and Reluctant Revelation in the Los Angeles Archdiocese
The Example of the Rev. Lynn Caffoe File
In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under Cardinal Roger Mahony, claims of transparency and complete openness have gone hand-in-hand with secrecy, partial releases of information, and steadfast refusal to open the files. The Rev. Lynn Caffoe is a case in point.
On this page, we first describe the evolution of the public's knowledge about the Caffoe allegations. Then we provide the archdiocesan reports themselves, color-coded to show what was missing at various stages.
The public at large first learned that Caffoe was an accused priest when the Los Angeles Times published a major Sunday report, Archdiocese for Years Kept Allegations of Abuse from Police, by Glenn F. Bunting, Ralph Frammolino, and Richard Winton, on August 18, 2002. Ten years after Caffoe had been placed on inactive leave in 1992 because of abuse allegations, the public finally learned that Caffoe had been accused and removed. The Times reported a single allegation against Caffoe. That was by no means the whole story.
The archdiocese posted its Report to the People of God in February 2004. Many dioceses published similar reports, as part of the USCCB-sponsored study of the abuse crisis by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In the Report to the People of God, the number of Caffoe's accusers was raised to three, and a brief paragraph described two of the allegations. An enclosed letter over Mahony's signature described the report as the "fullest possible disclosure."
But in October-November 2005, the archdiocese released an Addendum to the Report to the People of God. The Addendum provided "underlying information" prepared by the archdiocese's lawyers from descriptions (so-called proffers) of the archdiocesan files that the court had verified were "complete and accurate." The Addendum was intended to further the Archdiocese's "commitment to speak honestly and openly."
Both the 2004 Report and the 2005 Addendum were based on the same archdiocesan files, but the Addendum painted a very different picture of the Caffoe allegations. Now the archdiocese counted not three but at least 15 accusers, and described many allegations not included in the previous year's Report. Some of the discrepancies between the Report and the Addendum were detailed by the Los Angeles Times in Details on 11 Priests Missing in '04 Report: Mahony's Disclosure on Sex Abuse Claims Left out Information on Clerics Who Stayed in Ministry, by Jean Guccione and William Lobdell, on April 20, 2006.
But then the Los Angeles Times reported on Caffoe litigation in Mahony Accounts of Abuse Case Tape Differ: Plaintiffs Say He Gave the Vatican a Graver Version of Priest's Role Than He Gave the Public, by John Spano, on March 20, 2007, and the archdiocese replied. The Spano article provided the public with its first quotations from actual documents in the much-contested Caffoe file. When these quotations were compared with the paraphrases in the 2005 Addendum, it became clear that the Addendum had not represented the Caffoe file accurately. "Partially naked" boys in a letter from Mahony to Cardinal Ratzinger requesting Caffoe's laicization became "fully clothed" in the Addendum. "Criminal behavior" in the Ratzinger letter was referred to as "no sexual activity." Hugging and fondling had been rendered in the Addendum as "inappropriate behavior." And so forth.
Below we reproduce: 1) the Caffoe-related portions of the 2004 Report to the People of God, 2) the Caffoe-related portions of the 2005 Addendum to the Report, and 3) the 2007 article on the Caffoe litigation. The color-coding shows the discrepancies:
A) The Report counted 3 Caffoe accusers. The Addendum described at least 15. These totals are marked with blue lines.
B) The Report's brief descriptions of a few Caffoe allegations are underlined in green, as are the corresponding passages in the Addendum. The additional descriptions of allegations in the Addendum are underlined in red. These allegations were not included in the original Report.
C) The Addendum purported to describe documents from the Caffoe file. But the Addendum's descriptions of abuse-related documents from the file are not consistent with the quotations from those documents in the Caffoe litigation. A purple line marks the entries in the Addendum and the comparable quotations in the Los Angeles Times article about the litigation, and a bold number allows you to match the entry with the quotation.
For other problems with the Addendum, see our brief essay with links: How Complete Are the Personnel Summaries in the Addendum?
1) REPORT TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD:
2) ADDENDUM TO THE REPORT: CAFFOE
3) DOCUMENTS FROM ARCHDIOCESAN FILES: CAFFOE ALLEGATIONS
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