LOS ANGELES – Victims of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic clerics voiced anger Tuesday after newly-released records showed church leaders discussing how to cover up priests’ alleged crimes in California in the 1980s.
Prosecutors also said they wanted to study the previously confidential records, including exchanges involving then Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony about how to prevent police hearing about alleged abuse cases.
Excerpts from the documents were published Monday by The Los Angeles Times, including exchanges between Mahony and a top aide talking about how to conceal pedophile priests from law enforcement.
The records include secret memos between Mahony and Monsignor Thomas Curry, his top aide on sex abuse cases, about how to prevent police from probing three priests who had admitted to the church that they had abused young boys.
Specifically Curry suggested stopping suspected priests from seeing psychiatric therapists who might alert authorities about alleged abuse, or keeping them outside of California to avoid police investigations, the Times reported.
One such was Monsignor Peter Garcia, who admitted abusing children in mostly Spanish-speaking parishes for decades. He was sent to a New Mexico treatment center for pedophile clergy, and Mahony ordered that he stay outside California.
“I believe that if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors,” Mahony wrote in July 1986.
“There are numerous — maybe twenty — adolescents or young adults that Peter was involved with in a first degree felony manner,” wrote Curry in May 1987.
Reacting Tuesday, Joelle Casteix of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said: “We were shocked and disgusted to see these documents.”
Mahony “personally managed the careers of predator priests,” she said outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.
“He and other high-ranking (LA clergy) including now-Bishop Curry worked diligently to ensure that men who hurt children, who abused children and who destroyed communities were never going to see a day behind bars.”
A spokeswoman for the LA District Attorney’s office said prosecutors “will review and evaluate all documents as they become available to us,” the Times said.