Cardinal ‘obstructed justice’ in abuse case

Released file details prelates actions during investigations

A former Archbishop of the American Archdiocese of Los Angeles ordered his vicar for clergy not to give a list of altar boys to police investigating a clerical abuser, a newly released file reveals.

A 2013 deposition by Cardinal Roger Mahony to investigators, which was released as part of a court settlement with victims of Fr Aguilar Rivera, sees the cardinal admit that he ordered the non-disclosure of the list after two families had complained to police that the priest had molested their children.

Cardinal Mahony defends his actions on the basis that he did not want the youngsters “scarred” by the police investigation into the 1988 abuse. Police investigating the matter at that time subsequently discovered that Fr Rivera had abused 26 altar boys.

Given the circumstances of the Rivera investigation, Cardinal Mahony’s mitigation is unlikely to satisfy victims. When police first moved against Fr Rivera, the cardinal’s vicar for clergy, Msgr Thomas Curry, tipped the priest off, leading to his flight to Mexico, where he remains and is alleged to have abused many more children.

In his deposition, Cardinal Mahony is also questioned on an earlier case involving another priest, Fr Peter Garcia, who was resident in the state of New Mexico when a Los Angeles investigation into his alleged abuse began. The cardinal conceded that he had written to the priest to request that he not return to the archdiocese at that time. Cardinal Mahony insists this was not a means of assisting the priest to avoid prosecution, but merely intended to “avoid a big civil upset for the archdiocese”.


Commenting on the latest revelations, Jeff Anderson, a lawyer for some of Fr Rivera’s victims said: “The record reveals a long pattern of concealment of these crimes, aiding and abetting these crimes, the obstruction of justice, the destruction of evidence. The concealment of offenders from law enforcement, the deception to parishioners, the public, the police.”