LA police pore over 12,000 pages of priest abuse records for leads

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06 February 2013

By Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles police are combing through some 12,000 pages of priest abuse records released last week by the city’s Catholic archdiocese to determine whether to open any new criminal investigations, authorities said Tuesday.

Many of the cases detailed in the more 120 personnel files were already known to law enforcement, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said, and others could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out.

Don Bartletti / Pool via Reuters, file

Cardinal Roger Mahony, shown in 2010, was stripped of all public and administrative duties after being linked to efforts to conceal child sexual abuse by priests. Police are using 12,000 pages of documents released by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to look for leads that could strengthen old cases or prompt new ones.

But detectives wanted to make sure no leads had been missed in documents made public by the archdiocese as part of a 2007 civil court settlement, officer Bruce Borihanh said.

“Now that the list is available we want to be proactive and look at that list,” Borihanh said. He said that he was not aware of any specific case that investigators were focused on and that it was possible no new leads would be discovered.

The probe marks the latest development following Thursday’s release of the files, which has already led Archbishop Jose Gomez to strip his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, of all public and administrative duties.

Mahoney’s former top aide, Thomas Curry, also stepped down as bishop of Santa Barbara. Both men had been linked to efforts to conceal the abuse.

In further fallout, the Los Angeles Unified School District severed its ties on Monday with a priest who, the files show, was once accused of molesting a teenage girl.

Father Joseph Pina, 66, took a job working for the school district in 2002, several years after he resigned as a pastor and was placed on inactive leave by the church. An attorney for Pina has declined to comment to Reuters on the matter.

The Los Angeles archdiocese, which serves 4 million Catholics, reached a $660 million civil settlement in 2007 with more than 500 victims of child molestation in the biggest such agreement of its kind in the nation.

Mahony at the time called the abuse “a terrible sin and crime.”

9 Responses to LA police pore over 12,000 pages of priest abuse records for leads

  1. Sylvia says:

    “Los Angeles police are combing through some 12,000 pages of priest abuse records released last week by the city’s Catholic archdiocese to determine whether to open any new criminal investigations, authorities said Tuesday.”

    Go for it!!

  2. JG says:

    …as I read this good news I had a Leonard Cohen song come to mind( not that it is about the same subject!) with some changes to his words: ..”first we take LA, then we take ………….”( I thought of Bathurst, but feel free to add your “preference”!)
    …another song coming in….”Clean-up Time”…Lennon!
    Maybe just sweet music coming from LA….
    It should be the rule rather than the exception!
    “California Dreamin’ ”

  3. Leona says:


    Not sure if you read Survive&Thrive and my comments under Dialogue.
    I believe we need to join our forces together to see what we can do in Canada to make this happen here.

    I’m willing to head up the organizing committee for a national conference/meeting for survivors and their supporters. perusing the LA documents has affirmed my belief that children continue to be put at risk in this organization throughout the world.

  4. JG says:

    Hi Leona,
    Yes I have read your comments and those of Survive and Thrive on Dialogue. I agree 100% that the financial “link” is probably the way to go to get a sustained and meaningful response from this organization. There also needs to be a change of mindset as it relates to the people in positions of enforcement, such as police, Crown Prosecutors, Judges. In short, there needs to be some bite in our Laws.
    The RCMP does have a tool in the “Proceeds of Crime” branch which could be of some “example” in getting results in cases where the protection of children is involved. I read the other treads on pedophile rings , Sylvia’s comments on the “collusion” to abuse children and have been reflecting on the need for stronger legislation. If it is good enough to protect society from the negative effects of drugs, shouldn’t it also serve to protect the same children from sexual predator???….Definitely!
    Just yesterday, on the news, I saw an unusually emotional Steven Harper introduce the idea of a new legislation to protect the victims and families of convicted perpetrators who are deemed “not criminally responsible”… and the need to focus on victims and their families needs, first of all.
    I have to admit I have been a Steven Harper “basher” at times but I can forgive him a lot for the efforts. I could probably suggest that he find a suitable “friendly adversary” with common sense to let his ideas simmer before they come to fruition …and make him look like a disconnected dictator! Refocus ….
    There was also mention on another tread that there was a page under the Gov. of Canada web warning about catholic priests…I think John MacDonald was asking for some explanation but I am not sure why. Was it viewed as singling out Catholics?…inappropriate?…I thought it as another way of sounding the alarm for victims and if that is what it takes…
    I saw that as an opening and a suggestion that our Government was following this subject of abuse within the Catholic Church as closely as it should. Maybe, probably, also someone assigned to monitor this site!!!….Maybe the message is percolating…
    What I am saying is simply that we need to get the politicians on board because they are the ones who can make this happen. Like the RCMP’s Product of Crime provisions, the same should occur in cases of child abuse cases. The Police should be able/required by Law to follow through their investigation in cases of abuse. As Survive and Thrive suggested, this is where the “benefits” would be clawed back: searches, seizures, forfeiture, loss of tax breaks and so on.
    Our MP’s , our government need to hear about this the same way as Stephen Harper heard about two children from Quebec who were murdered by their own Father…
    Within six months or so they are now proposing adequate legislation so that Justice may “appear to be done”.
    I am not a strong supporter of more red tape, more committees and prefer to “use” what is already in place…go right to the source.
    Continue being vocal, write your MP or preferably “visit”him…a cross country petition would have more immediate effect to have the offending priests, abusers identified.
    I think we need to tell this government what we want to protect our children and they will listen.
    We need a list of MP’s and individuals, groups to make a civilized, respectful representation on behalf of the victims.
    I was raised about half a mile from our MP , Bernard Valcourt, and would certainly get an appointment to express this need for more “accountability” and “transparency” of the church with improved legislation.
    Does this make any sense? or am I really “California Dreamin”….

