In 2001, amidst public outrage at decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and repeated promises by the clergy to catch offenders, a young priest named Father Fernando Lopez Lopez joined the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Four years later Lopez Lopez was convicted of multiple accounts of lewd acts with a child, and one of sexual battery, having admitted to molesting three teenage boys during his time at the St. Thomas the Apostle church in Koreatown. He had been hired smoothly by the L.A. parish, but refused employment and duties earlier that year by a monsignor in the San Bernardino diocese, who had discovered Lopez Lopez’s past. It turned out that the young priest had been asked to leave his former position at a parish in Italy, on allegations of homosexual involvement with youths and drug activity. None of this information, however, was dug up by the L.A. Archdiocese. The excitement surrounding the case died down after the priest served a prison sentence and was deported to his native Columbia. But now, one of the abuse victims is suing L.A. Archdiocese Cardinal Roger Mahoney for exposing him to harm by hiring Lopez Lopez. The trial will begin in October, and is already being covered in an investigative piece by Dan Rather. Could Mahoney have prevented teens from being molested? How will the suit affect Angelenos’ perception of their diocese? And has there been significant reform in the way priests are hired?
Dan Rather, host of “Dan Rather Reports” on HDNet; he broke the story of Father Fernando Lopez-Lopez in the L.A. Archdiocese