Priest sex-abuse files, minus church officials' names, ready for release in LA
LOS ANGELES — In its landmark $660 million settlement with victims of sexual abuse five years ago, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to make public the confidential personnel records of all priests accused of molesting children.
Victims said the release of the files would provide accountability for church leaders who let pedophiles remain in ministry, and law enforcement officials suggested that the documents could lead to criminal cases against those in charge.
After years of delays and legal wrangling, the files are set to become public in coming weeks.
But the documents have been scrubbed of what many regard as the most important information: the identities of the members of the church hierarchy who reshuffled abusers.
The names of the former cardinal, Roger M. Mahony, and the bishops and vicars who handled molestation complaints for him have been redacted by church lawyers at the direction of a retired federal judge managing the files' release.
In handing down that decision last year, the judge, Dickran Tevrizian, said the archdiocese had endured enough criticism and that he wanted to prevent the files from being used to “embarrass or to ridicule the church.” The documents in question include internal memos, Vatican correspondence and psychiatric reports.
“You know that the church recycles priests. Now you want to know who in the clergy recycled. For what useful purpose? The case is settled,” Tevrizian told lawyers for 562 people who settled sex-abuse claims against the archdiocese.
The terms of the agreement prohibit the archdiocese and the victims from appealing the redactions, but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias, who is overseeing the settlement, has the final say. She has ruled that “any other interested person or entity” can ask her to review Tevrizian's decisions on the files' release.
Some abuse victims are hoping the judge decides to release the full, unredacted files, saying that would be in keeping with the settlement. Manuel Vega, a retired police officer who settled with the archdiocese over his abuse as an altar boy in Oxnard, said the officials' names were essential in documenting the history of how the church handled allegations of child molestation.
“One of the first things I'm going to be looking for is, ‘Who knew?' And who knew is what's going to be redacted,” he said.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times filed a motion urging Elias to overrule the redactions of church officials' names.
“Without this information, the public will never know what the church knew, and when, because the names that might demonstrate that particular church officials knew about more than one instance of misconduct — whether by a single priest or by multiple priests —will be forever hidden,” lawyers for the newspaper wrote.
The accused clergy have filed their own objections to Tevrizian's order, contending that the files should remain sealed to protect the priests' privacy and other rights.
Lawyers for the archdiocese recently completed redacting the documents, a process that took more than a year, and are awaiting Elias' final ruling.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Replacement part beamed up to space station
- Traffic deaths down 3 percent
- Bondage ‘Master Bob’ Bashara convicted in wife’s slaying in Detroit area
- FBI blames North Korea for Sony hack
- Bill to bolster federal record access goes without House vote
- Family of man shot dead by police in Ohio Wal-Mart sues
- Attorney General Holder, Justice Department target bias against transgender employees
- Facebook could expand on ‘like’ button, CEO Zuckerberg says
- Life terms with no parole for young on docket of Supreme Court
- Supreme Court will hear dispute over toy
- New York move to ban fracking heartens critics