By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Victims of pedophile priests called on Tuesday for renewing a criminal investigation into the role of Catholic Church leaders in Los Angeles, including Cardinal Roger Mahony, in covering up child sexual abuse as revealed in newly released Church records.
Documents made public on Monday showed that Mahony, then archbishop of the nation's largest Catholic archdiocese, worked with a top adviser to shield known molesters in the clergy from law enforcement scrutiny in the 1980s.
According to the internal Church personnel records, Mahony and a monsignor who oversaw sex abuse cases in the archdiocese, Thomas Curry, arranged with other Church officials to send pedophile priests out of state to avoid prosecution.
Mahony and Curry also tried to keep priests sent away to a Church-run pedophile treatment center from later revealing their misconduct to private therapists who would be obligated to report the crimes to police, the documents showed.
Prosecutors in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office "will review and evaluate all documents as they become available to us," a spokeswoman said.
The documents released this week, pertaining to more than a dozen clergy, came to light as part of a pending civil suit against the archdiocese on behalf of a man who claims he was sexually abused as a boy by a priest who fled to Mexico about the time he was reported to authorities.
Scandals over sex abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church, which erupted in 1992 with a series of molestation cases uncovered in Boston, have cost the Church billions of dollars in settlements and driven prominent dioceses into bankruptcy.
The Los Angeles archdiocese, which serves 4 million Catholics, reached a $660 million civil settlement in 2007 with more than 500 victims of child molestation in the biggest such agreement of its kind in the nation, and Mahony at the time called the abuse "a terrible sin and crime."
But victims' advocates have accused Church leaders of continuing to obfuscate their role in the scandal, and cite the newly released confidential letters and memos as a "smoking gun" proving complicity by Mahony and others.
"What these documents show us is how ... actively involved he was and how personally responsible he and Monsignor Curry were together for the transfer and cover-up of pedophile priests," said Joelle Casteix, a western director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
VICTIMS WANT MORE THAN A MEA CULPA
Speaking at a news conference, Casteix urged law enforcement to examine the new files to see if criminal charges can be brought against the involved church leaders.
Mahony, who retired as archbishop in 2011, retains the title of cardinal in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Curry now serves as auxiliary bishop responsible for the pastoral regions of Santa Barbara and Ventura County. Continued...