February 3, 2013

Abuse victims’ needs often given scant attention

Files show that Los Angeles archdiocese officials sprang into action over ecclesiastical missteps while ignoring alleged abuse.

By VICTORIA KIM, ASHLEY POWERS and HARRIET RYAN, Los Angeles Times

(Continued from page 2)

Esther Miller
click image to enlarge

Esther Miller, 54, who says she was abused by the Rev. Michael Nocita, seen in middle picture, holds newly released files on Nocita, at a news conference Friday held by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press

Roger Mahony
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Roger Mahony says he was ill-equipped to deal with sex abuse in the Los Angeles archdiocese.

2007 File Photo/The Associated Press

"When it came to treating sexual abuse of children as an ecclesiastical crime, the church legal system failed," he said.

The church fought all the way to the state Supreme Court to keep many of the records secret. The archdiocese abandoned a plan make the documents public with the names of the hierarchy blacked out only after media organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, sued in court. The judge sided with the media, but in many of the documents posted online, Mahony's name and that of his top aide on abuse in the 1980s, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, are still redacted.

Asked about the redactions, a lawyer for the archdiocese, J. Michael Hennigan, pledged to "fix it."

"It was our intention to always release the Cardinal and Bishop Curry's names when they appeared," he wrote in an email.

Mahony, who retired in 2011 after more than a quarter-century at the helm of the archdiocese, has publicly apologized for mistakes he made in dealing with priests who molested children.

But in a sharply worded letter to his successor Friday, Mahony challenged Archbishop Jose Gomez for publicly shaming him as the files were released and said he developed policies to safeguard children after taking over in 1985, despite being unequipped to deal with the molester priests he inherited.

Mahony said Gomez was well aware when he took over in 2011 of the steps Mahony had taken to develop better clergy sex abuse policies and never questioned his leadership until Thursday, Mahony wrote.

"Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then. But when I retired as the active archbishop, I handed over to you an archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth," Mahony wrote.

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