May 19, 2005

California Diocese's Documents Show Abuse Cover-Up

The New York Times

Published: May 19, 2005
LOS ANGELES, May 18 - Thousands of pages of confidential church documents detailing sexual abuses by priests in Orange County, Calif., were released this week, exposing the extent to which clergy members, one of them now a bishop elsewhere, concealed accusations of abuse.

In the documents, unveiled Tuesday under a court order after a $100 million settlement of charges involving 90 accusers, senior officials of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County were shown to have routinely moved priests and church employees accused of sexual misconduct from parish to parish, usually without warning anyone of the extent of the accusations against them and often providing glowing reports of their abilities. At the same time, the documents show, families that complained of certain priests' behavior toward their children were often ignored or told lies.

In one case, the Rev. Eleuterio Ramos, who admitted to the police in 2003 that he had molested at least 25 boys, including involvement in the gang-rape of a boy in a San Diego hotel room in 1984, was transferred in 1985 to a parish in Tijuana, Mexico, where the Orange County Diocese continued to send him a monthly paycheck and pay his car expenses. The Tijuana Diocese was not informed of the full extent of the priest's abuses, according to the documents. Father Ramos died last year.

Against objections from church officials, Judge Peter D. Lichtman of Los Angeles Superior Court ordered the Orange County Diocese, which has more than a million parishioners, to release personnel files, letters between church leaders and psychological reports of priests, although the diocese, citing privacy concerns, succeeded in withholding parts of some priests' files. Lawyers for some plaintiffs said they would appeal.

Posted by kshaw at May 19, 2005 04:37 AM