October 13, 2005

Victims Urge Mayor to Shun Jesuit Event

Los Angeles Times

By Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writer

A support group for victims of clergy abuse is pressuring Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to step down as honorary chairman of a benefit gala honoring a Jesuit leader whom they allege has protected priests accused of molestation.

In letters to the mayor in August and this week, Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests asked Villaraigosa to disassociate himself from the Oct. 22 event at Union Station honoring Father Thomas H. Smolich, the former head of the California Province of the Jesuits.

"Smolich's history of hiding known molesters and refusing to report sex crimes to law enforcement shows he is not a leader who deserves public praise," wrote Mary Grant, the group's Western regional director.

Smolich has acknowledged that the Jesuits failed to notify authorities of accusations against Father Jerold Lindner, who taught at Loyola High School in Los Angeles and has been accused of child molestation by men and women who attended the school.

The allegations arose before Smolich became head of the province in 1999.

Lindner has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing. He was named in a 1997 civil lawsuit by two brothers who alleged he abused them. The Jesuits settled the case for $625,000.

Posted by kshaw at October 13, 2005 09:54 AM