US Attorney Thomas P O’Brien has launched a federal investigation into the way the Los Angeles archdiocese, led by Cardinal Roger M Mahony, dealt with priests accused of sexual abuse. A federal grand jury will determine if some church leaders, including Mahony, violated federal law by inadequately responding to abusive priests and simply reassigning them to different parishes or schools, according to NPR.
For years, Mahony, the Catholic Church’s highest ranking official in Southern California, has faced allegations from the media and victims that he covered up priests’ misconduct. According to the Los Angeles Times, the archdiocese paid $660 million in 2007 to settle civil lawsuits with 508 people who claimed they had been abused by priests or church employees. Records on 22 priests have reportedly been subpoenaed by the grand jury.
John C. Manly, a lawyer who has brought several cases against Cardinal Mahony, told the New York Times that “my experience is, if they get this to trial and any jury sees the documents and finds out what he did, he’s finished. The documents tell the tale.”