LA Priest Accused of Sex Crimes Exiled to Ph
By Mico Letargo
January 25, 2013
Confidential records attached in a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles revealed how church officials attempted to keep silent about abuse allegations for decades, and maneuvered outside of the public eye to shield molester priests.
An in-depth report by the Associated Press revealed that one of the molester priests was exiled to the Philippines by archdiocese officials and was paid a ‘secret salary’ as well.
The exiled priest, along with six other clerics, were accused of having sex with a teen and impregnating her.
The lawsuit also implicated retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top church officials in the handling of the damage control campaign for the archdiocese, in attempts to keep parishioners uninformed of the abuses.
A top aide for Mahony was also cited in the lawsuit. He expressed dissent and criticized his superiors for covering up the allegations, instead of giving protection to the victims.
AP, quoting email correspondence with archdiocese attorney J. Michael Hennigan, pointed out that Mahony inherited some of the worst cases when he took over as Cardinal for Los Angeles in 1985.
According to Hennigan, abusive priests were sent to psychological treatment centers out of state because they tended to reveal more information to therapists who were not required by California law to report child abuse incidents to law enforcement.
During the late 1980s, clergymen were not mandated to report sex abuse cases and the church allowed the victims’ family to decide whether or not to report incidents to authorities, Hennigan said.
In one circumstance, a memo for Mahony was unearthed during the investigation and it discussed sending an erring priest to a therapist, who is also an attorney, so that any incriminating evidence would be protected under the lawyer-client privacy privilege.
Attorney Anthony De Marco said that personnel files on at least 13 clergymen were attached in the lawsuit, in an attempt to establish a cover-up pattern by the archdiocese.
As part of a $660 million settlement, the Archdiocese agreed to make public around 30,000 pages of evidence from the case.
In 2007, it consented to furnish copies of the files to the over 500 victims of clergy abuse, but an attorney for the priests fought to keep the records under wraps.
A recent ruling by a judge compelled the church to release the documents without blacking out the names of the church officials after some intervention from AP and the Los Angeles Times.
The aide, Msgr. Richard Loomis, upon his retirement in 2001 as vicar for the clergy, expressed his dismay over the handling of the matter.
“We’ve stepped back 20 years and are being driven by the need to cover-up and to keep the presbyteriate & public happily ignorant rather than the need to protect children,” Loomis wrote to his successor.
According to Hennigan, then Cardinal Mahony preferred to release targeted warnings to schools and youth groups rather than issuing a warning that would be read during holy masses. Hennigan told the AP that parish announcements were issued only later on.
On Monday, January 21, Maohony issued a statement of apology even while out of town. He apologized for his errors, and claimed that he had been “naive” on the lasting impact of abuse.
He confessed that he had been able to privately meet with 90 abuse victims and has since kept index cards with each victim’s name. The Cardinal said that he prays for these victims daily in his private chapel.
“But I also list in parenthesis the name of the clergy perpetrator lest I forget that real priests created this appalling harm in the lives of innocent young people,” Mahoney said in his statement.
“It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God’s grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life-journey continues forward, with even greater healing.”
(With reports from the Associated Press)