The Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese released personnel files yesterday as part of settlement talks with 560 alleged victims of priest sexual abuse. The documents, which were edited to delete revealing details about both the priests and the alleged victims, revealed that in many cases over the past several decades, priests accused of pedophilia were transferred to other dioceses often in other states, where they often went on to commit more sexual abuse of children.
Raymond P. Boucher, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs in suits against the Archdiocese that could cost the Church $1 billion, said, according to the New York Times, that the edited files “do not contain the full story of the participation by the church in the manipulation and movement of these priests É The full files would show how deep and pervasive this problem was and how much the church put its own interests ahead of those of the children and others who were molested by the priests.”
The files show that at least 245 priests have been accused of sexual abuse of minors; the Archdiocese had placed this number at 219. According to the documents, at least eight priests were allowed to remain in the ministry in the presence of children, even after they were accused of molesting children, the Los Angeles Times reports. For example, in 1986, Rev. Michael Baker on his own volition told then-Archbishop Roger Mahoney (now a Cardinal) about his sexual relationships with two young boys from 1978-1985. Rather than reporting the matter to the police, Mahoney sent Baker to counseling and prohibited him from coming into close contact with minors. But the documents show that Baker was soon reassigned to parishes where he molested as many as 20 more boys until he was removed from the priesthood in 2000, according to the New York Times.