Catholic priest child sex abuse files released, at last, by LA archdiocese

After years of legal battles, The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has grudgingly released files on priests accused of sexually abusing children. An announcement from the church about the document dump is here (PDF). You can browse the files yourself at

Reuters: "The 12,000 pages of files were made public more than a week after church records relating to 14 priests were unsealed as part of a separate civil suit, showing that church officials plotted to conceal the molestation from law enforcement as late as 1987."

Scanned documents from church files on each of the priests known to have molested children are here, listed in alpha order of the each priest's name. Major trigger warning. They include explicit accounts of abuse testimony, and in some cases, letters of denial from officials within the church.

The Archdiocese this week also removed Cardinal Roger Mahony from his duties, for his role in enabling and keeping quiet the methodical and widespread molestation. The removal is "unprecedented," but many victims and advocates believe Mahony deserves greater punishment. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, who helped Mahony hide abusers from police in the eighties, has resigned his post as regional bishop in Santa Barbara, CA.

The current Archbishop of Los Angeles issued this statement on the documents release (PDF).

I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.

Too bad hell isn't real. More from the Los Angeles Times on how these files show new evidence of attempts by Curry and Mahony to block police investigations:

In a 1988 memo about Father Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera, a Mexican priest accused of molesting more than 20 boys during a nine-month stay in Los Angeles, Curry expressed a desire to keep a list of parish altar boys from investigators.

"The whole issue of our records is a very sensitive one, and I am reluctant to give any list to the police," Curry wrote.

At the bottom of the memo, Mahony replied: "We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever."

The police charged Aguilar-Rivera, but after receiving a warning from Curry, he went to Mexico. He remains a fugitive.

Here's Aguilar-Rivera's file (PDF). There are tens of thousands more documents where that came from.

Image: Shutterstock.


  1. Unusual for me to find a cleric who can actually lower my opinion of the Church while simultaneously making me wish hell really did exist so he could scream for eternity

  2. Someone, at some time was more interested in protecting their reputation than they were in protecting or leading the people who trusted them. Anyone who thinks the same organization won’t behave in exactly the same way again if forced to choose is denying the evidence of history, both recent and ancient.

    I’m so glad I came to my senses and abandoned this “faith” before having kids of my own. I’m equally glad to have gotten through my childhood without becoming a victim myself (so glad my parents didn’t want me to be an altar boy. My childhood parish had one of these pedo priests, we later discovered). If I were one of the abused or one of their parents, I’d be howling for blood. It saddens me that so many Catholics have chosen to rationalize the actions of their church (my parents included) rather than demand change. They’ve convinced themselves that the half-measures and token gestures of the last decade are meaningful acts of contrition and self-awareness, when really the church is doing as little as they can possibly get away with in the hope it all blows over some day.

    I weep for my species.

    1. Someone, at some time was more interested in protecting their reputation than they were in protecting or leading the people who trusted them.

      The rationale at the time was all about “protecting the Church.” Somehow it didn’t occur to the good Cardinal or his colleagues that those children and their families WERE the Church.

  3. I don’t know what else the church CAN do to Mahoney. It’s up to the civil authorities now.

    Also, bishop Curry was removed as well, according to the NY Times.

    1. They could change the meaning of “removed” to stripped naked, forced to wear the Lady Gaga meat dress, and dropped in the middle of a starving pack of carnivores…

      Oh Excommunication, thats a good one… that’ll teach them they were wrong to be the sacrificial lambs in a long lasting wide ranging conspiracy of covering up abuse.

      Fire ants and honey…

      From the people who gave the world the inquisition… I expect a hell of alot more than… we took your name off your office turn in your parking permit.

  4. I want to say that in a just world there will be criminal penalties not only for the priests who harmed children but for those who covered it up. But then I realize that in a just world there never would have been a cover-up, and these crimes would not have been allowed to go on for as long as they did. In a just world these crimes might never have occurred at all.

    And since I can only conclude that we don’t live in a just world, and, based on recent history, I fear only a few of the perpetrators will be punished, and even most of them will get a legal slap on the wrist. 

  5. If the Buddhists are correct, then Hell does exist, not as a fiery pit filled with the wailing souls of the wretched, but as a return to this world driven by karma, which means many of these “priests” will find themselves coming back as microbes or stink bugs or some form of vermin, and their climb uphill will be a long one.

