Each morning, the LA Times team covering the ongoing child sexual abuse scandal by priests in the Los Angeles archdiocese brings new revelations more shocking than the previous days story. Over the weekend, Cardinal Roger Mahony was essentially stripped of any public duties by Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez while, somehow, remaining a priest in good standard.
The move comes after the release of thousands of pages of documents that Mahony sought to keep private which included the files of 14 priests accused of abusing children over a period of years became public a week ago. The documents are damning. They show how Mahony, and his aide Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, plotted to prevent law enforcement from learning the truth about how children had been molested by priests.
From the LA Times story:
An archdiocese spokesman, Tod Tamberg, said that beyond canceling his confirmation schedule, Mahony’s day-to-day life as a retired priest would be largely unchanged. He resides at a North Hollywood parish, and Tamberg said he would remain a “priest in good standing.” He can continue to celebrate Mass and will be eligible to vote for pope until he turns 80 two years from now, Tamberg said.
The move further stained the legacy of Mahony, a tireless advocate for Latinos and undocumented immigrants whose reputation has been marred over the last decade by revelations about his treatment of sex abuse allegations.
Before Gomez’s announcement, Mahony had weathered three grand jury investigations and numerous calls for his resignation. He stayed in office until the Vatican’s mandatory retirement age of 75. No criminal charges have been filed against Mahony or anyone in the church hierarchy.
I bolded that last statement because I can’t quite understand why the Cardinal hasn’t been placed under arrest. It is purely a political move not to arrest a Cardinal? is it a lack of evidence? Does our statute of limitations law in regards to any sort of sexual crime against children need to be amended?
Times columnist Steve Lopez can’t believe Mahony still has “good standing” in the church. From his column:
And why did it take until Thursday for the archdiocese to crack down on Mahony and announce that Santa Barbara Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, Mahony’s go-to man in the 1980s on molestation, has stepped down? The church has known for years what Mahony and Curry’s roles were in the scandal, and Gomez has been at the helm since 2011.]
In the files released Thursday, Curry sent Mahony a 1988 memo about a priest accused of molesting 20 altar boys in nine months.
“The whole issue of our records is a very sensitive one, and I am reluctant to give any list to the police,” wrote Curry.
And Mahony responded:
“We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever.”
Certainly not. Why act in the interest of the victims, or in the interest of preventing more crimes?
I’ve sent a message to Tamberg asking him to explain how Mahony’s actions as head of the church could be so reprehensible that he’s shoved aside, yet he remains in good standing. I’ll let you know what he has to say, if anything.
With Mahony, even as more evidence of his misdeeds emerges, the chance of prosecution remains slim because of the lapsed statute of limitations.
Here’s a link to the Statute of Limitations for cases of child sexual abuse in California. There is an extended statute of limitation in the case of child sexual abuse in California and the description is as follows:
Civ. Proc. Code 340.1 Effective January 1, 2003. The new law provides that actions for the recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse may be commenced on or after the victim’s 26th birthday if the person or entity against whom the action is commenced knew, had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice, of any unlawful sexual conduct by an employee, volunteer, representative, or agent, and failed to take reasonable steps, and implement reasonable safeguards, to avoid future acts of unlawful sexual conduct. Additionally, under certain circumstances, a cause of action solely for those claims listed above may be revived for a period of one (1) year. All California victims, regardless of age, have one (1) year from January 1, 2003, within which to bring a civil suit.
There are a number of cases in the documents released last week. You’d like that there are some cases that would fall within the laws described above. And if it does, it will take a large amount of courage and political will for someone in LAPD or any other law enforcement agency to approach Cardinal Mahoney and say, “you have the right to remain silent” and place the Cardinal under arrest.
No one is above the law, not even a Cardinal.