By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Gustavo ArellanoNow that the Orange diocese sex-abuse scandal is officially settled—a Dec. 6 conference disclosed the total at a record-breaking $100 million—pundits will speak of winners and losers. You'll hear of Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown, the church's reputation, NAMBLA. But here are five winners and five losers that won't get as much coverage:
Manly & McGuire: The Costa Mesa-based law firm primarily deals with real-estate law but represented 30 of the 87 cases against the Orange diocese. The tenacity of its three lead employees—attorneys John Manly (nicknamed "Mad Dog" Manly by church lawyers), Ryan DiMaria and monk-turned-researcher Patrick Wall—ensured that the settlement included the public release of priest-personnel files victims claim will show church complicity in their molestations. Thanks to their bulldog reputation, Manly, DiMaria and Wall are pursuing similar cases across the country. Next giant to slay: the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
Judge Jim Gray: In 2001, Gray ordered the Orange and Los Angeles dioceses to pay DiMaria $5.2 million for abuse he alleged at the hands of Michael Harris, the former principal of Mater Dei and Santa Margarita high schools. At the time, it was the largest single-plaintiff, pretrial settlement in the history of the Catholic Church. More significantly, Gray forced Brown to disclose psychological records that diagnosed Harris with a sexual attraction to young boys. DiMaria vs. Harris came before the Boston archdiocese sex scandal and established a precedent for every priestly molestation case since.
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests: For two years, five or six women from this group—all local survivors—calmly leafleted outside parishes that housed suspected pedophiles, withstanding verbal and physical abuse by angry parishioners. Special citation goes out to Joelle Casteix, a 33-year-old Corona del Mar resident who was as quick with a quip to reporters as she was with an insightful quote.
Joe Dunn: The state senator for the 34th District and parishioner at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange was the quiet force behind Senate Bill 1779, the landmark California law that suspended the civil statute of limitations on sex-abuse claims for 2003 and allowed molestation victims to sue their predators. According to the June 25, 2003, San Francisco Weekly,Dunn—who represented priestly sex-abuse victims before entering politics—introduced victims' lawyers to state Senators John Burton and Maria Escutia, the eventual co-sponsors of SB 1779.
Television Newsmagazines: While The Orange County Registerand Los Angeles Timeslargely slept this year, the major television networks documented the church hierarchy at its pedo-spinning worst. In February, Nightline broadcast a fumbling, choking Brown, who couldn't even sputter out "yes" to correspondent Ron Claiborne's question of whether diocesan leaders should have known and done something about pedophilic priests. And CNN's NewsNight With Aaron Brown promises to drop a bombshell about Harris before year's end.
Orange County Republican Party: The county GOP owes much of its strength to a chummy relationship with the Orange diocese, one that began in earnest thanks to former party chairman Tom Fuentes, who served as the diocese's communications director from 1977 to 1989. But the GOP received the bum's end of the collaboration, since many conservative stalwarts unwittingly—or not, according to attorneys for the victims—became involved in the cover-up: Fuentes supervised Jerome Henson, whom diocesan officials accepted in 1983 despite knowing of an 1981 incident in which Sacramento-area police caught Henson in a graveyard at night with a 13-year-old boy's legs wrapped around his face; mega-developer William Lyon allowed Harris to live in his home, while fellow community maker Art Birtcher bought him one; hotel developer Tim Busch placed John Lenihan on the board of advisors for his private JSerra High School; and hamburger emperor Carl Karcher continued giving thousands to his home parish, St. Boniface in Anaheim, even after Lenihan admitted to molesting a teenage girl during the 1970s. That's just what's known: many observers feel Brown shelled out $100 million to shield these men from the witness stand.
Bishop Norman McFarland:McFarland retired in 1998 to accolades from parishioners and the mainstream press. But a different picture of the bishop emerged this year—that of a man who accepted known molesters from his old domain, the Diocese of Reno (Henson, Gus Krumm), let homegrown molesters continue to work even after learning of their crimes (Lenihan, Harris, Richard T. Coughlin), shipped molesters off to Tijuana or Oregon Indian reservations (Eleuterio "Big Al" Ramos, Franklin J. Buckman), and allowed the notorious "Boner Jesus" mural at St. Joseph's in Santa Ana to remain in all its engorged glory.
Mater Dei High School: In a school that prides itself on holding numerous prep-sports titles, Monarch seniors can now add a child-molester patch to their lettermen jackets. Mater Dei hosted more accused kiddie fiddlers than any other Orange County parish, from principals (Harris and vice principal John Merino) to priests (Bertrand Horvath; Krumm; Henson; and G. Patrick Ziemann, former bishop of Santa Rosa) to teachers (choir directors Tom Hodgman and Larry Stukenholtz) to athletic coaches (track coach Bob Richardson and basketball coach Javier Andrade)—even a counselor, Bernie Balsis.
Orange County Justice System: Of the dozens of pederast priests who terrorized local churches for decades, Orange County's justice system convicted just two: Andrew Christian Anderson, who pleaded guilty in 1986 to 26 counts of molesting four boys at St. Bonaventure in Huntington Beach, and Gerardo Tanilong, sentenced earlier this year to a six-month prison stay for reaching down a 15-year-old girl's pants. In the meanwhile, the DA's office refused to prosecute Lenihan or Harris despite ample incriminatory evidence, and police departments usually bungled cases when they bothered to investigate claims. But the most lasting insult happened in late October during the Red Mass, the annual ceremony held by the Church at Holy Family Cathedral to honor the legal community. As members of SNAP stood outside Holy Family under a monsoonal rain, they invited the robed judges and suited lawyers to hear their stories. Not one attendee stopped to talk. Not one.
Orange County's 1.1 Million Catholics: The Orange diocese is the second-largest west of the Mississippi, yet the silence from the faithful on the sex-abuse scandal was deafening—and damning. Parishioners whispered about most of the cases that were settled for years—for example, it was common knowledge at St. Boniface that Lenihan had raped a girl. Even when priests admitted to their crimes, the overwhelming majority of parishioners stood steadfastly by the guilty while viciously smearing victims. With Brown vowing to cut programs and sell property in order to pay the $100 million settlement, Orange County's Catholics deserve the dire financial situation they're going to get.