Moral Low Ground


LA Times Exhaustively Details Cardinal Roger Mahony’s Complicity in Clergy Child Sex Abuse

(Photo: Boston Archdiocese/Flickr Creative Commons)

(Photo: Boston Archdiocese/Flickr Creative Commons)

The Los Angeles Times has published extensive details chronicling Cardinal Roger Mahony’s complicity in a massive child sex abuse scandal involving hundreds of priests and other clergy members.

The Times‘ lengthy report is based on more than 23,000 pages of internal documents from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which was presided over by Archbishop Mahony for nearly a quarter century until his retirement in 2010. The article details Mahony’s active involvement in covering up clergy sex abuse and protecting pedophile priests from prosecution, going back to 1986, his first year as archbishop, when a priest told him he molested two boys.

That priest, Father Michael Baker, raped or molested at least 23 boys, some as young as 5 years old, over the course of 26 years. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years behind bars in 2007. But long before that, Mahony decided to not report Baker to police. Instead, the archbishop sent him for ‘treatment’ in New Mexico. After completing therapy, Baker was welcomed back into the fold. He continued to abuse children for many years.

The Times article details how Mahony repeatedly refused to report child-raping clergy to police, transferring criminal abusers out of state to avoid investigations. Many of those transferred clergy continued to rape and molest children.

Interestingly, Mahony kept detailed records of alleged clergy sex abuse, believing that they would prove how much he was trying to stop abuse in his archdiocese. But in the end, those very notes would be used against him by the Times, which has shown in extraordinary detail how the cardinal was complicit in the crimes of his clergy.

This isn’t the first time the Times has examined Mahony’s role in covering up clergy sex abuse in his archdiocese. In January, the paper published a lengthy article about how the cardinal conspired to protect colleagues accused of committing sex crimes against children. The following month, the Times revealed that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had quietly added the names of two dozen priests and other clergymen to its list of individuals suspected of sexually assaulting children, bringing the total number of suspected or confirmed pedophile priests and clergy to over 230.

In 2007, Cardinal Mahony and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles apologized for decades of abuse and cover-up after more than 500 victims reached a record $660 million settlement with the Catholic Church.

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