Roger Mahony, Other Officials Tried to Cover up Church Sex Abuse, According to New Docs
By Kelly Goff
Los Angeles Daily News
February 19, 2014
documents via Jeff Anderson & Associates:
[The Punitive Damages Motion Aguilar-Rivera]
[LA Documents 2-19-14]
[Los Angeles Archdiocese child sexual abuse timeline]
[Offender Bios - Aguilar-Rivera et al]
|Esther Miller, a past victim of clergy abuse listens during a news conference announcing a $13 million settlement of behalf of 17 survivors who were sexually abused by five different perpetrators in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. Former Archbishop Roger Mahony's deposition was obtained by The Associated Press and is part of the evidence included in a settlement of abuse claims against Aguilar Rivera and four other priests. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) |
High-ranking members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles were aware that a visiting Roman Catholic priest had been accused of molesting boys at two local parishes and gave him time to flee the country in 1988, attorneys for several of his alleged victims said Wednesday.
Eleven of the 26 boys allegedly abused by Father Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera during a nine-month stay in the United States are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that settled last week for $13 million on the eve of a civil trial.
According to the victims’ attorneys, church officials up to and including then-Archbishop Roger Mahony also actively tried to block police investigation into the accusations by withholding a list of names of altar boys at the church where Aguilar-Rivera was living. Twenty-five of the 26 boys who accused Aguilar-Rivera were later found to be altar boys.
Court and church documents related to the case — as well as Mahony’s first deposition since the abuse scandal unfolded — paint a picture of the shuffling of Aguilar-Rivera between two countries and several churches to evade a stream of abuse accusations.
In the deposition, Mahony denies he was complicit in Aguilar-Rivera fleeing the country to avoid prosecution and denies that he or his aides did anything improper in their handling of the accusations.
“Cardinal Mahony still cannot acknowledge that facilitating the flight of a pedophile priest was wrong,” said Tony DeMarco, the victim’s attorney who took Mahony’s deposition. “Even though there were eyewitnesses to the abuse. At least one pastor witnessed the abuse.”
According to court documents, parents of two boys reported possible abuse at the hands of Aguilar-Rivera to a nun who was a teacher at Our Lady of Guadalupe school on Friday, Jan. 9, 1988, as well as the pastor at the affiliated church. Instead of turning to police, the pastor turned to the church hierarchy, who advised him to delay reporting the accusations to police.
Then-Monsignor Thomas Curry visited Aguilar-Rivera the next morning to tell him he was in trouble, and by that afternoon Aguilar-Rivera was in Tijuana, Mexico, beyond the reach of local authorities. He remained on the active church rolls as a priest in Mexico until 2006 and remains a fugitive. Accusations of child sexual assault against Aguilar-Rivera date back to the 1970s in several Mexican cities as well as in the U.S.
After a criminal investigation began, Los Angeles Police Department investigators were highly vocal about the archdiocese’s lack of cooperation. The church also quickly moved in to offer counseling to the alleged victims and failed to inform them of their right to pursue civil litigation.
“The archdiocese has engaged in a pattern of pacifying victims by offering therapy and lying to families about the abuse,” DeMarco said.
In addition to the 11 alleged victims of Aguilar-Rivera, six other victims were part of the current lawsuit. Those six were targeted by four other priests. The Rev. Michael Steven Nocita is accused of abusing four girls during his tenure at high schools including Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance and Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills. Former teacher John Malburg was convicted in 2009 of child sexual abuse and is serving an eight-year sentence in state prison. The Rev. George Miller allegedly abused victims during his 35-year tenure at parishes from Oxnard to Pacoima. Rene Valmonte, who worked at a parish in Carson and was convicted of child sex abuse, died in prison.
The archdiocese has already paid more than $700 million to sexual-assault victims in recent years. Jeff Anderson, also an attorney for the victims in the most recent lawsuit, said the desire to keep Mahony’s role out of court spurred the settlement.
“It settled because the archdiocese did not want more attention around this sad and sordid history,” he said.
The archdiocese disagreed and said in a statement that the settlement is reflective of its desire to offer support to victims of sexual abuse within the church.
“We continue to pray earnestly for all victims and their families so that they may find emotional and spiritual healing,” the statement said. “We also reiterate our firm commitment to the protection of our young people.”
Mahony retired in 2011 as a cardinal and was relieved of all public and administrative duties by his successor Archbishop Jose Gomez in 2013 in the wake of the sex abuse scandal. Mahony continues to participate in Mass and is active in behind-the-scenes politics.
Victims rights advocates say this is an indication that despite the payouts, the church has not purged itself of the sex abuse scandal.