Catholic strategies to prevent police investigations.

Los Angeles diocese - Comment on 2013 January 23 (3)

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Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his chief aide for sex abuse cases, Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, wrote memos outlining strategies to prevent police investigations of three priests who had admitted abusing boys. Conceal the church's dirty secrets at all costs. Don't notify the police when abuse is reported. Keep prosecutors at bay with legal challenges. Avoid reforms until public pressure mounts. And, when all else fails, have Mahony issue a carefully scripted "apology." Read more:

Here follow extracts from reports about the Los Angeles diocese:

 

Over the last decade, there have been numerous calls to prosecute Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his top aides for their mishandling of clergy sex abuse. At least three grand juries, two district attorneys and a U.S. attorney have subpoenaed documents and summoned witnesses. None of those cases resulted in charges against the archdiocese's hierarchy.

The release this week of a trove of internal church records showing a concerted effort to hide abuse from police triggered new demands from victims and church critics that Mahony and his advisors be held criminally accountable.

A quarter-century has passed since Mahony and his chief aide for sex abuse cases, Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, wrote memos outlining strategies to prevent police investigations of three priests who had admitted abusing boys.

The memos the men wrote made clear that they were aware children had been raped and otherwise assaulted and were attempting to keep authorities in the dark. They discussed giving the abusive priests out-of-state assignments and keeping them from seeing therapists who might have alerted law enforcement.

"Whatever they did back then is horrendous, unethical and immoral to the point of biblical proportions, but it may not be criminal."

Every time we learn something new about the molestation scandal in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it becomes more obvious why Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his minions have fought so tenaciously to keep things under wraps.

Not to protect the privacy of victims or the rights of suspected abusers, as the church hierarchy has contended. But to hide the unconscionable deception by church leaders, who repeatedly did more to protect their own image than to help the victims of horrific crimes.

This week's revelations of deliberate efforts by Mahony and others to shield abusers from law enforcement authorities are deplorable yet entirely unsurprising.

Conceal the church's dirty secrets at all costs. Don't notify the police when abuse is reported. Keep prosecutors at bay with legal challenges. Avoid reforms until public pressure mounts. And, when all else fails, have Mahony issue a carefully scripted "apology."

Curry and Mahony also corresponded about Father Michael Wempe, another admitted molester. Curry suggested they shuffle him to an out-of-state diocese, or get him "a lawyer who is also a psychiatrist," so that any files on their conversations would be "under the protection of privilege."

Curry, by the way, is today the archdiocese's auxiliary bishop for Santa Barbara. In a just world, he'd be relieved of his duties immediately or resign in shame. But if the church hierarchy didn't have the decency to do what was right back then, when parish children desperately needed their help, can they be expected do the right thing now?

The former leader of the Los Angeles archdiocese, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, and a top advisor discussed ways to conceal the sexual abuse of children from law enforcement officials, according to internal church records released Monday.

In memos written to Mahony in 1986 and 1987 contained in personnel files for 14 priests and filed this month as evidence in a court case, his chief advisor on sex abuse cases proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted molesting young boys to church officials.

Michael Baker confessed to abusing boys to then-Archbishop Roger M. Mahony in 1986, but was allowed to return to the ministry after receiving therapy. However, he went on to molest more children. Authorities believe that Baker molested at least 23 boys in his 26 years as a priest. He pleaded guilty in criminal court to sexually abusing two boys in 2007 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

 

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