Wednesday, 21 April 2010
A Mexican citizen has filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Los Angeles accusing Roman Catholic cardinals in Mexico City and Los Angeles of conspiring to shelter a Mexican paedophile priest in both countries.
The lawsuit alleges then-Bishop Norberto Rivera, head of the Diocese of Tehuacan, and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony shuttled Father Nicolas Aguilar Rivera between the US and Mexico in the late 1980s to shield him from prosecution.
Parishioners in both countries complained he had molested young boys.
Aguilar Rivera was defrocked last summer and remains at large in Mexico, where he was believed to be living out of his car in Puebla.
He has been wanted by US authorities on 19 felony counts of lewd conduct since he fled his temporary post in Los Angeles in 1988 and returned to Mexico.
Once back in Mexico, Aguilar Rivera continued to work as a priest for at least another decade and molested more young boys in Mexico City and in the Diocese of Tehuacan, in central Mexico, attorneys said. One of those boys is the plaintiff.
“This priest was not only a rapist, but remained a priest and at large and was allowed to rape this child and many others,” attorney Jeff Anderson said. “He was raped by this priest as a child in Mexico after both cardinals knew this priest posed a serious risk of harm.”
Father Hugo Valdemar, Cardinal Rivera’s spokesman, said the Mexican cardinal was not responsible for the priest’s wrongdoing and said suing the cardinal made no sense.
Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for Cardinal Mahony, said any allegations that the Cardinal helped cover up Aguilar Rivera’s crimes were “ludicrous”.
Lawyers filed the suit, seeking damages and a jury trial in the US, under the 221-year-old Alien Tort Claims Act – an 18th century law which allows non-US citizens access to courts to challenge violations of international laws or treaties.