  6. Currently, the Milwaukee Archdiocese is fighting hard to separate church assets and declare bankruptcy.  All to prevent paying out legal civil awards to victims of the numerous pedophile priests, including Lawrence Murphy.  Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God is currently being broadcast on HBO. It details the abuse of children at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee and how Pope Ratzi in his earlier church roles worked to cover it up.

    I grew up two blocks from St.Johns. It was part of the larger Archdiocese complex of a Girls HS, Boys HS and Seminary; as well as the Archbishop’s residence. During the 1970’s & ’80s, we played at St.John’s playground. We ran wild on the wooded seminary grounds.  But as is the wisdom of children, handed down to us was the lore of the priests.  YOU MUST NEVER LET THEM GET NEAR YOU.  

    Some of us were Catholics, many more were not.  As every neighborhood has a childhood bogeyman; ours were the priests that lived and worked at the Seminary. (As the entire complex was called.)  We knew. All the neighborhood kids knew. It was part of the kid code of honor to warn new kids about staying away from the priests.  How is it possible that all the children know what was/is happening yet the adults turn a blind eye?

    Lawrence Murphy is a criminal. A criminal that committed his crimes in my neighborhood. And still, the church is trying to prevent his victims from getting their justice.  I can only think that Pope Ratzi has taken Pope Leo XII as his guiding muse.  As Pope Leo famously said, “This myth of Christ has served us well.”

  7. Anyone remember when America lost it’s collective (their collective?) mind when this happened?

    She went from America’s new sweetheart to public enemy no. 1 pretty fast. She has since been kind of vindicated, but the damage to her career has already been done.

    That being said, I think there has been a long nasty streak of anti-Catholicism in this country, and we absolutely need to be able to disconnect what the church and those who run the church has done from most catholics, especially considering that it was young catholics who were the victims here. I don’t see anyone here doing that, of course, but it can easily slip into talk of “papist” and whatnot rather than a discussion of the problems of institutions…

    1. I agree with the sentiment. Most Catholics just want to carry on with their lives as best they can like the rest of us. They do what they hope is the best they can for themselves, their families and their communities.

      But the Church which aided and abetted these terrible crimes is empowered by the inaction of the laity. The only people who can effect real change within the Catholic church are the people who choose to support it (or not support it, as the case may be). As long as the laity fails to put adequate pressure on the episcopacy, the bishops and cardinals will continue to do whatever they think they have to in order to “protect” the hierarchy of the church. 

      There are Catholics who are angry. There are Catholics who are demanding more. But they are sadly the minority. The rest need to step up and accept their responsibility for blindly trusting an organization that did not deserve that trust. They should not be given a free pass any more than the bishops and cardinals who helped cover this all up. There were signs. There were accusations. There was evidence! Nobody acted because they implicitly trusted their priests and bishops. They turned off the critical thinking part their brains and let the Church serve as their autopilot. They need to be encouraged to never do that again.

      1.  Fair enough on that point… It’s sad that some catholics are unwilling to go the extra mile to demand change in their institutions given that it’s their chiildren who are the victims (I’m guessing though the ones who aren’t doing anything have children who were abused), but I’m not just sure it’s out of pure laziness or apathy on their part. Bucking the system would have serious consequences for them in some cases I’m sure. That being said, I think you are correct that they can force the church to change. They would have to be backed up by those within the church (priests, bishops, nuns, etc) who are willing to put their jobs on the line and force change as well. 

        1. A lot of people hate children, including their own. And a lot of Catholics had a lot of children solely because the Church told them not to use birth control. If they’re not a blessing so much as expensive, annoying byproducts of fucking, who cares what happens to them? And that attitude is going to correlate with the people who are most likely to blindly support the Church.

    2. Anyone remember when America lost it’s collective (their collective?) mind when this happened?

      It didn’t go down so well in her native Dublin either.

    3.  I’ve been raised RC. That’s short for remotely controlled, as you know. I think I’ve earned myself a right to hate these fuckers. If you’re a Catholic and you still don’t rub the sleep out of your eyes and walk away, I think you still have a stake in the blame.

    4. She has since been kind of vindicated

      As in ignored because she admitted that she has bipolar disorder? And because she’s actually a New Age Christian nutbag.

    5. Gosh, I wonder where that “long nasty streak of anti-Catholicism” comes from?

      I think you’re confusing anti-Catholicism with anti-Catholic.  Growing up in the RCC I’ve seen plenty of the former, and none of the latter.  I also remember the nuns telling us to hold our breath as we passed the Protestant church “because the Devil lives there.”  Each group of leaders disses the competition because they’re all feeding from a finite trough of available local cash. Butts in pews means dollars in the basket.

