Suits Target 17 Area Priests

Pasadena Star-News [California]
Downloaded November 24, 2003

Two lawsuits were filed Friday accusing 17 Roman Catholic priests of molesting several children over a 40-year period while the Archdiocese of Los Angeles allegedly helped cover it up.

Nine victims were allegedly molested in parishes in Pasadena, Azusa, Covina, El Monte, La Canada, San Gabriel, San Marino and Pomona.

The suits seek unspecified monetary damages.

The lawsuits were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by Beverly Hills attorney Raymond P. Boucher, who represents some 200 people who have made administrative claims against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and other California Roman Catholic organizations.

Those cases have been consolidated with lawsuits filed against the dioceses of San Diego, Santa Barbara and San Bernardino County for the purposes of streamlining mediation and settlement talks.

Orange County lawsuits have split off and are being handled by an Orange County judge.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles takes Friday's lawsuits "very seriously,' the archdiocese's Tod Tamberg said.

"We have in place procedures and policies to help ensure that children are protected and that abusers are permanently removed from ministries,' Tamberg said. "Our objective is to deal with these cases in mediation and reach a fair and equitable resolution, and then to promote healing for the victims.'

One of the two lawsuits names 16 priests, including two - Richard Allen Henry and Lawrence Lovell - who have been criminally convicted of molesting children.

That suit was filed on behalf of 14 men and two women, some of whom are not identified, who were allegedly abused as minors from 1943-91 by priests.

The local cases include:

A boy allegedly molested from 1963 to 1967 by Albert Duggan, who was assigned to St. Frances of Rome in Azusa at the time;

A girl allegedly molested in 1955 by George Gunst in El Monte. Gunst was a priest at Nativity and at Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1955;

A boy allegedly molested from 1979 to 1980 in Covina by Theodore Llanos, who worked at St. Louise de Marillac in Covina;

Llanos, who was assigned to six parishes, was suspected of molesting dozens of boys over a 20-year period. In 1996, a judge dismissed 38 felony counts against him after finding that a 1994 law removing the statue of limitations on sexual-abuse charges couldn't be applied retroactively to the alleged crimes. LLanos committed suicide in 1996.

A boy allegedly molested in 1980 in San Gabriel by Lawrence Lovell, who was a priest at the San Gabriel Mission.

Molestation charges against Lowell were dropped in July following a Supreme Court ruling that the government cannot retroactively erase statutes of limitations. Prosecutors alleged that four youths were molested by Lovell when he was a youth pastor supervising altar boys in San Gabriel.

Lowell has a prior conviction 17 years ago for molesting a boy at the mission. He pleaded no contest to one count of child molestation and received three years probation. A grand jury in Arizona has also indicted him for child molestation;

A boy allegedly molested from 1973 to 1974 by John Kohnke, who worked at St. Felicitas and Perpetua in San Marino and at St. Luke's Hospital in Pasadena;

A boy allegedly molested from 1977 to 1978 and a second boy allegedly molested from 1978 to 1980 in La Canada Flintridge by Christopher Kearney, who worked at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge. He left the archdiocese in 2002;

A girl allegedly molested by Patrick Cotter from 1963 to 1964 in Pomona. Cotter was assigned to St. Joseph in Pomona in the early 1960s. Cotter retired in 1975;

A boy allegedly molested from 1969 to 1970 by Thomas English, who served at St. Joseph in Pomona.

The other lawsuit names former Rev. Michael Baker, who served at parishes in La Mirada and Pico Rivera and who quit the priesthood in 2000.

Earlier this year, Baker had been charged by prosecutors in Los Angeles with 34 counts of sexual misconduct with a child.

But the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office dismissed all charges against Baker in July, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a California law that allowed prosecutors to file charges in decades-old sexual abuse cases involving children.


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