Details on 11 Priests Missing
in '04 Report
Mahony's Disclosure on Sex Abuse Claims Left out
Information on Clerics Who Stayed in Ministry
By Jean Guccione and William Lobdell
Los Angeles Times
April 20, 2006
[In the following article, links to Mahony's 2004 "Report to the
People of God" and to his 2005 File Summaries have been added by
BishopAccountability.org. At the end of this article, the LA Times has
provided a useful summary of the documents
that its reporters examined on Caffoe,
Nocita, and Pina.
The main article also discusses in detail Boyer,
and Pina. It is difficult to visualize
the documents discussed in this article. See our sample discussion
of the Caffoe file, with color-coded portions of the archdiocesan
Report and Addendum.]
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 a Times analysis of church records released since then shows
that he left 11 other priests in ministry for periods up to 13 years after
parishioners raised concerns about inappropriate behavior with children.
Seven of these 11 cases were not detailed in the People of God report.
The other four were mentioned incompletely; the report said they were
removed when complaints were lodged but did not disclose that the Los
Angeles Archdiocese had received earlier reports of misconduct.
The Times analyzed edited summaries of personnel records
written and posted on a public website by the archdiocese in October.
The summaries were first given to counsel for more than 500 plaintiffs
suing the church over alleged sexual abuse by priests. The archdiocese
and the plaintiffs are engaged in court-ordered mediation.
One of the 11 cases involves the late Msgr.
Leland Boyer, whose publicly released file summary revealed that
three allegations of child molestation had been lodged against him. One
of his alleged victims, Jaime Romo, said archdiocesan officials had assured
him in 2002 that he was Boyer's only accuser. Romo, in an interview, said
he was enraged when he saw that Boyer's file summary included two other
allegations of sexual misconduct, in 1981 and 1995. [See the File
Summary for Boyer.]
"I would still like to believe, 'Oh, my gosh, somehow it was an oversight,'
" said Romo, 46, a professor at the University of San Diego. "It
is deeply saddening for me to know [that] so many situations were maintained
that put people at risk."
Mahony has fought to keep from releasing full personnel files either to
prosecutors or plaintiffs' lawyers in the civil cases. On Monday, however,
the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a California appellate court ruling requiring
him to hand over to prosecutors the files of two priests who are under
Legal experts have said the high court's refusal to hear Mahony's appeal
increases the likelihood that the Los Angeles church may soon have to
hand over many more confidential documents in the civil cases.
In a letter accompanying the 2004 People of God report, Mahony said the
report provided the "fullest possible disclosure" of how the
church responded to allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the decades
before he arrived in 1985 and since. [See People
of God Report, PDF p. 2, para. 4.]
Mahony declined to be interviewed for this article. His spokesman, Tod
Tamberg, said the People of God report was not meant to be encyclopedic,
but "represented some of our most egregious cases and provided a
look into the range of responses over time." Mahony never knowingly
concealed information about his oversight of predatory priests, Tamberg
But The Times' analysis found that although the report included
detailed accounts of mistakes involving Michael Baker, Gerald Fessard,
Carlos Rodriguez, Carl Sutphin and Michael Wempe — priests whose
alleged sexual misconduct had already been written about in The Times
— it left out or abridged details of other potentially embarrassing
cases that had not been widely publicized. [See the detailed reports in
of God Report. Baker is discussed on PDF pp. 21-22; Fessard, Rodriquez,
Sutphin, and Wempe are discussed on p. 22-23.]
One abridged story involves Father Lynn Caffoe.
The report said the archdiocese sent Caffoe to residential treatment in
1991 on the recommendation of a therapist after three families had complained
that he had been "overly familiar with their teenage sons."
He was then put on inactive leave. [See People
of God Report, PDF p. 23-24, sec. D; Caffoe is also listed on PDF
p. 28, no. 8.]
In 1994, while Caffoe was still out of ministry, a high school boy alleged
that the priest had abused him, according to the report. The information
was forwarded to child-protection authorities, and Caffoe never returned
to ministry, the report said.
The report did not mention that three other complaints came in during
Mahony's tenure before action was taken — the first in 1986, five
years before Caffoe was removed. It also does not mention that the archdiocese
waited more than a month after the families complained to restrict Caffoe's
ministry — and did so only after the priest's therapist reported
the suspected child abuse to law enforcement, according to his personnel
file summary. Two months later, the priest was living at a Long Beach
parish "on sabbatical." [See the File
Summary for Caffoe.]
