It is evident why the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles fought for years against the release of their once-confidential “personnel” files. Approximately twelve thousand (12,000) pages were posted Thursday night to the Archdiocese’s website. Of course you cannot just click on to the files to read them. First you have to go the a page where the Archdiocese defends itself.
They “boast” that there were only 12,000 pages of secret documents and not the 30,000 that had previously reported by some news organizations. They also have a graphic to illustrate that most of the abuse took place a long time ago. By doing so, they once again demonstrate that they want to continue fooling people, instead of confronting the Archdiocese’s failings.
No one disagrees that a good deal of the child abuse occurred in the 1980’s. However, the Archdiocese actively took steps to protect its abusing clergy for decades. Sadly, this certainly resulted in more children being sexually abused.
You can read the files here: http://clergyfiles.la-archdiocese.org/listing.html.
Both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have excellent articles, which of course, were written before they had time to study all of the files released. The documents they studied showed that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles leadership had taken affirmative action to protect priests who were sex abusers and to see that they were not prosecuted.
The Archdiocese has only now taken some administrative action against Cardinal Mahoney. Obviously, they acted because the Court ordered these files to be made public. For decades the Archdiocese knew the contents of these files and tried to keep them secret. More than five years ago the Archdiocese settled a class-action suit brought on behalf of victims of childhood sexual abuse by clergy. Only now, when the incredibly damaging documents have been revealed,does the world know how corrupt and complicit was the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Hopefully, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s will scrutinize these records and determine that it is not too late to prosecute Cardinal Mahoney and others.
As we just saw again this week in Philadelphia, criminal prosecutions against both abusers and the leadership that enabled their abuse, can be won. If we are serious about protecting children, then the legal system must hold abusers and enablers responsible.
Seth Langson, Attorney at Law
The Voice for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Clergy