  8. The Bible should be banned!

    Here are several really loving excerpts from the Torah; the first five books of the Old Testament in the bible — perhaps read to the congregation on Friday night at a synagogue or a Sunday morning church in the meadow.

    1.     Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own.  Deuteronomy 13:6-10

    2.     Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you.  Deuteronomy 13:12-16

    3.     Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own.  Deuteronomy 17:2-7.

    Rabbinical/ Priestly rules:

    Leviticus 21:17-18 … “No one who is blind or lame or has a defect or any blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God.” 

    Leviticus 18:22 … “You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination ….”

    Rabbis; the pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to rabbis and priests … refuse to remove this stigma maliciously persecuting gays.  Kids are being bullied into suicide …!

    Being black, left-handed or being gay is just as natural.  It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return … it is something that should be celebrated!   If it’s between two guys or two girls — all the better.  It takes even more courage to defend that LOVE!

    1. Whenever I point out stuff like that to true believers, they answer back, “But don’t you see, that’s all in the OLD Testament!” And so, it supposedly doesn’t matter.

      1. Until it does, like 20 minutes later when it’s time to go queer bashing.

        But take a step back and the Pentateuch is about 500 pages of bragging about committing genocide.  The one redeeming quality of it is that it’s all lies.  If any of it was true it would be a catalog of some of the worst atrocities committed by man before the machine age.

        So I guess I’m saying it’s a weird choice to start off the book of the religion of love.

      2. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

        Adios, dental dam!

  9. Mahony does deserve greater punishment for covering up and obstructing criminal investigations into molestation. Of course, if the justice system calls him to account he’ll just do the midnight flit to Vatican City like his fellow racketeer, Bernie “The Shuffler” Law.

  10. interesting how Father Smith – someone who was known for molesting boys at at least two parishes in Baltimore – didn’t make the list.  maybe it’s because he committed suicide before he could be convicted?

    edited to add: i’m an idiot and didn’t actually read everything. LA =/= Baltimore. ignore me.

  11. If there really is a god, Mahoney will end up in prison for obstruction of justice. It was clear he was lying about this for literally decades. His relentless politicking and egomania in Los Angeles over getting the Our Lady of Angels Cathedral built was nauseating.

    1. It’s not obstruction of justice, it’s conspiracy to commit and aiding and abetting.  He should be charged with the actual sex crimes, not just with obstruction.

  12. Not everybody accused and named in these files is necessarily guilty.

    But nobody’s going to care; everyone will line up to lynch the falsely accused right alongside the vicious predators.

    I know a fellow who was in the Boy Scout’s “perversion files”.  The men who accused him are dead, and no minor ever made accusations against him, but he is now considered to be a child predator by millions of newspaper readers.  The local Gannet rag ran a front page headline “LOCAL MEN IN BSA PERVERSION FILES” which named him and published where he lives, with no prior warning.

    We may claim that we don’t trust or believe in the Catholic Church, but how many of you are willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to the people named in these lists without any other evidence?

    The people who will suffer from this despite having done no wrong are victims, too.  The Catholic Church (and the BSA) had a policy that not only harmed children, it harmed many others in the community, and now that includes the falsely accused who can no longer clear their names.

    EDIT: the released files only name persons plausibly believed by the court system to have committed crimes, either child molestation or conspiracy to cover it up. These are not like the BSA file dump was; my mistake for firing off a post without following the links first.

      1. I just went and looked at the files, so I am editing the hell out of this.

        The situation is not analogous to the BSA one; I have overstated the similarities. but I’ll leave my previous comment stand so as not to scramble the thread.

        I know a man who was accused by the BSA.  During the time period that he supposedly committed crimes against young men, I spent a good deal of time alone with him.  I was 14 years old or thereabouts; the age he was supposedly molesting.  I met him because I was riding my bicycle home from school, and saw him using an old nail for a welding rod to patch a hole in a once-beautiful antique Mercedes.  I have always been intrigued by that sort of thing; classic cars and clever engineering hacks.

        I helped him rebuild that car completely over the course of several years, and during that time I don’t remember him every making any sort of advances towards me, despite the Boy Scouts’ later insistence that he could never safely be left alone with a child. I remained friendly with him for years, until I moved away, and my parents knew him long after.

