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Mahony in '80s Banned Two Priests
Deposition reveals he ousted pair accused of molestation from U.S. while he was Stockton bishop. He said incidents had slipped his mind.

By Jean Guccione
Los Angeles Times
December 10, 2004

Two decades go when he was bishop of Stockton, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony ordered two priests accused of child molestation to leave the country, according to a transcript of a deposition he gave last month.

Mahony gave the deposition in lawsuits filed by people who claim they were molested by several priests, including a third one whom he transferred when he was bishop of Stockton.

Mahony said the two instances when he told priests to leave the country had slipped his memory.

"I had forgotten about those incidents," he testified in a Nov. 23 deposition in lawsuits alleging the Roman Catholic Church was negligent in failing to protect children from predatory priests. The transcript was made public Thursday.

The cardinal told a jury six years ago that the only priest accused of molestation during his time in Stockton was Oliver Francis O'Grady, who was later convicted of molesting two brothers, imprisoned and defrocked. He is now in Ireland.

In the 1998 trial, Mahony testified that he was inexperienced in dealing with abuse allegations when he transferred O'Grady, who continued to molest at his new assignment. The jury awarded two brothers $30 million in the trial, the only lawsuit out of hundreds pending in which Mahony has testified.

Mahony supervised O'Grady from 1980 to 1985. He is a witness, not a defendant, in the latest lawsuits alleging the Stockton Diocese failed to protect children from O'Grady. The priest, a defendant in the cases, has denied the allegations in court papers.

Lawyers for victims say the deposition, which was taken in a secret location, helps establish what Mahony knew about child sexual abuse by priests before he became archbishop of Los Angeles in September 1985.

The cardinal has not given sworn testimony in any of the more than 500 pending claims against the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Lawyers for all sides are trying to reach a financial settlement that would resolve all claims without a trial.

O'Grady has been accused of molesting at least eight victims.

In the deposition, Mahony was asked if he recalled being approached in 1981 by a teenager and his mother who accused a Stockton priest of molestation.

"I have absolutely no recollection of that," Mahony testified.

The same accuser said on CNN Thursday night that he had moved to Stockton from the Philippines at age 16 and that O'Grady had helped him learn English. He said the priest also fondled him.

The diocese said the man's story was inconsistent.

The two priests sent out of the country by Mahony were Antonio Munoz and Antonio Camacho, both Mexican nationals working as visiting priests in the Stockton Diocese, according to Mahony's testimony.

Last month's deposition makes public two previously unreported cases of child sexual abuse by priests on Mahony's watch in Stockton.

Attorney Donald F. Woods Jr. said those incidents show that Mahony responded properly when faced with corroborated evidence of sexual abuse by priests, even before the church had adopted a "zero tolerance" policy last year.

"It's quite clear that he moved very quickly," he said.

In the deposition, Mahony said he was not trying to mislead the jury. He blamed earthquakes, the Los Angeles riots and a 1987 papal visit for his bad memory.

In the first case, Munoz was accused in 1981 of taking a group of high school students to Tijuana, where he molested several of them. They and their parents reported the incident to church officials, and Mahony banned him from the diocese.

Three years later, several high school students and their parents met with Mahony to complain that Camacho molested them. Mahony ordered Camacho to return to Mexico, but he refused. Mahony contacted police, and notified immigration authorities to have him deported.

In the deposition, Mahony distinguished those cases from O'Grady, saying that "we had actual victims we could identify and believe."

Mahony testified in the deposition that when dealing with the charges against O'Grady, he never looked at his confidential personnel file, which contained a 1976 apology from the priest to the parents of an 11-year-old girl he touched sexually. Nor did Mahony inquire further into the 1985 police investigation, opened when O'Grady's therapist filed a suspected child abuse report with local authorities.

O'Grady was referred to a therapist after he told Mahony's deputy that he was having sexual urges toward a boy. After their first meeting, the therapist filed a suspected child abuse report against O'Grady.

Police investigated but never filed charges because the 9-year-old could not recall being fondled in his sleep by the priest.

Ten days later, Mahony transferred O'Grady to Presentation Catholic Church in San Andreas, where he was later accused of molesting other children.

 
 

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