    • Tim Dooling says:

      JG and Leona: You are on the right track, just in different starting points.
      The matters have to be politicized, and the present is a great time to do it.
      With the opening provided through the new drafting of abuse laws, and penalties, influence must be tried so that it will happen in a good way for child sex-abuse cases in general.
      The Government does not open up these kind of laws very often, and when they do .
      interested parties, which you are, have to act quickly, cunningly, and publicly to make certain these crimes get proper attention and remedy. GOD bless everyone who is working for this result ! Tim

  5. Leona says:

    I was the one who initially wondered about the placement of the info on the gov’t of Canada website, and I think John MacDonald followed through but it was for the reasons your described. Is there someone in gov’t watching the church, and if so how do we contact them and get them to put even more pressure on them!
    I hear what your saying, to enlist the politicians. My single letter certainly isn’t as powerful as a national petition. Shall we start the petition? What about a march to the parliament buildings?

  6. John says:

    JG and Leona:

    We can speculate all we want about why a page is on a Government of Canada Public Safety website concerning abuse in the Catholic Church. I would rather hear THEIR reasoning behind having it there. You are right though JG, it is going to require a change in mindset of those involved in enforcement positions.

    John MacDonald

  7. JG says:

    Leona, John, Tim and all other silent ones…
    We are on the same track. There are things I am able to contribute and I am constantly trying to imagine new ways. However I Know that for the foreseeable future traveling is not in my cards because of unavoidable “obligations” and commitments, to answer Leona’s suggestion about going to Ottawa. The next best thing, I plan to go in the MP’s office this week to get an appointment…
    In my part of the country, in the Maritimes, I remember that when I got on board three years ago “some” of our papers who were not yet educated on the subject seemed to shy away from any criticism or coverage of the church and this sexual abuse history. They were probably concerned about offending or pushing away their readers. Since then however, the very ironic insignificance of a sign on the arena in Cap Pelée seems to have tipped the scale and now on an almost regular basis I have witnessed important coverage by the same media. So I think we have made some progress because very courageous individuals like Lowell, Denis, Jean-Louis, Conrad…and the list goes on….have continued to be vocal and continue to expose these crimes in those same newspapers and in the social media. So, we have to be encouraged and continue to apply pressure where and how we can, in our individual ways.
    John and Leona, I admire what both of you are also doing behind the scene and those “single letters” in my view can be just as meaningful as a petition. I prefer a lone, sincere, understanding but strong letter in the “right mailbox” as opposed to a petition in “file thirteen”… I have to add however that I recently signed one of those social media petitions which went to the CRTC…and it came out as demanded.
    So, someone with the savvy, technical know-how should certainly get on that. With a web address, then the word can be passed around. Right away, I can say I have not the least idea how to accomplish that. Volunteers??
    I will visit my MP’s office this week. Wonder how long it will take to have a face to face. I am thinking we /I should have a “uniform”/similar message if anyone else is to have the same approach. Has anyone “composed” or prepared such a message previously? I think we should make it clear, concise and not stray in all directions. That would be a sure way to get brushed aside. Any ideas, “scripts”, to pass along…

  8. Sylvia says:

    A good debate 🙂

    I will add my comments tomorrow.

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