Bishop Accountability

Mahony Resources – May 3–15, 2002

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In Search of aConfession
A CBS 2 Special Assignment Report

By Joel Grover
May 3, 2002 (Originally aired May 1, 2002, at 11 p.m.)

In a CBS 2 exclusive investigation, Joel Grover tracks down and confronts a priest who is being accused of molestation by eight alleged victims who say they were forced to have sex with him.

CBS 2 traveled thousands of miles to find this priest, who some say is in hiding.

Joel Grover: "Did you ever have sex with altar boys?

Priest: "No?"

JG: "You swear to God?"

Priest: "Yes, I do."

His name is Father Fidencio Silva. In the early 80s, he was priest at our Lady of Guadelupe Church in Oxnard, Calif., and he was in charge of the altar boys.

Joel Grover to the victims: "Were you all abused?"


They are now police officers, businessmen, a graduate student ...

They say that Father Silva molested them when they were boys, then suddenly he disappeared one day from their church.

But now, we've found him, 2000 miles away, in the tiny Mexican village of Jesus Maria, working as a priest.

We confronted him with the former altar boys' accusations.

JG: "Did you ever touch their private parts?"

Priest: "Not that I remember."

JG: "What do you mean you don't remember?"

Priest: "In the sense, I didn't, no. No I didn't."

Victim: "He had me drop my pants. He traced his finger around my circumcision scar."

Another victim: "He would massage my penis over and over again."

And they say it gets worse ...

JG to priest: "These boys say you had sex with them."

Priest: "No."

JG: "Oral sex?"

Priest: "No."

JG: "Anal sex?"

Priest: "No."

JG: "You swear to God?"

Priest: "I swear to God."

JG: "That's a lie."

Victim: "He masturbated me, had oral sex with me, sodomized me."

They say it happened in the church rectory, and on out-of-state trips.

Victim: "I went to his room to visit him, and he asked me to drop my pants, then he asked me to masturbate him."

And there's more ...

Joel Grover to the Father Silva: "Did you ever take photographs of these boys naked?"

Priest: "No."

JG: "You're positive?"

Priest: "Naked, you mean without any clothes?"

Victim: "He was going to paint a risen Christ and he needed to see some anatomy. He took pictures of my penis, and then he told me, 'Now I need to take pictures of an erect.'"

The more we spoke, the more Father Silva seemed to avoid our questions.

JG: "Did you ever touch the naked body of an altar boy?"

Priest: "What do you mean by naked?"

JG: "What do you mean?"

Priest: "No, what do you mean?"

In the end, Silva says the accusations are lies.

JG: "So why are these boys saying these things?"

Priest: "I don't know and that hurts me a lot to know this."

Finally, the Father asked us to go, leaving his alleged victims waiting for answers.

Victim: "I hate him for what he did to us. I hate him for what he did to me. I hate him because he took away my religion."

Thursday, the eight alleged victims sued Father Silva in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages. The suit also names Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The archiodiocese had no comment on the lawsuit.

However, a spokesman for the archdiocese tells us it was aware of a charge of sexual misconduct against Silva back in 1995. Father Silva's order, the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, tells us at the time, it sent him to counseling, and relocated him to Mexico.

Woman Seeks to Find Priest She Says Fathered Her Child
Abuse: Alleging she was impregnated by one of seven clerics, she asks for cardinal's help

By Beth Shuster
LA Times
May 7, 2002,1,545883.story

A woman who alleges that she was made pregnant at the age of 16 by one of seven Catholic priests who had sex with her 20 years ago said Monday that she wants Cardinal Roger M. Mahony to help her daughter identify which man is her father.

Rita Milla said she was sexually abused by Father Santiago Tamayo when she was attending St. Philomena Church in Carson. He allegedly introduced her to six other priests who she said also seduced her. When she became pregnant, she said, Tamayo sent her to the Philippines, telling her parents she was studying there. Instead, she secretly had the baby at Tamayo's brother's clinic.

Mahony, who was released from the hospital Sunday after being treated for blood clots in his lung, would not comment. But his spokesman, Tod Tamberg, said the cardinal would be very open to helping Milla identify the father of her daughter, who is 19. Tamberg said the archdiocese provided an annuity for the child when she was born, but does not know how much was paid to the family. Milla's parents learned of the child upon her return from the Philippines.

Tamberg said Mahony does not know where the accused priests are located, nor does he know whether they are still in the priesthood. Milla said she believes at least two of the men are dead.

