May 19, 2005

California diocese actively sought to hide abuse, report claims

Detroit Free Press

May 19, 2005, 8:44 PM

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Leaders of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange scripted public statements to hide sexual misconduct involving a priest and a choir teacher, according to a newspaper account of sealed documents that were accidentally released.

The documents reveal the role of church officials in crafting statements to parishioners when the priest and teacher were forced to leave the diocese after acknowledging the misconduct, The Orange County Register reported Thursday.

Editor Ken Brusic said The Register decided to publish information from the documents -- over the objections of the diocese and the plaintiff's attorney who inadvertently released the files -- because clergy child abuse is a "matter of compelling public interest."

"We obtained the documents legally, and found they contained new and important information," Brusic said in a note accompanying the story.

The material published by the paper includes information on the Rev. John E. Ruhl and Thomas Hodgman, a former teacher at the diocese's Mater Dei High School. Hodgman has publicly claimed he is innocent; Ruhl has refused to comment.

Posted by kshaw at May 19, 2005 08:03 PM