February 03, 2005

Personnel Bile

Orange County Weekly

by Gustavo Arellano

For the past two years, sex-abuse victims with civil cases against the Catholic Diocese of Orange have clamored for the release of personnel files they say will prove the church’s complicity in their molestations. That day is coming soon: on Jan. 31, diocesan officials turned over personnel files to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman as part of their $100 million settlement with sex-abuse victims, the largest in the history of the Catholic Church. Lichtman will decide at a yet-to-be-determined date what documents to release and, citing legal privileges, which to keep sealed.

Whenever that date is, it won’t come soon enough. So, as a public service, the Weekly is opening our personal archives of church documents. Every week on our website, www.ocweekly.com, readers will find a new file available for viewing or printing in a .pdf format.

Some files are public record, such as the 1986 police report in which a Huntington Beach detective investigating allegations that Andrew Christian Anderson was molesting altar boys at St. Bonaventure noted that church officials were "attempting to avoid me." Other documents include private church correspondence that illuminates how Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown spun the scandal to his priests. All of them are damning.

Our first document is a psychological profile on Monsignor Michael Harris, the former Mater Dei and Santa Margarita principal who was sued by nine plaintiffs as part of the $100 million settlement. Orange officials forced Harris to undergo the exam at the St. Luke Institute in Maryland in 1994 after pedophilia allegations first surfaced against him. In 2001, when Ryan DiMaria sued Harris and the Orange diocese and eventually settled for $5.2 million, Brown sought to keep the profile sealed, going as far as the California State Supreme Court.

Posted by kshaw at February 3, 2005 09:03 PM