|O.C. Chaplain Cited in Pedophile Documents
By Frank Mickadeit
Orange County Register
October 28, 2010
When the Catholic Diocese of San Diego last Friday released 10,000 pages of documents relating to priest-molestation cases – considered the most significant release of such documents in the U.S. in at least seven years – Orange County victims-rights activist Joelle Casteix knew she had a long weekend ahead of her. Was there anything in the documents from the neighboring diocese about Orange County priest abuse heretofore unreported?
There was. The documents show that one of the Orange County-based priests whose name had been made public in 2005 in relation to molestation allegations at St. Cecelia's in Tustin had also been the chaplain at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. The new information released over the weekend gave more detail than that reported in 2005 – in fact, it may involve an entirely separate case than first reported five years ago.
The priest, Edito D. Amora , (spelled in some documents as D'Amora), was a Navy lieutenant in the chaplaincy service stationed at El Toro from 1990 to perhaps as late as1993. He lived in an apartment on Los Alisos Boulevard in Lake Forest and ministered to Marines and their families at both the El Toro and Tustin air bases. Prior to that, he'd been stationed at bases in San Diego and 29 Palms.
The first 285 pages of his 291-page San Diego file contains positive reports about his performance – "a fine chaplain and an adequate Navy officer. ... an asset to this command," one says.
It's not until page 286 that there is sign of trouble. A copy of a phone message apparently written in 2001 by a secretary at the San Diego diocese to her superior has the name of a male caller and his phone number. The message: "His daughter attends Bonita Vista H.S. Her counselor said to call diocese to discuss incidents w/priest."
Subsequent documents in the file indicate that eight years prior, when the girl was 10, Amora had molested her on two occasions while visiting her home. Amora apparently owned the home and was renting it to the girl's parents. Based on the timeline indicated by the documents, Amora molested the girl either during the period he was stationed in Orange County or shortly thereafter.
While the father apparently also notified San Diego County authorities, it is unclear whether Amora was ever charged with a crime. By virtue of his file being among those released by the San Diego diocese, however, it is clear his was one of the cases the diocese settled. The documents were released as part of a $200 million settlement San Diego reached with 144 victims. Amora was one of 48 priests named in the 10,000 pages.
The San Diego documents were released after a review by a judge, but 2,000 more pages remain to be released, and could answer some of the questions that remain outstanding about Amora, such as: Whether the case outlined in the San Diego documents is the same one the Orange County diocese paid out on; whether there are other victims, and where Amora is now. The San Diego diocese is fighting the documents' release on the ground they contain lawyer-client and other privileged communication.
The Register, relying on court documents, in 2005 listed Amora among the priests and lay people the Orange diocese paid out a total of $100 million in settlements on. Individually, Amora's O.C. case settled for $1.42 million.
Casteix asks: If the San Diego and Orange cases were not separate and thus represented more than one victim, why would Orange and San Diego have each paid claims? Of course, each diocese could have contributed to a single settlement. An information request I made to the Orange diocese for clarification on Monday was still pending as of Wednesday evening.
Perhaps more importantly , there's no indication that Amora, 55, is out of the priesthood. His official home diocese of Dipolog in the Philippines – where he was ordained in 1980 – still lists him as attached to the Navy. However, a Navy spokesman in San Diego said told me this week he could find no record of him currently on active duty anywhere.
Casteix, who has tracked priest-molestation cases for years, isn't surprised Amora has all but disappeared.
"These guys are impossible to find."
Mickadeit writes Mon.-Fri. Contact him at 714-796-4994 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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