Former Lynwood Pastor Admitted Sex with Girl

By Mirna Alfonso
The Patch
February 3, 2013

Portion of a letter from an alleged victim to Fa. Sean Cronin, who served in South Gate for a time. Credit Screenshot of church documents.

Letter from member of oversight board to Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, asking why the vicar would not recommend Sean Cronin for the prieshood upon his completion of seminary. Credit Documents provided by Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Portion of a letter from a priest to Cardinal Roger Mahony expressing hope that the sexual crime committed by another priest will not launch a criminal investigation. Credit Documents provided by Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Joseph Pina

Donal O'Connor

Wallace Daley

Joseph Ryan

Joseph Sharpe

Sean Cronin

Six priests named in personnel files finally released by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles -- after years of battle in the courts -- served some time in Lynwood or South Gate.

Joseph Pina was a 38-year-old priest when he met a 13-year-old girl at a Los Angeles Archdiocesan parish.

He began a "relationship" with her when she was 16 and became sexual with her when she was 17.

At the age of 19, in 1992, the woman broke off the so-called relationship and Pina went to his superiors, hurt that she had been harsh with him.

Under the vicarship of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and then-Msgr. Thomas J. Curry -- both of whom were disgraced this week -- Pina saw counselors, participated  in a residential Catholic treatment program, took 12-step sex addiction programs but by 1998, he was in the sex offenders unit of a hospital in Torrance.

There, he was diagnosed with "psychosexual disorder with addictive and exploitive features," his file indicates.

In 1998, upon his admission to the hospital, he resigned from the clergy.

During the six years from his admission to having an affair with the girl to his admission to a hospital for sex offenders, Mahony, Curry and the-Father Timothy Dyer worked with him to get help but the situation was never reported to law enforcement.

"I am hoping that no investigation will have to take place," Dyer wrote in a memorandum to Mahony in 1993.

Mahony's scrawled answer at the bottom of the memo: "thanks for the update -- let's see what the evaluation turns up."

In fact, following an in-patient stint at Villa St. John Vianney, Pina in 1994 was made an Associate Pastor at San Buenaventura Mission, in Ventura.

A screenshot of that portion of the letter is attached to this article.

He stayed there until 1998, when he was made pastor at St. Emydius, in Lynwood.

He resigned from the pastorship after six weeks at St. Emydius and left the priesthood in 2006.

The documents in Pina's file point to a man who thought he fell in love with a girl when she dressed as Snow White in the eighth grade.

"I saw her as the woman I was going to marry," Pina was quoted in 1993.

"I don't know why she broke it off, unless she found somebody else."

In 1994, a pyschologist warned the church hierarchy that Pina was a risk and could victimize others, though he refused to take full responsibility for his actions.

That is when Mahony had him placed at St. John Vianney for "sexual misconduct," documents indicate.

Pina's is among a slew of names and files released by the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles this weekend; the records revealed that six priests accused of sexual molestation served in Lynwood or South Gate.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles this week released thousands of pages of files on 122 priests -- some dead now and some now no longer priests -- accused of sexually assaulting children.

Meanwhile, according to reports published in the Los Angeles Times, current Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, of all public duties.

The cardinal's right-hand man, Thomas J. Curry, resigned his post as a bishop in Santa Barbara, according to published reports.

The two men are widely seen as instrumental in hiding sex offenders and offenses from the public but according to correspondence and voluminous notes taken over the years, a pattern of sweeping sexual sins under the rug seemed institutionalized.

The priests who served locally and are included on the list of those clergy accused of pedophilia are:

  • Donal O'Connor -- served at St. Emydius in Lynwood, from 1974 to 1998; he was accused by a woman of hugging her hard and pressing up against her when she was a girl in 1960 or 1961.
  • Wallace J. Daley -- Served as chaplain at Lynwood's St. Francis Medical Center from June 1962 to March 1963; accused in 2002 of molesting a boy 41 years prior.
  • Joseph Francis Ryan -- Served as associate pastor at St. Emydius Church in Lynwood from December 1936 to October 1937; he moved almost yearly -- sometimes twice in a year, and had several leaves of absence and sick leaves. There are no notes associated with Ryan's file.
  • Joseph Sharpe -- Served at St. Emydius in Lynwood from September 1953 to December 1954; in 1971, someone wrote to the then-archbishop about an "affair" with Sharpe, who was this person's confessor while the alleged victim was a junior in high school.
The person wrote in the statement that Sharpe told the child that he or she did not know the difference between what was sinful and what was not.

  • Sean Cronin - Served at St. Helen Catholic Church in South Gate from October 1982 to September 1984; He was accused of misconduct during a period from 1972 to 1980, while at St. Genevieve and St. Monica parishes.
Attached to this article is an email from an alleged victim to Cronin, recalling being given liquor as an underage teen, asked sexual questions and being taken to see a movie with homosexual sex scenes.

Mahony in a 2004 letter to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, expressed concern that there could be some "semblance" of truth in allegations against Cronin and asked that the archdiocese be allowed to have an ecclesiastical trial that could result in defrocking him.

The dispensation for the church trial was given by the Vatican in 2005.

"This allegation of abusive activity on the part of Father Cronin did not emerge in a vacuum," Mahony wrote to Ratzinger.

The cardinal pointed out that as early as 1977, Cronin's pastor at the time expressed his concern about the priest's contact with boys in his room.

Mahony also told Ratzinger that Cronin was an alcoholic and had a stint in rehab following an intervention.

The dispensation for the church trial was given by the Vatican in 2005.

It was delayed while civil lawsuits moved forward and in 2010, Cronin applied to Rome to be freed from the priesthood.

It is unclear from the documents whether an ecclesiastical trial was ever held but the papers do indicate that the Archbishop of Dublin refused to recommend him to the priesthood in 1967.

Unsuccessful in gaining ordination in his native Ireland, Cronin was ordained in the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1973, after intense lobbying for years, records show.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wrote to someone on the oversight board investigating Cronin's case that Cronin was asked to leave the seminary because of homosexual advances to a fellow student.


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