Southern California breaking news and trends

Church attorney: 'Children are very very safe in the church of the Los Angeles archdiocese today.'

Mercer 3471

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Archbishop Jose Gomez speaks during a news conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on April 6, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Gomez relieved retired Cardinal Mahoney of his public and administrative duties Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.

Thursday the Los Angeles Archdiocese released the personnel files of Catholic priests accused of child moletation. LA Archbishop Jose Gomez described the files "brutal and painful" reading and called the behavior described in the files "terribly sad and evil."  Gomez announced that he was relieving Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony of his public and administrative duties and said he'd accepted the resignation of Monsignor Thomas Curry.

Father Thomas Doyle, a lawyer who investigated charges of sexual abuse in the '80s told "Take Two" co-host Alex Cohen on Friday that "these priests have marauded victims for ages, they have been protected at an incredible cost to the faithful by the archdiocese. The only thing I think that could come close to any semblence of redemption is if the Archbishop doesn't worry about how he will appear in the media but goes to meet the victims privately in their homes on their turf and listen to what they have to say." 

The stories within the files, Fr. Doyle said, are "worse than nightmare novels. But they're real. They're deadly real. And what's so pathetic is that you have this horrendous reality of what was done to these men and women over decades by priests who were protected and moved around by Archbishops, by cardinals - by Mahoney and his predecessor and his whole crew."

KPCC's Susanne Whatley spoke to LA Archdocese lead attorney J. Michael Hennigan Friday during "All Things Considered" about the controversial files. 

KPCC: Some of these victims are pushing the archdiocese to continue to investigate the problem of child abuse by clergy. What does the archdiocese intend to do going forward?

Hennigan: In the past ten years the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has taken magnificent strides in terms of dealing with this issue with respect to every single claim of abuse. They have five retired FBI agents who investigate every matter. They fingerprint every person who deals with children in the archdiocese. Every single person who has supervisory responsibility for children receives training about how to deal with childhood sexual abuse. And every child in the archdiocese who is in any school or otherwise gets training every year, age appropriate, about how to detect it, how to talk about it, and what to do about it.

KPCC: Do you anticipate that there is going to be any criminal charges filed as a result of these files being released? We haven't heard anything from the DA's office or any other justice official.

Hennigan: I sincerely doubt it. These files have already been examined by three separate sitting grand juries - two state and one federal. There are, as far as I know, no crimes involved in there. What the files describe is a period of time when things were not handled as well as they might be and now an evolution where they are handled very very well.

KPCC: What was your reaction when you heard the judge say he did not want names redacted on these files?

Hennigan: Actually, it was never the archdiocese that requested the names be redacted. The redaction was the idea of the Special Master Judge Tevrizian who ordered it over two years ago. So we had complied to his rule which instructed us to redact. So when we heard there was going to be a protest we were sort of balking at it because it was going to take so much more time to do. But once we got into it we realized it was a much better production with the names exposed so we sort of gladly went into it and got it done. I understand now it is not perfect, but we're going to continue to work on it 'til we get it perfect.

KPCC: And is there anything that you'd like to say on behalf of the archdiocese to the people who were molested as children by priests?

Hennigan: Well, I will echo of Archbishop Gomez and Cardinal Mahoney who said they deeply regret what happened. There's no amount of apology that will change what happened to them but it spurred reform in the church to the point where they are today. And children are very very safe in the church of the Los Angeles archdiocese today.

blog comments powered by Disqus