LOS ANGELES (CA)
Los Angeles Times
A trove of confidential church files detailing how the Los Angeles archdiocese dealt with priests accused of molestation must be released “as soon as possible” and include the names of Cardinal Roger Mahony and his aides, a judge ruled Thursday.
In a written order, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias gave the church a Feb. 22 deadline to turn over about 30,000 pages of internal memos, psychiatric reports, Vatican correspondence and other documents.
“Let’s just get it done,” Elias said in court Thursday.
Her order brought to a close five and a half years of legal wrangling and delays and set the stage for a raft of new and almost certainly embarrassing revelations about the church’s handling of pedophile priests. A small portion of the files were made public in a civil case last week and showed that in the 1980s Mahony and a top aide discussed methods for concealing abuse from police, including giving molesters out-of-state assignments.
The files Elias ordered released are the final piece of a landmark 2007 settlement between the archdiocese and about 500 people who said clergy abused them. As part of that $660-million settlement, the archdiocese agreed to hand over the personnel files of accused abusers. Victims said the files would provide accountability for church leaders who let pedophiles remain in the ministry; law enforcement officials said the records would be important investigative tools.
But the release was delayed for years by appeals and the painstaking process of reading and redacting 89 files, some hundreds of pages long. A private mediator in 2011 ordered the church to black out the names of victims and archdiocese employees not accused of abuse, saying he wanted to avoid “guilt by association.”
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