ABC 13 (KTRK-TV Houston Texas)
23 January 2013
Updated at 04:35 AM today
LOS ANGELES, CA — Prosecutors who have been stymied for years in their attempts to build a criminal conspiracy case against retired Los Angeles Archdiocese Cardinal Roger Mahony and other church leaders said Tuesday they will review newly released priest files for additional evidence.
Thousands of pages from the internal disciplinary files of 14 priests made public Monday show Mahony and other top aides maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests and provide damage control for the church.
Some of the documents provide the strongest evidence to date that Mahony and another key official worked to protect a priest who revealed in therapy sessions that he had raped an 11-year-old boy and abused up to 17 boys.
Legal experts, however, said even if the documents contain new evidence, it will be almost impossible to prosecute because of problems with the statute of limitations. It’s also unclear whether prosecutors, who received some documents via subpoena years ago, already have seen the files made public Monday.
The time window for prosecuting obstruction of justice is 10 years and for conspiracy, it’s three years after the last overt criminal act, said Lawrence Rosenthal, a criminal law professor at Chapman University School of Law.
Much of the material in the files dates to the mid-1980s, when Mahony was handling some of the most troublesome problem priests.
“The problem is, a prosecutor looking at this has to do time travel, basically, and go back to the law as it existed at the time of the offenses,” Rosenthal said. “And at the time of the offense, you’re going to have significant statute of limitations problems.”
The top aide, then-Monsignor Thomas J. Curry, is now an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese’s Santa Barbara region. He issued a public apology Tuesday, echoing a similar statement from Mahony a day earlier.
“I wish to acknowledge and apologize for those instances when I made decisions regarding the treatment and disposition of clergy accused of sexual abuse that in retrospect appear inadequate or mistaken,” Curry said in a statement obtained by the Ventura County Star. “”Like many others, I have come to a clearer understanding over the years of the causes and treatment of sexual abuse and I have fully implemented in my pastoral region the archdiocese’s policies and procedures for reporting abuse, screening those who supervise children and abuse prevention training for adults and children.”
Mahony apologized on Monday, expressing regret for mistakes he made after taking over the nation’s largest archdiocese in 1985. An attorney for the church, J. Michael Hennigan, has denied that there was a cover-up attempt. He didn’t return a call Tuesday.
The files of dozens more accused priests are expected to be released in the coming weeks as part of a 2007 settlement agreement with more than 500 alleged victims. A judge recently ruled that the church must turn the files over to attorneys for those people without the names and titles of members of the church hierarchy blacked out after The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times intervened.
The documents raise the possibility of renewed criminal scrutiny for Mahony and others in the archdiocese hierarchy. Mahony retired in 2011.
Prosecutors in Philadelphia last year secured the conviction of a monsignor who was secretary for clergy after a change in state law gave prosecutors more time to file charges and seek evidence. In Missouri, a judge found a bishop guilty last year of failing to report child abuse to the state, making him the highest-ranking U.S. Roman Catholic official to be convicted of a crime relating to the child sexual abuse scandal.
In Los Angeles, the archdiocese and an attorney representing about 30 individual accused priests has fought for years in court to keep the priests’ confidential files sealed, citing the clerics’ privacy rights. The church was forced under subpoena to turn over some records to the district attorney during an investigation that began in 2002.
In a 2010 memo, a lead prosecutor in that probe said the documents he had showed “the possibility of criminal culpability” by members of the archdiocese leadership, but a criminal conspiracy case was “more and more remote” because of the passage of time.
Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman said investigators had insufficient evidence to fill in a timeline stretching over 20 years hampered by the statute of limitations. He did not return a call or email seeking comment Tuesday.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office convened a grand jury in 2009 to hear evidence, but it yielded no indictments. It was unclear Tuesday if that grand jury was still sitting and a spokesman declined to comment.
L.A. County prosecutors reviewing documents released by Los Angeles Archdiocese
The Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)
Posted: 01/22/2013 12:59:35 PM PST
Updated: 01/22/2013 04:06:43 PM PST
To view Bishop Thomas Curry’s statement about news stories regarding clergy-abuse documents, click here.
Los Angeles County prosecutors said today they will begin reviewing internal documents released by the Los Angeles Archdiocese which show that retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other church leaders maneuvered to protect priests accused of child molestation from law enforcement.
The revelations were contained in thousands of pages of documents released Monday by the attorney for a man who claims he was abused by a priest and has filed suit against the church. The flood of records from the personnel files for 14 priests reveal publicly for the first time how the Catholic Church handled abuse allegations, and the elaborate strategies for keeping molestation secret.