        Apparently this man is gay (I had no idea – my gaydar is terrible) and since the Boy Scouts are incapable of distinguishing between paedophiles and homosexuals, when another scout leader accused him of being unmanly, the BSA national organization asked him to defend himself in a private kangaroo court.  When asked directly, this gentleman stated that he was indeed gay, but that he had no age inappropriate relationships with any boys in or out of scouting.  The BSA promptly banned him from scout leadership for life, and made an entry in their famous files stating that he was unfit to be in the presence of children.  Because of the secret nature of the proceedings of the BSA he was tried and convicted without proper evidence – and without any child making any accusation against him.

        What I’m trying to say is that these organizations are provably untrustworthy, and provably abusive of children, and one of the many evil things that will come from all this is that any who were falsely accused will never remove the stain from their reputations.

        You, of course, are free to make your own decision of who is a trustworthy source.

      1. Having gone and looked at the settlement terms and released documents (which was sort of like bathing in rancid snot) I’ve realized this isn’t analogous to the BSA file release.

        These records only specifically name people that the court system has very strong reasons to believe are guilty of crimes.  Other names are, as you note, redacted.

        By contrast, the BSA dumped files naming everyone ever accused, regardless of the plausibility of the accusations.

        Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

  13. I think what a lot of people miss is that these events are not anomalies.  When you have an extremely authoritarian system that relies on using guilt about sexuality to control people, things like this are inevitable and essential parts of that system. All the priests covering for these guys understand this at some level.  Everything about that system is tied in with this and is completely fucked up. 
    Also,  that system and others like it still have so much power in this country that nobody in authority will actually do anything about them.  If our justice system were a tenth as zealous about going after these guys as they are about hounding nonviolent progressive political organizations, they would be going after everyone who knew about this and didn’t immediately give all the evidence to the cops for obstruction of justice.  That they aren’t really shows where their priorities lie.   If our government weren’t complete cowards when it comes to dealing with Christians, we would have everyone who tried to cover this stuff up in jail, and refuse visas for all church officials (all the way up to the pope) like we would for members of organized crime gangs until the vatican handed over the people hiding there to face justice.

    1. To put it another way, you can’t have Catholicism in anything resembling its current form without kiddie rape, or Sunni or Shia Islam in anything resembling their current forms without institutionalized rape and oppression of women, any more than you can have Fascism without a minority for your paramilitary thugs to go out and beat up.   If you don’t start out with a suitable minority, you can just make one up (eg kulaks), but you need one for the system to work.

  14. i mean, what the catholic church did to first nations people in Canada is so horrific… no words to describe it.

    and yes, the cover up is even worse than the abuse. 

  15. Interesting. I was taught by three of the priests on the list at two different high schools back in the early-mid 80s. One of them actually went to jail for a while after being sentenced in 2006. Probably one of the more superstitious/gullible priests I’ve ever met. One was a notorious flirt with the girls who seemed like a cool guy initially, and revealed himself to be a vain, preening asshole after a few months. Another had a gloriously scandalous affair with another pseudo priest after being made bishop of Santa Rosa, iirc, and ended up scamming a shitload of church money in the process. 

    I knew a couple other priests on the list. One of them killed himself after being exposed. 

    Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been all kinds of fucked up for a pretty long time.  

  16. Let’s ask ourselves this really hard, uncomfortable question: you’re a devout worshipper – would YOU have encouraged your child to report the crime, or covered it up by denying that it happened?

    In hindsight, we like to think of ourselves as courageous and and protective, but when the reality hits – what do you do?

    1.  I’m pretty sure I would have overreacted and done something shameful, but at least the priests involved would commit no further crimes.

      Still, we never know until the moment arrives…

    2. The question begins with a bizarre premise.  If I was a devout worshipper than maybe I would have participated in the coverup, but being a devout worshipper and being myself are completely incompatible.  You are essentially asking whether I think that people who are devout catholics would cover up the sex abuse of their own children, and horribly enough I think that some would.  But that is commentary on what I think about devout catholics, not about my own convictions or courage.

      If you were instead to ask something like, “Would you have hidden jews in your house during the holocaust?” then you might expose me as someone as courageous as I would like to be, because I can’t say I would have actually risked my life rather than be cowed by the state.

      But would I protect someone who has no extraordinary powers of life and death over me after they sexually abused my children in order to save face in my community?  Absolutely not, and if I did I would welcome being charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy and/or aiding and abetting.  I would deserve it.

  17. Catholic priest child sex abuse files

    For a second I thought the headline said, “Catholic priest files against child for sex abuse” and I had some cognitive dissonance until I re-read it again.

  18. What a surprise… the church covering up horrible crimes because it is their own people committing the acts. All religions are like this to some extent. Why would people be live in this criminal institutions is something I don’t get.

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