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  Abuse Victim Calls for Mahony's Resignation
Woman Says She Was Molested by Priest after Officials Promised He Wouldn't Work around Kids. Priest Was School Administrator at St. Anthony's Church in El Segundo

By Alison Shackelford Hewitt
Daily Breeze [California]
October 19, 2005

A woman who accused former Catholic priest George Neville Rucker of sexual molestation called Monday on Cardinal Roger Mahony to resign or release more thorough documentation about the careers of pedophile priests.

Supported by her attorney and claiming the support of other victims of Rucker -- who was a school administrator at St. Anthony's Church in El Segundo in the 1960s -- Jackie Dennis said church officials knew about previous molestation accusations against Rucker, but did not act to prevent him from subsequently working at her school and others.

She said Mahony let Rucker retire with "full honors" despite the allegations of sexual misconduct, and added that documents released by the Los Angeles Archdiocese last week whitewash the former priest's history.

The archdiocese documents show that from 1965 to 1967, while Rucker was working in El Segundo, there were reports that he had "imprudent relations with school girls" and was "using his hands too freely on school girls."

At least one complaint was investigated by police in 1967, but no one pressed charges.

Dennis's lawyer, Arthur Goldberg, pointed out that an earlier archdiocese report clarified that members of a family planning to press charges "withdrew their complaint after meeting with Auxiliary Bishop (and future Cardinal) Timothy Manning." Goldberg said a daughter in that family told him the bishop promised them that Rucker would never again be given a position that allowed him near children.

However, a few years later, Dennis was allegedly the victim of almost daily molestation by Rucker when he became a pastor at St. Agatha, where she went to school, she said.

"I was so scared of Rucker, but even when his hands were on me and I wanted to think that he was a bad man, I kept thinking, 'I can't think that about him or I'll go to hell,' " Dennis said. "I kept thinking, 'God doesn't make mistakes.' "

In the late 1980s, new allegations against Rucker began to surface as adult women came forward to recount molestations when they were younger. Dennis is one of 41 women who has filed civil charges against the former priest. Criminal charges against him were thrown out for being filed too late.

Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg said there was nothing improper about letting Rucker retire without reprimand in 1987, two years after Mahony became cardinal.

"We had no other reports of abusive behavior after 1965" at that time, Tamberg said, emphasizing that no charges were filed in the case investigated by police in 1967.

In 2002, Mahony instituted a zero-tolerance policy regarding molestations by priests, and forced Rucker to leave his parish at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Pacific Palisades, where he had retired, Tamberg said.

"There was no special treatment," Tamberg said. "Do I believe that Jackie (Dennis) was harmed? Yes, I believe her."

But the abuse happened under Cardinal Manning's administration, he added.

"Many of the victims direct all their anger at Cardinal Mahony," Tamberg said. "It's unfair and somewhat misdirected, although understandable."

 
 

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