Personnel Bile #1

Weekly announces release of Catholic Church pedo-protecting archives

Illustration by Bob AulFor the past two years, sex-abuse victims with civil cases against the Catholic Diocese of Orange have clamored for the release of personnel files they say will prove the church's complicity in their molestations. That day is coming soon: on Jan. 31, diocesan officials turned over personnel files to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman as part of their $100 million settlement with sex-abuse victims, the largest in the history of the Catholic Church. Lichtman will decide at a yet-to-be-determined date what documents to release and, citing legal privileges, which to keep sealed.

Whenever that date is, it won't come soon enough. So, as a public service, the Weekly is opening our personal archives of church documents. Every week on our website, www.ocweekly.com, readers will find a new file available for viewing or printing in a .pdf format.

Some files are public record, such as the 1986 police report in which a Huntington Beach detective investigating allegations that Andrew Christian Anderson was molesting altar boys at St. Bonaventure noted that church officials were "attempting to avoid me." Other documents include private church correspondence that illuminates how Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown spun the scandal to his priests. All of them are damning.

Our first document is a psychological profile on Monsignor Michael Harris, the former Mater Dei and Santa Margarita principal who was sued by nine plaintiffs as part of the $100 million settlement. Orange officials forced Harris to undergo the exam at the St. Luke Institute in Maryland in 1994 after pedophilia allegations first surfaced against him. In 2001, when Ryan DiMaria sued Harris and the Orange diocese and eventually settled for $5.2 million, Brown sought to keep the profile sealed, going as far as the California State Supreme Court.

Some highlights:

- On page three, Harris admits "he has been sexually aroused while hugging adolescent boys"; a couple of paragraphs later, Harris claims that children "have flirted with him."

- Page four makes repeated reference to Harris attending therapy with a Dr. Gottschalk. The psychologist in question is Louis Gottschalk, professor emeritus at UC Irvine, which named its medical plaza after him.

- On page 10, the St. Luke team diagnoses Harris with ephebophilia, a sexual attraction to adolescents. "It has been our experience that in many cases like these," wrote St. Luke head Stephen J. Rossetti, "the allegations that have surfaced are only a few of the actual incidents of abuse that have occurred." Rossetti also disclosed, "Michael indicated that he would be willing to be open about the truth if the information would not be given to the diocese or be used in a court of law."

Harris stepped down as Santa Margarita's principal the same year he underwent the psychological exam. And yet, despite knowing what was in the report, Orange diocese officials allowed Harris to attend Santa Margarita football games for the next several years and didn't defrock him until 2001.

To download and read the 12 page pdf document, click here.

Please note: The document should take about three minutes to load with a 56k modem.

GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM

 
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