Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse Protest

By Rick Orlov
Contra Costa Times
February 24, 2011

[Click here to read the lawsuit.]

With Cardinal Roger Mahony retiring this weekend, a small group of survivors of sex abuse by Catholic priests staged a demonstration Thursday in front of the downtown cathedral, demanding that he open the church's abuse files.

The group of about a half-dozen victims also called attention to a new lawsuit filed against the Salesian Society of the Catholic Church for an alleged case of abuse at a school in Bellflower 18 years ago.

"Cardinal Mahony leaves this weekend and the one thing he could do to possibly clean up his legacy is to release all his files on child abuse cases," said Joelle Casteix, a Southern California regional director for Surviving Network of Abuse by Priests.

"He has used every legal maneuver to resist releasing those files. We have seen other jurisdictions release their files. Our question is why is it taking Mahony so long?"

Separately, the group released documents in a lawsuit filed on behalf of "John Doe," who was 15-year-old student at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower in 1993 when he said he was molested by a priest, who was a teacher and counselor at the school.

The lawsuit claims the priest has since been transferred to the Salesian Provincial Residence in San Francisco, a block from the 1,100-student Sacred Heart Cathedral Academy. A demonstration was also staged in San Francisco.

The suit alleges eight other priests who have been accused of molestation live at the Salesian residence.

Officials at the Salesian order in San Francisco said they could not comment.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese was not named in the suit.

A spokesman for the archdiocese declined to comment on the suit or on the call for Mahony to open more files.

"We have nothing to do with the Salesians, and St. John Bosco is not one of our schools," spokesman Tod Tamberg said.

The archdiocese agreed in 2007 to pay $660 million to settle claims filed by more than 500 people who said they had been molested by clergy. Mahony apologized to the survivors and created programs to help victims and prevent future abuse.

SNAP leaders have criticized Mahony, saying they believe he is withholding information about the cases.

The lawsuit against the Salesian Order alleges that several priests, teachers and others sexually abused a number of students and young people in the United States and other countries, and that leaders failed to report the activity to authorities or take disciplinary action.

In the Bellflower case, the suit said a priest molested the young student for several months, and that he was not disciplined when the boy reported the abuse.

School authorities referred the boy to counselors, but he continues to suffer emotionally from the abuse, said the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.

Mahony is scheduled to retire on Sunday when he turns 75, and will be succeeded by Archbishop Jose Gomez.

Tim Lennon, leader of the San Francisco chapter of SNAP, said news conference at the Los Angeles Archdiocese was designed to highlight the past problems.

"With Archbishop Mahony retiring, we hope for the archdiocese to have full disclosure," Lennon said. "They need to go out to the parishes and tell people what happened and reach out to the survivors.

"They have not come forward and provided the support that survivors need."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.