May 18, 2005

Second chances

The Orange County Register

The Orange County Register

Diocese of Orange leaders enabled the sexual abuse of Catholic children by accepting or keeping known pedophiles in parish work, by ignoring warnings about abusive priests and by misleading parishioners, a review of church records shows.

Fifteen once-sealed personnel files, made public Tuesdayas part of a record $100 million settlement of child sexual-abuse cases, provide a window into the minds of men of the cloth in Orange County from the 1960s to 1990s. A judge ruled the diocese must release other secret documents, including psychological reports and correspondence between church leaders, within a week.

The details of many of the cases have been revealed in lawsuits and previous news stories: boys sodomized by priests they trusted; a high school girl impregnated and given a sexually transmitted disease.

But other cases are new: A man who alleges he was molested for three years by a priest who later died of AIDS. That man received the highest settlement of any of the 90 victims: $3.7 million.

The files also reveal the extent to which diocesan bishops, chancellors and other church leaders routinely forgave priests for abusing children, paid for counseling, then welcomed them back to pastoral work - sometimes two or three times.

Posted by kshaw at May 18, 2005 05:36 AM