Tom Fuentes Is Burning in Hell

And other recent revelations from the world of pedophile-priest protectors in the Diocese of Orange

The Catholic Diocese of Orange under Bishop Tod D. Brown and its pedophile-priest problems is much like the only great line from The Godfather III: Just when they think they're out, it pulls them back in. While Brown and his circle continue to gloat over their last-minute purchase of the Crystal Cathedral earlier this year, recent revelations further show how His Eminence long-provided a home for pedophile protectors. Cue the tape!

Across the pond, the big pedo-priest story this spring has been the ever-evolving saga of Brendan Smith, a former Norbertine father who abused hundreds of children in Ireland and the United States for decades and whose ultimate arrest led to the downfall of the Irish government in 1994. Smith died in prison in 1997, but his sordid story continue to spew horrible new details, with the most recent one implicating one of the most respected personalities in Catholic Orange County's history: Abbot Ladislaus Parker, founder of St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado. Parker passed away two years ago, his story as the leader of a group of Hungarian Norbertines who fled the Communist government in the late 1950s and set up shop in Mater Dei already etched into the annals of OC.

What none of the obituaries at the time mentioned, however, was that Parker knew of Smith's crimes and did nothing to stop them.

In 1984, Norbertine Father Bruno Mulvihill visited Orange County to meet with Parker and other order leaders. Mulvihill had already spent two decades alerting the Catholic Church about Smith's rapist ways, to no relief. He approached Parker because the abbot was a "well-known trouble-shooter"—Vatican code for a fixer of criminal problems. Parker went on to visit Kilnacrott Abbey in Ireland, where Smith was located at the time, and described the situation as so problematic that there was no need to fix anything.

In frustration, Mulvihill went to Irish authorities in 1995. "These innocent [victims of Smith] have been [turned] into social misfits by the evil deeds of one," Mulvihill told them, "whose actions were condoned and covered up on a massive scale and irresponsibility."

On May 23, the personnel files of two former Franciscans who served at Sts. Simon and Jude, Gus Krumm and Gary Pacheco, were finally released to the public after years of court wrangling by the two to keep them private. The files on Krumm—who served at the Huntington Beach parish from 1988 to 1998—confirmed what the Weekly first broke in 2004: Then-Bishop Norman McFarland kept Krumm in the Orange diocese despite Krumm being one of 11 friars implicated by an independent review board in 1993 of sexually abusing 34 boys at St. Anthony's Seminary in Santa Barbara during the 1970s and 1980s; despite Krumm's former superior at St. Anthony's Seminary warning McFarland about Krumm's child-molesting past in 1996; and despite one of Krumm's victims, Ignacio Aceves, writing an Oct. 21, 1996, letter to McFarland alerting the diocese that he had recently settled a sex-abuse settlement against Krumm (see "All Aboard the Pedo-Train!" July 22, 2004).

Pacheco's file was far juicier. He served in Sts. Simon and Jude from 1977 until 1985, with other assignments until 1988, when McFarland removed him from the Orange diocese after receiving an allegation Pacheco had raped a boy. However, documents now show that John Urell (the longtime point man for Diocese of Orange bishops on sex-abuse cases) never reported Pacheco to legal authorities, as required by law after that incident. Urell also didn't notify law enforcement when another Pacheco victim came forward in 1992.

But hidden in the hundreds of pages of Pacheco's file are two police reports regarding Michael Harris, the longtime principal of Mater Dei and Santa Margarita high schools and one of the most notorious pedophiles in Orange County history. A longtime favorite of local Republicans, Harris had taken a leave of absence from Santa Margarita High in early 1994, citing stress. Neither he nor the Orange diocese disclosed that his victims were coming forth with lawsuits—and that the police were after him.

One report, filed with the Orange police department in 1994, showed that a Harris victim had just alerted the Orange diocese about abuse that happened to him in the early 1980s, but that diocesan officials had transferred Harris "to an undisclosed location" to evade him. The same victim filed a report with the Santa Ana Police Department a couple of months later; detectives contacted Mater Dei looking for Harris, but, they noted, school officials wouldn't provide information on Harris' whereabouts. When a Santa Ana detective contacted Orange diocesan officials, specifically Urell's then-boss, Lawrence Baird, the report noted, "No one could give me information on Harris."

Urell and Baird still work with the Orange diocese.

Over the weekend, Tom Fuentes—a titan of local politics for forging the members of the Orange County Republican Party into the freaks they are today, as well as a gnat of a man for his role in the Catholic Diocese of Orange sex-abuse scandals—passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was 63. The best that can be said about Fuentes is that he was colorful—if by colorful, you mean you enjoyed a man who helped to put poll guards outside Latino-heavy precincts during a 1988 election that cost Fuentes, Curt Pringle and others $400,000 in a civil judgment, or someone who once opined, "I can tell you the registration of the people in the house by observing the neatness of the lawn, what cars are in the driveway . . . and whether there is a leaky oil can in the driveway." Funny!

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Sounds to me like Gustavo Arellano was molested as a child - possibly a Catholic priest; or he just simply likes to stir the pot to get better ratings; either way, his insulting approach minimizes the real issue: children being molested by person's with authority and how their activity was hidden or down played when it should have been addressed. Everyone, in my opinion is to blame: from the higher echelon within the Vatican, to parents that entrust their children to these priests (how in the heck do children find themselves alone in settings with sick persons that end up hurting them? Parents need to own up to their responsibility and be there for their children at all times) - now, let me qualify that by saying that I also understand it is almost nearly impossible to do just that in CA where both parents need to be working to survive in this economy - but, it still does not take away their responsibility and the fact that they should trust no one but themselves with their children. Having that mentality will at least encourage the parents to better prepare their children so that they do not fall victims of these predators. I am glad that Arellano and the Weekly shed light on the issue but do not support the snobbish I-know-more-than-you attitude that Arellano puts across in his writings. And, if indeed he was molested, I am sorry that it happened but hope that you can move on and seek the right help.

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