The files of about 75 additional priests are slated to become
public in the next few weeks under the terms of a 2007 settlement with more than 500 victims, who received a record payout of $660 million.
A lawyer for about 30 of the priests fought to keep the records sealed, but a judge recently ordered their release without redacting the names of church leaders.
“The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will review and evaluate all documents as they become available to us,” said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
J. Michael Hennigan, an attorney for the archdiocese, said the church hopes to release the documents within the next two weeks.
“We are accelerating this as fast as we can,” he said.
In 2007, when the settlement was announced and officials thought the release of personnel files was imminent, then-District Attorney Steve Cooley vowed to pursue criminal charges against anyone implicated by their contents.
“(The) massive civil settlement highlights the institutional moral failure of the archdiocese to supervise predatory priests who operated for years under its jurisdiction,” he said at the time.
“If these documents reveal evidence of criminal activity on behalf of individual priests or anyone else, we will pursue them. The book is not closed on our investigation.”
Many of the documents released Monday involve correspondence between Mahony, who retired as archbishop in 2011, and his vicar of clergy, then Msgr. Thomas Curry, who now is the bishop of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region.
Mahony issued a statement Monday, in which he apologized to victims for mishandling their cases.
Curry issued his own apology today “for those instances when I made decisions regarding the treatment and disposition of clergy accused of sexual abuse that in retrospect appear inadequate or mistaken.
“Most especially,” he wrote, “I wish to express my sympathy to all the victims of sexual abuse by clergy.”
To view Cardinal Roger M. Mahony’s statement regarding sexual abuse of minors by clergy, click here.
Also Tuesday, victims of sexual abuse by priests demanded that Mahony and other high-ranking officials be publicly admonished for trying to cover-up clergy molestations.
“He personally managed the careers of predator priests. And he and other high-ranking members of the archdiocese, including now-Bishop Curry, worked diligently to ensure that men who hurt children, who abused children and who destroyed communities were never going to see a day behind bars,” said Joelle Casteix of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP,
“We were shocked and disgusted to see these documents.”
The archdiocese responded with a statement noting changes in how the church handles complaints of suspected sex abuse.
To view the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s statement on news reports about clergy abuse documents, click here.
“No institution has learned more from mistakes made decades ago in dealing with priests who have abused young people than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. We have apologized for the sad and shameful actions of some priests, as well as for our inadequate responses in assisting victims and in dealing with perpetrators.”
Evidence shows bold L.A. priest abuse cover-up
22 January 2013
By Bill Whitaker
(CBS News) LOS ANGELES – There is new evidence that leaders of the Catholic Church in Los Angeles maneuvered secretly to shield priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Documents just released indicate they never told parishioners — or the police — what they knew.
“What we’re seeing in these files is but a glimpse into a very, very dark, and endless tunnel of secrecy, of abuse, of silence,” said Raymond Boucher, a former altar boy and current lead attorney, representing some 500 victims of sex abuse by priests in the archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The documents offer the strongest evidence yet of a cover-up that reached to the very top of Los Angeles clergy: Then-archbishop, now-retired Cardinal Roger Mahony.
“That has always been paramount for the church for decades: Protect itself from scandal,” Boucher said.
Many of the documents are correspondence between Mahony and Monsignor Thomas Curry, his chief adviser on sex abuse. One concerns whether to allow Monsignor Peter Garcia to return to his duties in L.A. He had secretly been sent away for treatment in New Mexico for sexually abusing as many as 17 youngsters.
No one in the church hierarchy alerted authorities.
Mahony wrote on July 22, 1986: “I believe if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors. Signed, sincerely yours in Christ, most reverend Roger Mahony.”
Monsignor Curry concurred: “There are numerous – maybe 20 – adolescents or young adults that Peter Garcia was involved with in a first degree felony manner. The possibility of one of these seeing him is simply too great.”
Cardinal Mahony issued this statement Tuesday to the victims: “I pray for them every single day.”
It ends simply: “I’m sorry.”
Victims held a press conference Tuesday. Manny Vega says was abused from age 10 to 15.
“Conscious, clear decisions were made to hide these priests and move them around and never, never did they consider the well-being of the children that they destroyed and left behind,” Vega said.
Monsignor Garcia has passed away, and Monsignor Curry did not respond to requests for comment from CBS News.
As many as 30,000 more documents from the archdiocese sex abuse settlement are to be released in the coming weeks.