LA Archdiocese Document Dump Shows Anew How Former Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown Was a Pedo-Priest Protector Extraordinaire
Yesterday, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released thousands of pages of personnel files that confirms what those of us who have followed the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal have known for a good decade but which the vast majority of Catholics refuse to acknowledge: that their leaders, for forever, not only knew about the pedophile priests in their ranks but actively sought to cover up the rapes.
So why should we care about what happens in LA? Because some of those personnel files involve priests who raped in Orange County back when we were part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which we're going to display in the coming days. And, unsurprisingly, because part of the coverup up in LA involved the Diocese of Orange and our own former, perpetually bumbling bishop, Tod D. Brown.
In today's episode of How the Brownie Protects Pedo-Priests, we turn our attention to disgraced priest Michael D. Buckley. We had previously written about Buckley in 2005, when information at the time revealed Buckley molested at least eight boys while at Immaculate Heart of Mary in SanTana, back when it was a part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Information at the time on Buckley's perversion was hard to find, though, namely because his personnel file hadn't been released by then-Cardinal Roger Mahony, and it was technically an Archdiocese of Los Angeles case and thus out of my beat.
Now that his case file is out, though, it turns out that Buckley was a monster in Orange County--and that not only LA diocesan officials know, but that Brown never bothered to alert Immaculate Heart of Mary parishioners after hearing from the victims who finally brought Buckley down.
The earliest mention of Buckley's pederast ways pertaining to OC wasn't as part of child molestation but an actual consensual relationship. In an unsigned 1980 note to then-Cardinal Timothy Manning, someone said that then-bishop Manuel Moreno, the Placentia boy who would go on to shield muchos pedophiles in Orange, Los Angeles and Tucson, had received reports of a field worker "spreading a story about his activities" with Buckley, who was then the pastor in the Santa Barbara County town of New Cuyama. By then, Buckley's personnel file had already been filled with anonymous, mysterious complaints alleging some sort of malfeasance.
All niceties were dropped, however, in another early 1980s note, which explained thusly that "Father Michael Buckley is a homosexual...molests children." The source said she "learned this from her neighbor...whose son was involved over a ten-year period when [Buckley] was in Orange County."
That would've been at Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Buckley would remain in ministry until 1994, when a group of brothers from Immaculate Heart of Mary brought their stories of abuse to Mahony--this after the family had personally complained to Manning in 1975 after the sister of the abused brothers caught Buckley at their home molesting a brother (Manning promised them that Buckley would never again serve in a ministry with children, which was a crock of shit). In 2002, that same sister called the Diocese of Orange's sexual-misconduct hotline to retell their stories of molestations. The family, according to the notes jotted down by the person who took the call "brought the matter to the attention of the three Bishops in Orange over the years," but that they had never helped on the matter.
Despite knowledge of Buckley's OC-rapist days, then-Bishop Brown never disclosed Buckley's name as one of the pedo-priests in Orange County during his much-vaunted "Covenant with the Faithful" transparency phase. Technically, he didn't have to, given Buckley's crimes occurred during the Archdiocese of Los Angeles days--but dontcha think parishioners at Immaculate Heart of Mary might've wanted to know that a priest who served their for nearly five years in the 1970s had been removed for molesting boys there? Even after another of Buckley's victims, in a letter written to Mahony, said Buckley had "named classmates and friends of mine whom he had been with before me"?
Of course not--Catholics don't want to hear the inconvenient truth. Heckuva job, Brownie!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts