priest in a parish brimming with children. The year after the pedo-priest's promotion, Mahony was himself promoted and transferred. He became archbishop and headed to L.A., presumably putting O'Grady behind him.
It was while at San Andreas that Oliver O'Grady came into his prime as a sexual predator. The crimes committed against James and Joh Howard that eventually got him sent to prison occurred after he was transferred there. It was also after the transfer that he allegedly committed offenses against two of the boys' siblings. He was never prosecuted as a result of those allegations since authorities didn't become aware of them until statutes of limitation had expired. While he continued a long-distance relationship with Ann Howard in Merced, O'Grady also zeroed in on a young married woman -- and her children -- in his new parish. The woman, now 46, who has never been identified publicly in connection with O'Grady, agreed to tell her story to New Times on condition that she be identified only as Jane Doe. She and her husband agreed to an undisclosed settlement with the Stockton diocese in 1995 stemming from O'Grady's molesting two of their children, including a daughter who was only nine months old when the abuse began.Doe and her husband were among the unsuspecting parishioners on hand to welcome O'Grady to San Andreas. Slender -- barely five feet five inches tall and sporting a comb-over to conceal a thinning hairline -- O'Grady scarcely fit the description of a lady's man. But those who knew him say he was the quintessential nurturer. "He had this quality of seeming to always be absolutely listening to you, of hearing everything, being emotionally supportive, feeding you the things you needed to hear," recalls Doe. He became "like a member of the family," a confidante to both her and her husband. The couple didn't consider it unusual that the priest gave their grade-school-age son gifts and showered him with attention. After their daughter was born, he volunteered to baby-sit. For her part, Doe had turned to O'Grady for pastoral help as she struggled with episodic depression and her husband's excessive drinking. Gradually, she says, she became emotionally involved with him. "Looking back on it, I was pathetically ill at the time. I actually thought I loved this man." Their first sexual encounter occurred during a counseling session at the rectory in 1992. It was the start of a year-long affair that ended abruptly -- with what she describes as the most horrifying phone call of her life.
The call, from one of Ann Howard's grown daughters, came the Monday after Father's Day in June of 1993. "She told me who she was, that she and three of her brothers had been molested by Oliver O'Grady as children, and that she feared he may have now moved on to my children," recalls Doe. O'Grady's brazenness had triggered the warning. A short time earlier, the priest had flown to San Diego to attend a wedding of a Howard relative. At the reception, one of the Howard sons, whom the priest had molested, noticed O'Grady paying undue attention to one of his little brothers and exploded in anger, creating a scene. The San Diego episode left O'Grady visibly shaken, but by the time he greeted Doe, who picked him up at the Oakland airport upon his return, there was no hint that anything was wrong. However, the incident had pushed four of the Howard children to a horrible mutual realization -- they had each been victimized by O'Grady without the others ever knowing.
Doe recalls feeling suicidal while listening to the Howard daughter's voice on the phone. But by the time the conversation ended, she says, "I was very calm, and I believed her." She called her husband and told him to come home immediately to stay with the kids. Then she called her sister-in-law to accompany her on the 45-minute drive to the town of Hughson, near Modesto, where O'Grady had been transferred recently. She was so shocked and angry that she was determined to confront him. In the church parking lot she was greeted by Ann Howard, who had driven up from Merced with her daughter and the daughter's boyfriend so that Doe would not have to face the priest alone. The daughter and her friend were already inside the rectory talking to O'Grady. By the time Doe and Howard entered, fisticuffs had broken out between the cleric and the boyfriend. O'Grady grabbed a phone to dial 911. "If you do, I'm going to tell the whole world what you did!" Doe recalls Howard's daughter shouting. O'Grady put down the phone, but it was too late. The emergency center already had determined the number from which the call had been placed. Within minutes, sheriff's deputies arrived.
The deputies took a disturbance report without making an arrest. But it was the beginning of the end for O'Grady. Doe and her husband, as part of a preliminary criminal investigation, pushed to have their daughter, who by then was barely two years old, examined by doctors at UC Davis to determine the extent to which she may have been molested. The results revealed vaginal scarring consistent with digital penetration. Since the little girl had not begun to talk when the abuse occurred, the local district attorney's office shied away from pursuing charges. As for their son, who then had just turned 14, Doe and her husband embarked on the difficult task of drawing the boy out about what O'Grady had done to him. "He was extremely traumatized and became extremely withdrawn," Doe recalls. After finally breaking down and telling his parents what had happened, he became so distraught that he attempted to kill himself.
Meanwhile, James and Joh Howard (whose abuses, like those of the Doe children, hadn't happened so long ago that O'Grady couldn't be prosecuted because of statutes of limitation) decided the time had come to go to the authorities. O'Grady was arrested in early August of 1993, based on charges brought by the brothers. Still, it was little consolation to Jane Doe, who wanted to know the truth about what the priest had done to her children, especially to her daughter, who couldn't speak for herself. When he refused to talk to her when she visited him in jail shortly after his arrest, she sent a pastoral counselor, the Reverend Deborah Warwick Fabino, an Episcopal priest, to see him. To Fabino's surprise, O'Grady confessed to molesting the Doe children and several others. "His attorneys were advising him to plead not guilty" to molesting the Howards, Fabino tells New Times, "but when I said I needed to let the police know [about his confessions] they apparently changed their minds." Charged with 21 counts of lewd and lascivious conduct involving the two Howard boys, O'Grady admitted guilt to four of the counts as part of a plea bargain. He was sent to Mule Creek State Prison in nearby Ione to begin serving seven years behind bars.
Doe says she feels fortunate -- though she was shattered spiritually and her son, now 22, has been rendered "emotionally unstable" by the abuse, despite years of therapy. The week she confronted O'Grady her husband quit drinking. "He told me that I'd stuck with him for years, and that it was his turn to stick with me. It's a nightmare we've lived through, but we're still there for each other." Citing a confidentiality agreement, she declines to say how much the Stockton diocese paid to settle their civil complaint, but she is convinced that it was far less than what a jury would have awarded had they not chosen to forego a trial to spare their children further trauma.
She says Mahony has been the biggest impediment in her healing process. In 1994, after O'Grady went to prison, Doe, using Fabino as an intermediary, sought an audience with the cardinal as a way of seeking closure. "I just wanted to understand from him how he could have allowed this man to have continued as a priest and how he could have sent him [to San Andreas] knowing what I'm convinced he knew," says Doe. Fabino says she wrote a letter to the cardinal appealing to him as a pastor, asking him to see Doe, but that Mahony refused. "I got a cursory letter back from one of his representatives saying it wasn't possible," Fabino says. "That was it."
Had Nancy Sloan followed through with a promise she made to herself, the Doe family and others might have escaped a lot of pain. Sloan had turned 21 in 1986 and with support from a therapist felt compelled to confront O'Grady for what he had done to her as a child 10 years earlier. Mahony had moved to L.A., and the Most Reverend Donald Montrose had taken over as bishop in Stockton by then. Sloan wrote to the chancery office seeking information about O'Grady, and was immediately put off by the response. Diocesan officials didn't tell her much of anything. Persisting, she drove to Stockton in May 1986 and sat down with several of them, including Monsignor Cain, who was still the vicar general. The interchange became testy, she says, especially after one of the priests tried to explain away the church's handling of her abuse by saying that there might have been a different response if she had been a boy. Sloan says she was assured by diocesan officials that O'Grady had voluntarily submitted to counseling; that there had never been another incident with him involving a child after her 1976 experience; that he had been assigned to duties that kept him away from children and that he was a highly respected priest doing wonderful things.Of course, it was all lies.
She told Cain and the others that she wanted to confront O'Grady as part of her healing process, but they didn't think it was a good idea. Neither did her parents. So she backed off. But not for long. On a winter Sunday in March of 1987, she drove an hour-and-a-half from her home to Saint Andrew's Parish Church in San Andreas, knowing that O'Grady would preside at mass that morning.
Since she doubted he would recognize her, she had a plan. She would confront him before the entire parish. She would pretend to partake of communion, and just before he extended the Eucharist, she would blurt out what she had come for. If she couldn't get her nerve up, there was a backup plan. She would go into the confessional and tell him that she had been abused by a priest and wait for his response before revealing herself to him. "I think more than anything I wanted to hear him offer some mitigating circumstance, or say he was sorry, or that he felt self-loathing, just something, anything. But mostly I wanted to see the look on his face when I told him about how he robbed me of my childhood." Driving past the town cemetery on the way to the church she fantasized that he might be dead, even though she knew better. She had printed copies of the apology letter DeGroot had compelled him to write a decade earlier and intended to put one on every car in the parking lot.
But none of it went as intended. He was already at the sacristy when she entered the church, and she took a seat near the back. When the service was over, she waited until a contingent of parishioners gathered around their priest near the front of the church had thinned out before approaching. But just as she got close, a woman with a little girl stepped in front of her. "Give father a hug," the woman exhorted. "It was more than I could take," recalls Sloan, who says she sat in a pew and wept. O'Grady, she says, walked past her without saying a word.
By the time she composed herself and left the church, there were no cars in the parking lot on which to place O'Grady's letter. But she had another chance. He had headed off to the nearby community of Mokelumne Hill, eight miles up the road, to preside at a second mass that morning. Sloan followed. Again, she sat through the service. This time, in a scene that she says was reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie, the parishioners lined up outside on the front steps of the tiny church to greet the priest after the service. Biding her time, she waited until the last person left before drawing close. "Nancy, isn't it?" she recalls him saying, as if she were an old chum. He quickly became agitated and asked her to leave. "He wanted to pretend it never happened," she says of his abuse of her, "and he let me know in no uncertain terms that he wanted me to disappear. He even threatened to sue me when I told him I was thinking of distributing his apology." Disappointed yet pleased that she had had the courage to face her abuser, Sloan got in her car and drove away. Except for O'Grady, not a soul in San Andreas -- least of all Jane Doe -- knew why she had come.
Considering O'Grady's many alleged victims, the priest's arrest, guilty plea and prison sentence related to just the four felony counts regarding the Howard brothers must have seemed a momentary blessing in disguise for the diocese and Mahony. Avoiding a nasty criminal trial, not to mention civil litigation, meant less publicity. The diocese quickly instituted settlement talks with Doe and her husband, who in truth were never keen on a rigorous court proceeding.That left the Howards, and they were a different story. Their local attorney, Laurence Drivon of Stockton, teamed up with Anderson, the Minnesota lawyer, who had already gained a tough-as-nails reputation in prosecuting dozens of civil cases across the country involving priestly sexual abuse. In James and Joh Howard the lawyers had clients who were not only willing to endure the emotional strain of going to court, but who stood to help inflict heavy financial damage on the diocese once a jury heard about how Mahony and the others had embraced a sexual predator. Drivon and Anderson would have a field day making the three bishops of Stockton -- especially the, by then, exalted Mahony -- appear derelict in letting O'Grady run amuck among the unsuspecting faithful.
It's no exaggeration to say Mahony came off horribly on the witness stand, and it wasn't because the air-conditioning in a storage area converted into a courtroom was no match for Stockton's muggy June heat. "I did not know of [O'Grady's] admission to these matters at the time of these appointments," Mahony told the rapt courtroom. But what the bishop-turned-cardinal acknowledged about his priest struck Durham, the juror, as unconscionable -- especially in view of Mahony's approach of merely shuffling the pedophile from parish to parish. For instance, when asked about Roland Howard's 1980 letter, Mahony said he hadn't seen it, but that Cain, the vicar general, had told him about it and that he had no understanding at the time that the letter alluded to any concern Howard may have had about O'Grady's being around his children.
"Apparently there was a concern that [O'Grady] was still having some kind of visitation or relationship with this woman in Merced, and that's the basis of the -- that's where I learned about it," Mahony testified, referring to the letter. He told the court that Cain informed him that the avowedly celibate priest had been carrying on a relationship with Ann Howard, that she and her husband were having marital problems and that O'Grady's involvement with her "may have been excessive." (Ann Howard did not respond to interview requests for this article. A long-time acquaintance says "she and her children want to put the O'Grady saga behind them.")
Mahony's explanation of the events surrounding O'Grady's 1984 admission of having engaged in sexual conduct with James Howard and the diocese's role in talking the police out of pursuing the matter was particularly troublesome, Durham recalls. He refers to Mahony's contending that he didn't know about previous allegations of misconduct by O'Grady involving children -- which was disputed by at least one other witness who testified that O'Grady's reputation as a child molester was well-known among diocesan priests. "That's the sort of thing that, once it gets out, it spreads," DeGroot, who pulled the plug on O'Grady in 1976, tells New Times. For that matter, O'Grady's written admission of his misconduct with Nancy Sloan was on file in the chancery office. "To me it's inconceivable that [Mahony] didn't know," DeGroot says.
Even more jaw-dropping was the cardinal's Orwellian rationale for not probing the 1984 O'Grady confession to Guttieri, the psychiatric counselor, about O'Grady's abuse of James Howard before assigning the pedophile to the San Andreas post. Mahony testified that he never once bothered to speak to Guttieri about O'Grady. The mere notion of a bishop -- and especially a hands-on manager like Mahony -- not deigning to consult with someone to whom one of his priests had confessed pedophilia smacked of incredulity. Not only that, but the counselor had already testified that he had informed the diocese's attorney about O'Grady's revelation even before notifying the police and child welfare authorities. Mahony said the police had investigated the matter, dismissed it and there was therefore "no need to pursue it." Never mind that Cranston, the Stockton police investigator, refuted that assessment in court. According to the officer, it was the diocese, through Shephard, its lawyer, who approached him seeking to sweep the matter under the rug. Cranston said Shephard assured him that there were no previous allegations of misconduct with children involving O'Grady and that the diocese would reassign him to duties that didn't place him in contact with children. (In his testimony, Shephard denied telling that to the officer.) For someone who dismissed what O'Grady had confessed to his counselor as not worth pursuing, Mahony wasted no time in calling Morris, the psychiatrist, to have O'Grady evaluated in November, even as the police were trying to collect the facts about what O'Grady had done to the boy.
But it was Mahony's attempts to shift responsibility for O'Grady's being shuffled around that provide perhaps the most revealing insight into the cardinal's mindset concerning child-molesting priests. "If you had known that he had, in fact, admitted to touching a child in 1976, would you have committed to him the full care of souls at [San Andreas]?" attorney Drivon asked. "No," said Mahony, who quickly jumped to defending his response to O'Grady's 1984 problem: "We relied on the judgment of professionals."
Drivon: "Cardinal, if you had known that he had admitted to a touching of a nine-year-old boy to Mr. Guttieri in 1984 and conduct of [a] similar nature, would you have committed to him the full care of souls at the church in [San Andreas]?"
Mahony: "It's a bit speculative. In any case and all cases we -- if there's a suspicion or problem -- refer to competent professionals to assist in making the recommendations. And if the competent professionals do not raise any flag or cautions or concerns, then we act according to their judgment."
Drivon: "Are you saying, Cardinal, that if Father O'Grady had admitted to you that he had molested a child and you referred him to a professional that said he could be placed [in a parish], you would have placed him?"
Mahony: "Again that's hypothetical. If Father O'Grady had had a conversation with me that raised suspicions with me, I would have most likely put any permanent assignment on hold until we got it clarified one way or the other."
A moment later, Anderson, the Howards' cocounsel, bore into the sensitive point one more time: "Cardinal, are you suggesting that you would have considered placing him in that parish [at San Andreas] if a professional would have recommended it notwithstanding a molestation by Father O'Grady?"
Mahony replied, "No. I said we would have withheld [an appointment] depending on what the situation was. We would have either taken him out of there possibly for further evaluation. We would not have proceeded without taking adequate steps to make sure there were no problems."
As the trial made clear, no such steps were taken. And before it was
over, lawyers for the plaintiffs made certain the point wasn't missed.
O'Grady, looking haggard and dressed in prison garb, took the witness
stand to be glared at one last time by accusers who had waited years to
hear words of contrition. He didn't bestow any. Neither did he have anything
to say upon being released from prison early last year over the objections
of numerous of his alleged victims. Having forced him to serve a required
seven years behind bars, state officials declined to evoke a law that
allows convicted child molesters to have their sentences extended when
their release is deemed a threat to society. O'Grady walked out of jail
into the arms of agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
They promptly escorted him to the airport in San Francisco, where he was
placed on a flight bound for his native Ireland. "I guess the thinking
was why let American taxpayers pay for his upkeep, when they could just
turn him loose to molest Irish kids," says Sloan, who opposed the
release.O'Grady wasn't on trial in Stockton, but in a real sense, Mahony
was. "In order to bring in that verdict, the jury had to believe
the cardinal was not telling the truth," says Anderson, the attorney.
"If they had believed the cardinal, there would not have been punitive
damages under the law." After the verdict, when some of the lawyers
were standing around talking to jurors, Anderson says he asked a 50-year-old
woman juror and lifelong Catholic how she felt seeing Mahony walk into
the courtroom. "I just prayed that you wouldn't be too hard on him
because my mother and dad always taught me that a cardinal is like a saint,"
she told him. "And so I said, "Well, how did you feel afterward?'
She just broke down sobbing, and said, "He lied.'"
By Don Lattin firstname.lastname@example.org
Abuse victims familiar with a Stockton pedophile case are outraged that Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles -- one of eight U.S. cardinals called to Rome next week over the sex scandal rocking the Catholic Church -- is entrusted with carrying out new policies to protect children from harm.
Testimony in the 1998 Stockton case, in which a jury awarded two brothers millions of dollars in damages, indicated that Mahony had knowingly allowed a pedophile priest to continue working and taken no action to keep him away from children.
This year, an admission of similar malfeasance from Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston was a key factor in precipitating the current atmosphere of crisis in the church.
"I'm particularly troubled that someone like Mahony can be considered a potential part of the solution when his own track record has been very dismal," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Mahony, Clohessy said, lacks the credibility needed to find real solutions at the unprecedented meeting with Pope John Paul II.
With similar issues shadowing Mahony and Law, Clohessy said the Vatican trip was like "calling the top officials of Enron together to prevent another economic fiasco."
Mahony served as the bishop of the Diocese of Stockton from 1980 to 1985, when he was elevated to head the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese. According to sworn court testimony, Bishop Mahony ignored documented evidence presented to him warning that the Rev. Oliver O'Grady was a dangerous child molester.
Stockton attorney Larry Drivon, who won the verdict against O'Grady and the Stockton Diocese, was shocked that Mahony would be called on to help the church find a way out of the sex abuse crisis.
"The thought of having this guy protect children against pedophile priests is sickening," Drivon said. "Parents should ask whether they want a solution left in the hands of Roger Mahony."
Nancy Sloan, a Fairfield woman who says she was molested by O'Grady in 1976, when she was 11 years old, said she thought Mahony -- the West Coast's only cardinal -- should resign as the archbishop of Los Angeles.
"Mahony betrayed our trust and hasn't taken responsibility for his part in all this," Sloan said. Among the material presented in the 1998 trial was a 1976 letter in the files of the Stockton diocese in which O'Grady admitted to inappropriate behavior with Sloan.
The evidence implicating Mahony in the O'Grady case was offered by the very psychiatrist whom Mahony, as bishop, had hired in 1984 to assess the pedophile priest. O'Grady was sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of lewd and lascivious acts.
In his testimony in the Stockton trial, Mahony denied that he knew O'Grady was a child molester.
But that statement was contradicted by the testimony of Dr. William Morris. According to the trial transcript, Morris testified that O'Grady had admitted being a "molester of children" and that Mahony had told Morris that he knew about O'Grady's pedophilia problem.
Morris' written report warned that O'Grady suffered "a severe defect in (sexual and social) maturation" and "is not truly called to the priesthood." Nevertheless, Mahony sent the priest on to other parishes, where the molestations continued.
Drivon, who calls Mahony "the Teflon cardinal," noted that there had been numerous calls for Law to resign as archbishop of Boston over his mishandling of problem priests.
Mahony "did what Cardinal Law did," Drivon added. "But I don't believe Cardinal Law had the opportunity to lie on the witness stand under oath."
Drivon said the Stockton jury had found in its verdict that Mahony "acted with malice and that his conduct was despicable." To reach that conclusion, Drivon said, "they had to find that he (Mahony) was lying."
Attorneys for two victims of O'Grady molestation, brothers Joh and James Howard of Turlock, said Mahony was one of three bishops who had covered up for O'Grady.
In 1998, when The Chronicle first reported the evidence against Mahony in the O'Grady case, Clohessy said the case was "the clearest documented history of coverup by a diocese." At the time, neither the cardinal nor his spokesman chose to comment.
Repeated phone calls yesterday and Wednesday to Mahony's spokesman, Tod Tamberg, were not returned.
But Mahony gave a series of interviews yesterday about new plans to protect children in the Los Angeles diocese.
"One of our main roles is forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration," Mahony said.
Among his proposals are:
-- Expanding the authority of a panel overseeing sexual abuse allegations in the archdiocese. He is considering appointing a sexual abuse victim to improve credibility.
-- Creating a separate task force to address how much the archdiocese has paid to settle abuse claims against clergy members.
-- Adding spiritual programs that aid victims who are members of the church but want separate guidance from other forms of counseling.
Mahony and 20 lower-ranking bishops from across California were wrapping up a private meeting in Los Angeles yesterday. Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, said the state's bishops had been told by leaders of the U.S. bishops conference to come up with proposals to help solve the sex abuse crisis.
The bishops issued no public statement at the adjournment of their meeting yesterday afternoon.
But whatever they did come up with will also be presented at a June meeting of all the U.S. bishops in Dallas. That meeting -- unlike the California bishops gatherings or next week's session at the Vatican -- are open to the press.
The initial $30 million verdict in the O'Grady case -- $6 million in compensatory damages and $24 million in punitive damages -- was never collected.
A judge later reduced the award, and in 1999 the Diocese of Stockton agreed to pay the Howard brothers $7.65 million.
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