In 1998 police were investigating allegations of sexual abuse on a child by a Catholic priest in Los Angeles and asked for a list of altar boys from the last parish were he served.
According to a deposition made public on Wednesday, then Archbisop Roger Mahony instructed a subordinate not to release the list to authorities because he didn’t want the boys to be exposed to the details of the investigation and he felt the altar boys were too old to be potential victims at that point.
Police investigating the accusations found out that Priest Nicolas Aguilar Rivera molested 25 altar boys in the 10-months he was in Los Angeles, visiting from Mexico, plus a priest in training. Officials obtained the names of the boys from parish members.
Bishop Mahony’s deposition was obtained by The Associated Press as part of the evidence included in the settlement between the archdiocese, Aguilar Rivera, and four other priests.
The Los Angeles archdiocese has paid more than $700 million in settlement fees to the victims and their families stemming from the Priest sexual abuse lawsuits.
Last year — under court order — the church was forced to release internal files kept in regard to Priests accused of sexual abuse.
The documents reveal that Los Angeles Cardinal Mahony controlled the situation behind the scenes with the help of his top aide Monsignor Thomas Curry to protect molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners misinformed.
It is not clear what effect Mahony’s actions had on the investigation, but in a news conference Jeff Anderson, a plaintiffs’ attorney, summed up the feelings many of the victims and their families have regarding the Bishop:
“Cardinal Mahony and those top officials have never been held fully to account. What we see is a current and ongoing attempt to deflect and deny responsibility.”
Aguilar Rivera was accused of molesting 100 additional children in his native Mexico — before and after his stay in Los Angeles — and was defrocked in 2009 when the first lawsuits were filed.
Mahony, who retired in 2011, was admonished by Archbishop Jose Gomez for his handling of the abuse cases, however, he has avoided prosecution.
Lawrence Rosenthal, a criminal law professor at Chapman University and a former prosecutor says it is unlikely Mahony or his subordinates will face any charges because of the time that has passed in the decades old cases.
J. Michael Hennigan, an attorney with the archdiocese, claims that the Los Angeles Bishop “very vigorously” pursued bringing Aguilar Rivera back to the US after he fled to Mexico, so he could be prosecuted.