When I heard late that the United States Attorney's office is investigating Archdiocese of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony for his role in covering up the rapes committed by his priest, I attributed it to a hallucination brought on by last night's episode of Lost. But here's the Los Angeles Times story that proves it, and all I can say is: what about the Diocese of Orange?
According to Times reporters Scott Glover and Jack Leonard, the feds are accusing Mahony and perhaps other L.A. Archdiocese officials of fraud, and "to gain a conviction on such a charge, prosecutors would have to prove that Mahony used the U.S. mail or some form of electronic communication in committing the alleged fraud" and thus depriving parishioners "of the intangible right of honest services" by knowingly harboring, accepting, and protecting pedo-priests without letting the faithful know. I don't know too much about cases in Los Angeles, but I do know the sordid details Diocese of Orange scandal like I know great Orange County restaurants. And, if the feds are using such a litmus test of mail fraud to get Mahony (what--all that internal correspondence doesn't count?), then all of O.C.'s bishops, past and present (with the curious exception of Dominic Luong) belong in the slammer. To wit after the jump!
William Johnson: OC's first bishop wrote and received many a letter regarding his pedophiles, so two examples will suffice here: he accepted Siegfried Widera from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee despite a 1977 letter from the Brew City bishop stating Widera had had a "moral problem having to do with a boy in school," the moral problem being a 1973 molestation conviction. Also, Johnson allowed Eleuterio Ramos, the most notorious prolific pedo-priest in Orange County history, to escape to Tijuana. In a Oct. 13, 1985, letter by Ramos from Tijuana to Bishop Johnson, Ramos thanks Johnson for this "final opportunity" and shares that his fellow Tijuana priests "are aware of my alcoholism, diabetes, mental and emotional problems, and in particular my present and other past involvement with the boys." Yeah, Johnson is long-dead, but a rotting corpse never stopped the Catholic Church from trying someone for their crimes. When in Rome, right, feds?
Michael Driscoll: An even more egregious sinner than Johnson. In 1985, while vicar general, Driscoll sent off Robert Foley to England after he molested an eight-year-old boy. In an accompanying letter to English Catholic officials, he wrote that the victim's mother "has threatened to go to the police" and that Foley was "in jeopardy of arrest and possible imprisonment if he remains here," so please take our rapist! That same year, Driscoll wrote to Bishop Emilio Berlie of the Diocese of Tijuana about Ramos. "Bishop Johnson has told Father Ramos that if there should be any further incidences of his problem that he, as bishop, would have no hesitation in suspending him from his priestly duties," Driscoll assured Berlie. "We deeply regret the problems he has and hope that he may now completely come to grips with facing these problems and overcoming them." Driscoll is now Bishop of the Diocese of Boise.
John Steinbock: 1985 was a banner year in the Orange diocese sex-abuse scandal, wasn't it? Here's another great moment: then-auxiliary bishop John Steinbock, received a note from Boston archdiocesan officials about the boy-buggering ways of Richard Coughlin. Years later, Steinbock denied the existence of such a letter until Boston put up and shut him up. Steinbock is now the Bishop of Fresno;
Jaime Soto: Definitely the funniest case. In 1986, after Andrew Christian Andersen became one of only two county priests ever to get convicted on child molestation, then-mere-priest Soto wrote a letter to the presiding judge asking for leniency in Andersen's sentencing. "Our work brings us into intimate contact with people's lives," he wrote. "In a time when the exchange of simple affection within the most intimate of circles has become a rare commodity, our associations with others run the grave risk of being misunderstood by all parties including perhaps the priest himself." The strategy worked; Andersen received probation and a suspended sentence...then went on to molest again. Soto's is now in Sacramento.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Norman McFarland: Per a 2005 Times story: "In 1996, a man told then-Bishop McFarland and Urell that [Michael] Pecharich had repeatedly molested him 12 years earlier, on a camping trip, while skiing, at the rectory and in a Wrightwood cabin, according to a letter and notes from a meeting between the victim and Urell." Pecharich had already admitted to a previous molestation.
Tod D. Brown: Still Bishop of Orange, His Eminence flat-out lied to the county's 1.2 million Catholics in a 2002 press release telling parishioners that, though Pecharich had just been removed from ministry for his long-ago molestation, "there have been no further instances of misconduct by Father Pecharich, nor any new accusations" since 1983. Lies, lies, LIES.
And, although Monsignor John Urell has never been a bishop, the feds should investigate that creep as well, as he's used the United States Postal Service many a time in spinning for pedophiles.
These are just a few of the many Orange County examples of fraud involving mailed letters. Frankly, I think you have an easier case in la naranja than in Los Angeles. If you want more info, federales, leave a comment below! Don't be strangers!