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Orange County Diocese Releases Files of Priests Accused of Sex Abuse

As part of a $100 million settlement with 90 alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests in Orange County, California, the Orange County diocese on Tuesday released confidential personnel files of 15 of the accused priests and teachers. The some 10,000 pages of letters, handwritten notes, and other documents revealed that in many instances Church officials transferred priests accused of sex abuse to other dioceses, lied to parishioners and family members of victims, and failed to notify police or child services, according to the Associated Press. Eight of the accused priests and educators refused to allow their records to be released, and a judge ruled he was “powerless” to force the release of those documents, the Los Angeles Times reports. Another 21 accused clergy members were not part of the settlement, so their records were not among those released by Orange County Bishop Tod D. Brown.

Of those responsible for covering up the sex abuse scandal in Orange County, two men remain in positions with the Church. Bishop Michael P. Driscoll, now bishop of the Diocese of Boise, Idaho, issued an apology on the diocese’s website earlier this month in anticipation of the release of the files, saying, “I am deeply sorry that the way we handled cases at that time allowed children to be victimized by permitting some priests to remain in ministry, for not disclosing their behavior to those who might be at risk, and for not monitoring their actions more closely.”

Mary Brown, western regional director of SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), issued a statement calling on Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles to follow Bishop Brown’s lead and “finally come clean about sexually abusive clerics and complicit church officials in his archdiocese.” The Los Angeles archdiocese is facing lawsuits from more than 500 people which could result in an estimated settlement of $1 billion, according to Reuters.

Sources:

LA Times 5/18/05, 5/19/05; Bishop Driscoll statement 5/6/05; Associated Press 5/19/05; Reuters 5/18/05; SNAP statement 5/17/05