Details on 11 Priests Missing
in '04 Report
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony acknowledged to Los Angeles Catholics in his
2004 "Report to the People of God" that he left five priests
in ministry despite complaints that they had molested children.
But The Times' analysis shows that the zero-tolerance policy was not always enforced, as the case of Father Joseph Pina illustrates. Pina is one of the seven priests left in ministry during Mahony's tenure whose history was not detailed in the People of God report. Pina's name appears in the report only on a list of 211 accused priests. [See People of God Report listing, PDF p. 29, no. 63.]
In 1990, the summary of his personnel file states, Pina told an archdiocesan official that he had "past sexual interest in a minor" and that he was seeing a therapist. In 1993, the brother of the girl who had aroused Pina's sexual interest contacted the archdiocese, alleging abuse that began when his sister was 16. [See the File Summary for Pina.]
In 1994, Pina was sent to a Pennsylvania hospital "for therapeutic treatment," the summary states. In 1998, Pina was promoted to pastor at St. Emydius Catholic Church in Lynwood. That same year, three women reported "boundary violations." Pina denied "any inappropriate conduct with two of the three women." At that point, he was placed on "sick leave" and never returned to ministry.
In 2001, as part of a legal settlement, the church agreed to remove any priest who had been the subject of a credible sexual abuse allegation. But in 1992, Mahony's policy on accused priests "was still evolving," Tamberg said.
"What Cardinal Mahony meant at that time by 'zero tolerance' was that henceforward any priest with a contemporaneous, proven report of child sexual abuse would be removed," the archdiocese spokesman said. "In other words, zero tolerance for any new allegations of abuse arising in 1992 or after. This standard did not include boundary violations or decades-old allegations of abuse."
Boundary violations are considered nonsexual, covering such behavior as a priest walking with his arm around a child, said J. Michael Hennigan, an attorney representing the archdiocese. Catholic officials in Boston and elsewhere have used the term interchangeably with child molestation, and the Los Angeles Archdiocese sent at least one priest to a residential treatment center for what was reported as a boundary violation.
Hennigan said the cardinal began dealing proactively with clergy sexual abuse on his arrival in the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1985. But Hennigan acknowledged that Mahony had been "overly optimistic" at first about the prospects for treating abusers through psychological therapy and made some "terrible mistakes" by ordering accused priests to counseling and then letting them back into the archdiocese.
"He ultimately got to the point where he is now, which we believe is one of the nation's leaders in how to deal with the problem on a large scale," Hennigan said.
On the Web
The Los Angeles Times has posted on its website a searchable database of records for 247 Los Angeles priests who have been accused of child molestation. The priests listed were either accused in civil lawsuits, named by the church or both.
The database was compiled from public records provided by the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the lawsuits and the Official Catholic Directory, an annual listing of U.S. clerics and their assignments.
By going to http://www.latimes.com/priests, readers can access the assignment histories for all the priests, the years and locations of abuse alleged in lawsuits, and edited summaries of their personnel files that were released publicly by the archdiocese and turned over to plaintiffs' counsel.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese in October publicly released edited summaries of priests' personnel files that it had turned over to plaintiffs' counsel as part of an effort to settle sexual abuse lawsuits. Church officials detailed some of the cases in a 2004 "Report to the People of God." But a Times analysis of the summaries found that the archdiocese provided incomplete information in the report for numerous cases in which priests remained in ministry after complaints came in during Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's tenure.
In these four cases, the People of God report described action taken against priests, but omitted some complaints:
In the following cases, the People of God report included little more than the priests' names in a list of those accused. The summaries show that the archdiocese allowed the men to continue as priests despite complaints of sexual misconduct made to the cardinal or his aides.
Kevin Barmasse: In 1983, after parents complained that Barmasse had sexually abused their son, Barmasse was sent to the Diocese of Tucson on condition that he get treatment there. He remained a Los Angeles priest while an associate pastor at three Arizona parishes. In 1991, a report came in that Barmasse had allegedly "made sexual advances toward five male high school students" in the mid-1980s. In 1992, Los Angeles church officials removed him from ministry in any diocese. [See People of God Report listing, PDF p. 28, no. 3; then see the File Summary for Barmasse]
Leland Boyer: A man reported to a church official in 1981 that Boyer had kissed him. In 1995, a second man said Boyer had sexually abused him a decade earlier when the accuser was about 13. Archdiocese officials restricted Boyer's ministry but allowed him to remain pastor emeritus at his parish, which had a school, until his death in 2004. [See People of God Report listing, PDF p. 28, no. 5; then see the File Summary for Boyer]
Michael Buckley: The subject of three earlier complaints of sexual misconduct with minors — including an allegation that he exposed himself to two brothers in 1959 — Buckley was the target of three more complaints after 1991. His priestly faculties were revoked in 1994. [See People of God Report listing, PDF p. 28, no. 7; then see the File Summary for Buckley]
Peter E. Garcia: In 1984, Garcia resigned as pastor of an L.A. parish and was placed on sick leave after a woman said that he "engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct" with her three nephews. Garcia was allowed to serve in two New Mexico parishes, with unspecified restrictions, while undergoing treatment at a center for predator priests. In 1987, the Los Angeles archdiocese told him "not to engage in any ministry." [See People of God Report listing, PDF p. 28, no. 32; then see the File Summary for Garcia]
Roderic M. Guerrini: Police in 1992 began investigating a report that Guerrini in the late 1970s had inappropriately touched and kissed a teenage girl working in the rectory of his Oxnard church. Her two sisters made similar complaints. Guerrini was referred to a therapist while continuing as pastor of a church in Venice. He denied the allegations and was never charged. He retired in 2002. [See People of God Report listing, PDF p. 29, no. 37; then see the File Summary for Guerrini]
Michael Stephen Nocita: Nocita was a high school principal in 1988 when police began investigating a therapist's report that a 23-year-old woman had disclosed that, as a teenager, she had had an "intimate" relationship with the priest. The next year, Nocita became associate pastor at a Los Angeles church. In 1991, he was placed on inactive leave. He was removed from ministry in 2000. [See People of God Report listing, PDF p. 29, no. 57; then see the File Summary for Nocita]
Joseph Pina: In 1990, Pina admitted a "past sexual interest in a minor." The girl's brother later reported that his sister was 16 when the alleged abuse began. In 1998, Pina was promoted to pastor at a Lynwood church. That same year, three women reported "boundary violations." Pina was placed on "sick leave" and never returned to ministry. [See People of God Report listing, PDF p. 29, no. 63; then see the File Summary for Pina.]
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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