In 1984, Milla filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles archdiocese alleging fraud, clergy malpractice and conspiracy. Her attorney, Gloria Allred, said the day the lawsuit was filed that "all seven priests seemed to disappear from their parish offices." Allred said she lost the lawsuit in the state Court of Appeal because the statute of limitations had expired.

In March 1991, Tamayo apologized face-to-face to Milla, telling a news conference that he "had to go public and tell the whole truth. I knew that cheap absolution would not undo the evil of the past. I had her full trust and confidence, yet I got sexually involved with Rita.

"Weakened by the sense of my own sins, I failed as a pastor to rescue her from getting involved with the other priests."

Tamayo has since died.

Allred said she recently obtained letters that show Mahony was paying Tamayo to remain in the Philippines for years after the baby was born. Those letters were cited in a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed last week alleging sexual abuse by another Los Angeles archdiocese priest.

In an August 1988 letter, then-Msgr. Thomas Curry told Tamayo he was surprised to learn the priest was staying in the Los Angeles area. The archdiocese "initiated salary payments to assist you while you were pursuing the possibility of permanent settlement in the Philippines," Curry wrote, saying that Tamayo was a liability to himself, his family and the church. Copies of the letters were also sent to Mahony.

Allred said these letters indicated "a cover-up encouraged and financed by the church in order to protect itself with callous disregard for the rights of the victims."

The payments were made public in 1991.

Tamberg acknowledged that the church paid Tamayo while he was in Asia but said it was a salary, not payments to keep the scandal quiet. "I don't see how that's a cover-up--telling someone to stay away because of the liability they could cause by coming back here," Tamberg said.

Milla's daughter, Jacqueline Milla, spoke in tears before television cameras at a news conference Monday in Allred's law office.

"I understand that my biological father is a priest and that it is uncertain who out of several priests he may be," she said. "I have recently seen evidence that Cardinal Mahony knew of the whereabouts of at least one of the priests. I am now asking that he reveal where I may find my biological father.... Cardinal Mahony, please return my father to me."

Rita Milla appealed to Mahony to treat her daughter "with more compassion and truth than they had for me."

She said she only recently told her daughter about the priests' abuse.

"I never let her go to church--I didn't think it was a safe place," Milla said.

The Los Angeles archdiocese, like many others around the country, is facing lawsuits over allegations of past sexual abuse by priests.

An Apology to 'My Brother Priests'

By Roger M. Mahony
LA Times
May 16, 2002

May 14, 2002

My Brother Priests:

We have all been overwhelmed for many weeks now with the constant publicity highlighting the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests all across the country. These news reports have been very distressing for us all, but these reports have helped us turn our prayers and our focus to reaching out to the victims with all available spiritual and pastoral assistance.

It is quite likely that very soon the public media will highlight the case of Michael Baker, a former priest of this archdiocese. You need to be aware that such a story could come anytime now, and you need to be aware of the seriousness of his case.

Sometime in late 1986, Baker disclosed to me that he had problems in the past of acting out sexually with two minors.

Baker was sent to a treatment center for evaluation and recommendation for his future. Following treatment, it was decided that he could do specialized priestly ministry not related to children and youth. He was subsequently given various ministries, such as special outreach to our retired priests. All during this time, we had no reports of abuse.

Early in the year 2000 we learned that two men in Arizona were preparing to sue Baker for past sexual abuse. Once we became aware of that situation, he was removed immediately from all priestly ministry in accordance with the policy in effect at that time. Baker agreed to petition the Holy See for laicization, which was granted shortly thereafter. We have now learned that further allegations are being made against Baker.

As your archbishop, I assume full responsibility for allowing Baker to remain in any type of ministry during the 1990s. If I had known in those years what I discovered in early 2000, I would have dismissed him from all ministry and requested his dismissal from the priesthood in the late 1980s.

I offer my sincere, personal apologies for my failure to take firm and decisive action much earlier. If I have caused you or your parishioners additional grief by my handling of the Baker case, I ask your forgiveness.

Such situations illustrate vividly and clearly the reason why our archdiocese now has firmly in place a "zero tolerance" policy--past, present and future. No one who has been determined to have sexually abused a minor can be allowed to serve in any ministry in the church.

I ask your continued prayers as we move through this time of purification.

Fraternally yours in Christ,

His Eminence

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles



Bishop Accountability © 2003