Another priest whose record is abbreviated in the
report is Richard Henry. The report stated that he was
removed from ministry in 1991 after he pleaded no contest to four counts
of lewd conduct with a child under 14. [See People
of God Report, PDF p. 23, sec. D; Henry is also listed on PDF p. 29,
His case is labeled as one in which the church intervened quickly. But
Henry's summary shows four pre-1991 complaints against him — the
first in 1980, when a parishioner passed on a rumor that Henry had a boy
"living in his house" every weekend. The other three were made
in 1988, during Mahony's tenure: A layperson reported that the priest
"grabs little boys and hugs them," a nun said he "favors
boys over girls," and a pastor said Henry was spending too much time
alone with a boy. [See the File
Summary for Henry.]
The summary of Henry's personnel file shows that in response to those
1988 complaints, the archdiocese put Henry into psychotherapy and warned
him to be mindful of "appropriate boundaries" with minors, but
left him in ministry in his Paramount parish.
Two men have filed suit alleging that Henry abused them on Mahony's watch.
In describing his response to sexual abuse allegations, Mahony has said
he and other bishops initially believed molesting priests could be cured
through therapy. He said that his approach changed over time, and that
he established a zero-tolerance policy in 1992 for abusive clergy.
"It was very clear from '92 on, there was only one course of action
and that was, these guys had to go," Mahony told The Times
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.
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,"
"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.
COMPARING THE DOCUMENTS
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:
|People of God report:
In 1991, three families complained the priest was "overly familiar
with their teenage sons." The allegation did not involve "any
actual sexual molestation," but the archdiocese immediately sent
Caffoe to residential treatment and barred him from ministry. [See
of God Report, PDF p. 23, sec. D; Caffoe is also listed on PDF
p. 28, no. 8]
Three previous complaints had been lodged against Caffoe during Mahony's
tenure: by a nun in 1986 who reported a "boundary violation,"
by an anonymous caller who complained of "inappropriate behavior"
involving two boys in 1989, and by a pastor and school principal in
1991 who told church officials of "various boundary violations."
Caffoe lived at a parish after his treatment and was placed on inactive
leave in 1992 after priests found a videotape in his room of "improper
behavior" with several "fully clothed" high school
boys. [See the File
Summary for Caffoe]
|People of God report:
The archdiocese removed Henry from ministry in 1991 after he pleaded
no contest to four counts of lewd conduct with a child under 14. [See
of God Report, PDF p. 23, sec. D; Henry is also listed on PDF
p. 29, no. 42]
In 1980, a parishioner reported that the priest had a boy "living
in his house" every weekend. In 1988, three additional complaints
came in, from a pastor, a nun and a parishioner who said Henry "grabs
little boys and hugs them." The priest was sent to therapy. [See
Summary for Henry]
|People of God report:
Miller was accused in 1977 of molesting a 10-year-old. Church leaders
treated the accusation as "a warning." They removed Miller
from ministry in 1996 after another complaint of decades-old abuse.
of God Report, PDF p. 20, sec. A; Miller is also listed on PDF
p. 29, no. 56]
In 1981, Miller was promoted to pastor of his own parish. By 1984,
he had been demoted to associate pastor of another parish. In 1989,
the pastor at Miller's parish reported the priest had committed "boundary
violations" with minors. [See the File
Summary for Miller]
|People of God report:
Rucker was one of the few priests in ministry who had "confirmed
prior allegations" of child molestation when Mahony arrived in
1985. The priest retired in 1987. The archdiocese received just one
more complaint about Rucker, dating from the 1960s, until more alleged
victims began coming forward in 2002. [See People
of God Report, PDF p. 20, sec. A; Rucker is also listed on PDF
p. 30, no. 69]
Retired in 1987, Rucker lived without restrictions at a parish with
an elementary school. One person in 1989 and two people in 1990 alleged
past "inappropriate conduct" by Rucker. The priest "settled"
with one of his accusers. In 1994, a fourth alleged victim filed a
suit that was dismissed later that year. In 2002, Rucker was barred
from public ministry. [See the File
Summary for Rucker]
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.]