More Church Abuse Scandal Files Released by 5 Catholic Religious Orders
By Barbara Jones and Susan Abram
Contra Costa Times
July 31, 2013
[the files - Law Offices of Raymond Boucher]
Five Catholic religious orders released the confidential personnel files of a dozen priests and nuns accused of sexually abusing children for decades as they worked as trusted religious leaders in the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
The 1,700 pages pertain to the 10 priests and two nuns who were accused in civil suits of molesting children while working in the nation's largest archdiocese. They were released under the terms of a 2007 settlement that paid $660 million to more than 500 alleged victims.
The archdiocese itself released thousands of pages in January -- detailed files showing how now-retired Archbishop Roger Mahony and other church leaders handled molestation complaints by shielding suspect priests from law enforcement.
In contrast, most of the files released by the religious orders deal more with mundane personnel matters, and some don't even mention sexual abuse at all.
The fact that the files don't reflect the misconduct alleged in civil lawsuits doesn't mean it didn't happen, said victims' attorney Ray Boucher, who posted the documents on his firm's website.
"Much of this went unreported," he said. "You're talking about kids that were terrorized and frightened in so many different ways, with no place and no one to turn to."
But Joelle Casteix, western regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said she was troubled by the differences in the two sets of files.
"We're not seeing the depth of detail," she said. "It's either that they didn't keep the records or they disposed of them or not all of them have been turned over."
"But it's a good first step. At least it's something. It's enough to invigorate the victims to keep fighting."
J. Michael Hennigan, the attorney for the archdiocese, did not return phone calls.
The clergy whose files were released have been accused of molesting a total of 21 victims from the 1950s to the '80s. Several of those suspects are now deceased.
The files include more than 500 pages on a priest named Ruben D. Martinez, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The church settled eight lawsuits accusing him of molesting boys from 1970-82 at St. Ferdinand Catholic Church in San Fernando, Holy Family in Wilmington and Mary Immaculate in Pacoima.
While there's little documentation about the alleged abuse, there are hundreds of pages of invoices and psychiatric reports from the years his order spent trying to cure him of his pedophilia, including time spent at a New Mexico retreat for abusive clergy.
After years of therapy, one report said he was participating in Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, which helped him deal with "his deviant arousal to children and his urges for sex with adult male hustlers." Another report said Martinez estimated he'd had sex with about 100 boys.
The Oblates released the files on four other priests, including Robert Koerner. He was assigned to several churches in the East San Fernando Valley in the early 1940s. He later was transferred to St. Patrick's Church in the Imperial County town of Calipatria, where the files indicate he was accused of molesting several youngsters.
The file said that Koerner, who died in 1999, admitted fondling and kissing both boys and girls but didn't see any harm in his actions.
Emmett Schaller, also a member the Oblate order, was named in a civil suit accusing him of molesting a boy at St. Ferdinand's. His file also indicates he received extensive treatment in which he admitted that he'd been in trouble because of his sexual behavior.
Joseph Murphy, another Oblate priest assigned to St. Ferdinand's, was also accused of abuse between 1957-1960. His file includes correspondence about his missionary work but makes no mention of any alleged misconduct.
The file for Mathias Faue, a Benedictine father, includes a 1985 letter from a superior telling him, "You clearly have a problem" and encouraging him to seek help after he was accused of inappropriately touching boys on a playground. Faue also was arrested for lewd conduct in an X-rated movie theater in Long Beach and later pleaded guilty to trespassing.
Faue was named in two civil suits accusing him of molesting children at St. Benedict Church in Montebello between 1963-68. He died in 1988.
Among the five who served within the Marianist Order, two had worked at Chaminade High School's two campuses in the San Fernando Valley, where allegations arose. The three others had worked as instructors at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena.
In 2002, a woman accused priest Thomas Havel of molesting her from 1968-73 while he was assigned at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Pasadena. He also had been assigned to St. Bernardine parish in Woodland Hills, and at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena. Havel eventually left the priesthood and the Marianist Order settled the case, according to the files.
Allegations were levied in 2003 against Joseph DiPeri, saying he'd molested a student at Chaminade High School in Canoga Park in 1977-78, The campus dean was informed at the time, but no action was taken.
"There was no mandatory reporting at the time of the alleged incident," says a letter from an LAPD detective in DiPeri's file.
DiPeri removed himself from the priesthood and the last known information indicates he was in a retirement home for priests in New Jersey and was on a "permanent monitoring system" with the archdiocese there.
But Charles George Fatooh, currently a monsignor at the Monterey Archdiocese, became principal of Chaminade on the Chatsworth campus in 1979. He was voted Teacher of the Year in 1975. In 2006, Chaminade was served with a copy of a complaint for damages related to alleged sexual abuse by Fatooh during the 1973-74 school year.
Most recently, Fatooh was accused of failing to alert police or providing help to a boy who was being molested by another priest he knew in Salinas in 1991.
Two others -- John McGloin and Bernard Pleimann -- were accused of sexual misconduct while they taught at Juniper Serra, but it was unclear when the alleged abuse occurred.
In one letter, top-ranking clergy said McGloin had relationships with nuns. In a letter requesting dispensation from the priesthood in 1969, McGloin wrote: "I am convinced that a life of celibacy which I once embraced is beyond me. ... You know me well -- I've had this problem in varying degrees since my profession." The files don't specify allegations of child abuse.
Pleimann requested dispensation from the priesthood, but was denied the first time. In a letter written in 1973, he wrote: "I am afraid if I remain in the Society any longer I will become a bitter man."
Also among the files were two sparse documents listing Sister Agnes Santomassimo of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who briefly served as a kindergarten teacher from 1950. She later worked in various hospitals in New York Illinois and Canada in various position from 1950 to 1969. She was a provincial office secretary from 1969 to 2002. While her files were released as part of the group, they don't specify the allegations against her.
Another nun, Sister Mary Joseph, who belonged to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, was accused of misconduct after her death, but the order found nothing to substantiate the claims, said Sister Barbara Anne Stowasser, a spokeswoman for the order. Among her assignments, Sister Mary Joseph taught third grade at Our Lady of the Valley in Canoga Park in 1961.
Several dozen more files are expected to be released this fall by other orders that had clergy working in Los Angeles.