An Open Letter from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to the People of Santa Clarita Concerning Msgr. Richard Martini

The Tidings
April 12, 2010

Every person deserves the right to his or her good name, especially when they have been exonerated of one of the most heinous accusations that can be made against an individual today: sexual abuse of a young person.

That is why it is shocking that the Santa Clarita Signal Newspaper would choose to run a story April 7 concerning a single discredited allegation against an exemplary priest and future pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Monsignor Richard Martini, without first putting in the extra effort to get all the facts.

The reporter cites a single anonymous source for her story, who claims that school and church officials told parents to "keep mum" about the accusation against Monsignor Martini. But later in the story, the reporter seemingly contradicts her source by revealing that Our Lady of Perpetual Help School publicly posted information on its web page about the allegation, how it was investigated and the conclusion that was reached.

If the reporter had worked harder before publishing a story that severely tarnished this priest's good name, she also would have discovered that Our Lady of Perpetual Help School fully addressed the allegation involving Monsignor Martini in an open meeting with school parents within 24 hours of receiving a question about the allegation from another parent.

The fact is the allegation against Monsignor Martini was first reported publicly by the Archdiocese in 2004, as well as by the news media. There is not and never was any attempt to hide the fact that Monsignor Martini had been accused in a civil case.

The Archdiocese takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously, and we pray for the healing of all those impacted by such abuse. But not all allegations prove to be true. The investigation by a former FBI special agent and the Archdiocese's independent Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board found that the single allegation against Monsignor Martini was not credible, and was unsupported even by the accuser's own witnesses.

Monsignor Martini was never removed from ministry and has never had another allegation made against him in 31 years as a priest.

Finally, the Signal owes Monsignor Martini and the Catholic Community an apology for implying that he was criminally charged with abuse. The story wrongly states that he "was never convicted of the allegation." The fact is Monsignor Martini has never been charged with any crime whatsoever.

Monsignor Martini, with great reluctance, agreed to participate in the global financial settlement of civil cases in 2007. If he had chosen to fight the allegation against him in civil court, the entire settlement might not have gone forward, unnecessarily delaying the compensation for legitimate victims in other civil cases. Instead, like the good priest that he is, Monsignor Martini put others' welfare before his in agreeing to allow the discredited claim against him to be included in the global financial settlement.


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