LOS ANGELES, October 12, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been under increasing pressure from lawsuits and criminal proceedings to release the confidential personnel files on priests accused of sexual abuse of minors. Today the Archdiocese made public a 155 page document it is calling an “Addendum” to its 2004 report on sexual abuse.
The document, however, gives the courts, victims and media only a heavily edited version of the Archdiocese’s priest files that gives few details and only the barest possible bones of the facts.
Even so, the Addendum shows a long-term policy of shuffling homosexual abusers from one parish to another, giving no mention of any warning to parishioners that a homosexual predator was in their midst or of notifying police. It is damaging enough that the Archdiocese is attempting to spin the abuse using euphemistic references of “boundary violations,” by abusing clergy.
The lead lawyer for the victims in the suit has said that the Addendum does not adequately cover the facts and has been purged of the most damning evidence. Raymond P. Boucher told the New York Times, “Unfortunately, these files do not contain the full story of the participation by the church in the manipulation and movement of these priests.”
“The full files would show how deep and pervasive this problem was and how much the church put its own interests ahead of those of the children and others who were molested by the priests. That is a broader and deeper story,” he said.
The Addendum gives point-form information on 11 diocesan priests and 4 more in religious orders who reside and work in Los Angeles as well as 11 brothers of religious orders. Six of the men covered in the Addendum are deceased.
One example, that of Fr. Michael S. Baker, reads simply, “12/26/47 Born; 05/25/74 Graduates from St. John’s Theology with M.A. in Religion; 05/25/74 Ordained for Diocese of Los Angeles…” Even this sanitized version shows that on December 22, 1987, Baker admitted personally to Cardinal Mahoney, that he had been abusing two young boys for seven years, which the report refers to as “a relationship.”
After a couple of years of “group therapy” and “workshops,” Baker was returned to duty working with the elderly. In 1989, despite having broken his “restrictions”– which the report does not detail – Baker was returned to parish work where he had access to boys. Between 1989 and 1996, he was transferred seven more times before he was caught breaking the restrictions again with “contact (non-sexual) with minors.” Baker was then assigned to work with retired and sick priests until being sent again to parish work.
It took a lawsuit by victims in 2000 to finally have Baker removed permanently from ministry 14 days after the suit was filed. By this time it was known that Baker had molested as many as ten victims over 20 years. Since his removal from priestly ministry, Baker was arrested and has been charged with lewd acts on a child under 14.
The case of Baker is illustrative and it was the one which Cardinal Mahony has referred to as the case “that troubles me the most.” Some have speculated that the part most troubling to Mahony is the indication from prosecutors that Baker could be called upon as a state’s witness.
The civil suit is not the end of the Cardinal’s troubles. The Los Angeles District Attorney has been trying for years to get hold of the personnel files in order to start laying criminal charges which may include charges of obstruction against Mahony. In a 2002 letter, L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley told Mahony that if the files were not forthcoming, a Grand Jury would be used to obtain them. When asked what evidence, if any, the archdiocese had turned over to date, Cooley’s spokesman, Sandi Gibbons, replied, “not one scrap of paper.”
Read the Addendum from the Los Angeles Archdiocese website:
See LifeSiteNews.com’s Church Abuse Crisis page