While researching some predator priests in Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Archdiocese, we at Horowitz Law stumbled on a few disturbing facts about what is really going on behind the scenes in LA.
Disturbing Fact #1: At least 355 proven, admitted, and credibly accused abusive Catholic clergy are or have been in that one jurisdiction. That’s not a typo, 355. That figure comes from perhaps the nation’s most comprehensive and trusted source of information on the church’s continuing crisis, BishopAccountability.org. The Archdiocese consists of 288 parishes, which means that, on average, every single church in the sprawling area has been ‘served’ by MORE than one child molester.
Disturbing Fact #2: Los Angeles Catholic officials have DELETED their list of predator priests at least twice over the years. They did this for the first time in November 2008. According to BA.org, “This very significant change was apparently not flagged on the archdiocesan website.” In other words, no explanation was given for the sudden redaction of every child molesting cleric’s name. There still are child molester clergy on the run from the law, that had been criminally convicted, or had served prison time but were now walking free. Thankfully, the diligent researchers at BA.org noticed this self-serving move by archdiocesan officials and contacted them in May 2012.
In December of that same year, the Archdiocese once again listed the names more than six months later. But this was an entire decade after Los Angeles’ Cardinal Roger Mahony and his colleagues across the US adopted the so-called “Charter for the Protect of Children,” in which they pledged to replace decades of reckless secrecy with full transparency about abuse. And it was after they were ‘caught’ being duplicitous by a widely-respected archive organization.
A mere two years later, in February of 2014, archdiocesan staffers again deleted their ‘credibly accused’ list again without warning or explanation. Obviously, they later reversed course again and the list can now be found here.
Disturbing Fact #3: In 2013, the Archdiocese listed, but did not name, six accused abusers, calling them Z-I, Z-II, Z-III, etc. Why would they not list the names?
Disturbing Fact #4: Listed on its website, the Archdiocese claims that its child protection efforts “are among the most effective in the nation at preventing abuse and dealing with allegations of abuse.” We at Horowitz Law beg to differ and challenge Archbishop Jose Gomez to prove this deceptive claim. The oddities and omissions don’t end here.
Disturbing Fact #5: One year ago, Archbishop Jose Gomez ‘updated’ the Los Angeles predator priest list. He added a category called “Status,” in which clerics are deemed ‘Retired,’ ‘Inactive,’ ‘Left Archdiocese, ‘ ‘Administrative Leave,’ ‘Lay State,’ ‘No Faculties to Minister,’ ‘Exonerated,’ ‘Excardinated,’ ‘Deceased.’ or ‘Lifetime of Prayer and Penance.’ Progress, right? At that same time, Gomez no longer provides assignment lists for the accused abusers. That’s right: now, no one has any idea where any of these offenders worked, whether they spent years at one parish or worked at 10 or 12 or 15 parishes, and suddenly moved without explanation after one or more victim, witness, or whistleblower spoke up.
And it’s interesting to note how hard the Los Angeles Archdiocese works to distance itself from some of these predators. At least one, for instance, Fr. Manuel Sanchez, is listed as ‘Retired/Residing out of the country.’ There is no disclosure about specifically where he is now. Gomez apparently is signaling to his flock, “No need to worry. Fr. Sanchez is not around here now. Your kids are safe.” But he could be at another diocese.
And presumably, since we’re dealing with literally hundreds of accused child molesters, it can’t be a coincidence that none of them are listed as ‘Retired/Residing right here in our community now.’ To his credit, Gomez at least mentions that Fr. Stanislaus Poon was ‘excardinated’ to the Diocese of Oakland, Fr. Gaspar Bautista was ‘excardinated’ to the Diocese of Fresno, and Fr. Charles Fatooh went on to be ordained in the Diocese of Monterey. Notice, however, the implication that these clerics are essentially ‘free agents,’ going wherever they want to go. The implication is that no one in the church hierarchy sent these men anywhere. Therefore, no bishop, archbishop, cardinal, or vicar general did anything wrong. There is ZERO accountability.
And what are we to make of this odd category? PRIESTS WITH NO ASSIGNMENT IN THE ARCHDIOCESE. This group includes Fr. Jesus Jess Dominguez, Fr. Thomas J. Mohan, Fr. Ernest Paone, and Fr. Fidel Rosas Flores. At least two of these priests are deceased, which obviously explains why they have no assignment. But how are these men different from those in other categories?
In short, the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s list of proven, admitted, and credibly accused child molesting clerics is far less helpful and inclusive than it should be. It is far more vague and confusing than it should be. It sure seems as if this is precisely what Archbishop Gomez and his top aides want. But then again, Catholic church corruption has been going on for decades. Thoughts?