Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony Knowingly Kept Information from Police in Sex Abuse Case

Catholic Online
February 20, 2014

[with video]

The sex scandal has rattled Los Angeles. Saying he didn't want the altar boys to be scarred by the investigation - and saying that he felt the boys were too old to be potential victims, Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony knowingly kept information from investigators. According to a deposition made public this week, police asked for a list of altar boys at the last parish where a visiting priest from Mexico worked in 1988. Archbishop Mahony told a subordinate not to hand over the list.

The priest in question, Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, was accused in the sexual abuse of 26 altar boys.

The priest in question, Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, was accused in the sexual abuse of 26 altar boys. Detectives eventually got the names of the boys from parish families. According to the priest's confidential archdiocese file and police records since made public by attorneys for the victims, 25 of the alleged victims were altar boys. The 26th was training with the priest to be one.

Plaintiff Attorney Anthony DeMarco says it's not clear what impact Mahony's action had on the investigation, although at the time police complained that the archdiocese wasn't fully cooperating.

Mahony's deposition has been released and is part of the evidence included in a settlement of abuse claims against Aguilar Rivera and four other priests. The archdiocese, the nation's largest, agreed to pay $13 million to 17 victims.

The archdiocese, since 2006 has paid more than $700 million to settle clergy abuse lawsuits by hundreds of victims. Internal church files kept on priests accused of abuse were released last year under court order. Mahony, elevated to cardinal and retired in 2011, was shown to have maneuvered behind the scenes with his top aide, Monsignor Thomas Curry, to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners unaware.

Prosecutors say the cases fell outside the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of any church officials.

J. Michael Hennigan, an attorney with the archdiocese, said Mahony didn't reveal a list of altar boys, also called altar servers, to police because he didn't believe any of the alleged victims were among them. Mahony is in Rome and was unavailable for comment, Hennigan said.

"My recollection is at the time that memo was written there was no suggestion that altar servers were involved," the attorney said. He added that Mahony was "very vigorous" in trying to get Aguilar Rivera brought back to the U.S. for prosecution after he fled.

"What I know is there came a time when whatever the police wanted we gave them and it was shortly after this, but I don't know if the police ever reissued that request," he said of the list.

Aguilar Rivera had been accused in January 1988 by two families who told church officials that he had fondled their children and, in one instance, climbed into bed with a boy after drinking too much during a Christmas celebration at the family's home. He remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico.

Church files released last year show that Mahony ordered Curry to withhold the altar boy list from the LAPD.

In a Jan. 26, 1988, handwritten note on a memo about the police request for a list, Mahony wrote, "We cannot give such a list for no (sic) cause whatsoever."

Mahony, who turns 78 later this month, has largely retreated from the public eye since traveling to Rome last year for the papal conclave.








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