October 18, 2005

Content of L.A. report on clergy abuse disputed



The 155-page report describing decades of clergy sexual abuse in Los Angeles is a just-the-facts account of an institution slowly coming to grips with a horrendous problem, according to archdiocesan officials. Not so, say victim advocates and their attorneys, who view the documents released by the archdiocese as a tale of malevolent mismanagement by church leaders more concerned with image than the well-being of children.

The documents, released Oct. 12, “show the evolution of how the problem of sex abuse was dealt with over time by church officials,” said Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the archdiocese. “At first, it was treated as a sin, then in the 1970s and 1980s therapy seemed the way to go. Finally, there was the horrible realization of the repetitive nature of sexual abuse, and it became clear that ‘zero tolerance’ was the only way to ensure the safety of children.”

Rather than a good-faith effort to describe the phenomenon of clergy sex abuse, the report is “a dumbed-down, sanitized version of the very ugly history of the church moving and manipulating [offending] priests without ever warning parishioners,” said Raymond Boucher, the Los Angeles attorney representing nearly 300 alleged clergy abuse victims. The real story of hierarchical complicity with priest-predators will only be known, said Boucher, when the archdiocese agrees to release the underlying priest personnel files upon which the report is based.

The report is essentially a timeline of the careers and accusations made against 126 archdiocesan and religious order priests in Los Angeles dating back more than 50 years. What it indisputably provides is the first behind-the-curtain look at the activities of clergy abusers and the reaction of their superiors in the nation’s largest archdiocese.

Posted by kshaw at October 18, 2005 05:04 PM