|Former Torrance Priest Convicted of Sexual Molestation in England
By Melissa Evans
October 22, 2010
A former Catholic priest who served at a Torrance parish for two years was convicted Friday of 21 counts of sexual molestation that occurred during his time as a priest in England.
A Birmingham court sentenced James Robinson, 73, to 21 years in prison for a number of crimes related to sexual abuse of six young boys from 1959 to 1983.
Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said Robinson came to the United States as a visiting priest in the mid-1980s and served at three parishes: Holy Angels Church in Arcadia from 1989 to 1990, St. Catherine Laboure Church in Torrance from 1990 to 1992, and St. Mel's Church in Woodland Hills from 1992 to 1993.
Tamberg said the archdiocese received no reports of Robinson abusing anyone during his time at the three local churches.
"If somebody comes forward, certainly we will turn that over to police and extend outreach to those people, should they come forward," he said.
The pastor of the Torrance church, Msgr. John O'Byrne, referred questions about Robinson to the archdiocese. The church, at 3846 Redondo Beach Blvd., also runs a school serving children from preschool to eighth grade.
Tamberg said the archdiocese received a letter in 1993 from a Catholic bishop in Birmingham saying Robinson had been accused of sexual abuse, and that he was being recalled by the archdiocese in England. At that point, Robinson's priestly faculties in Los Angeles were revoked, and he was sent home, Tamberg said.
"That's the last we heard of him until 2008, when we received an anonymous phone call saying that (Robinson) was running a trailer park in Southern California," he said. "We turned that information over to police."
Robinson was actually tracked down at the trailer park in Duarte by the BBC, which was filming a documentary about the abuse allegations. Robinson was extradited to England shortly afterward to face criminal charges.
Tamberg said he does not know when Robinson returned to the United States; the priest had no contact with the archdiocese after he left in 1993.
An advocacy organization for sexual abuse victims, meanwhile, said Friday the archdiocese should have been more proactive in informing the public of Robinson's presence here.
"The archdiocese never announced anything about Robinson," said Joelle Casteix, western regional director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "We don't know what they know about him, or when they knew it, but we know that they never made an effort to reach out to potential victims."
The survivors network was formed in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that broke in 2002 at the Archdiocese of Boston, and eventually spread to dioceses across the country. In 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the nation, paid a record $660 million to settle more than 500 claims of abuse by priests under its watch.
The scandal has since erupted in other parts of the world, with clerics in Ireland, England, Belgium, Germany and Australia now under fire for shuffling abusive priests around and sheltering them from police.
Robinson faced charges brought by six victims, who testified that the priest took them to football games, rock concerts and overnight trips to gain their favor and trust before sexually molesting them.
At his sentencing Friday, the judge described Robinson as "devious and manipulative," according to the BBC. Despite the priest's attempts to evade prosecution, "the law does not forget, your victims would not forget and you have been brought to justice," the judge said.
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