LA Archdiocese Files Shows--Again--How John Urell Covered Up for OC Pedo-Priests
In the spring 1992, a huge controversy emerged at St. Joseph Elementary School in Placentia, as parents and teachers were up in arms against the Diocese of Orange and principal John Ruhl. The former Vicentian was apparently a Grade-A douchebag, physically and verbally assaulting female teachers, and parents wanted him gone. Monsignor John Urell, secretary to then-Bishop Norman McFarland, told the media not to worry: Ruhl had "taken a leave of absence to care for an ailing family member," and Urell didn't know when he'd return.
It would be never, because Urell was hiding an inconvenient secret: Ruhl was a pedo-priest. That revelation wouldn't happen until this week, when personnel files released by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles revealed that Urell and the Orange diocese knew Ruhl was a pedo-priest, but never alerted the public or authorities about it.
Ruhl's story is already somewhat known; in 2005, his Orange diocese personnel file was inadvertently leaked to the Orange County Register, who--breaking news in the pedo-priest scandal for the first time ever (and taking three reporters to do it)--reported that the priest admitted to diocesan officials that he once duct-taped a student's penis to stop the teen from masturbating. McFarland, to his credit, had Ruhl removed from active ministry and paid to hook up Ruhl to a lie-detector machine, "results...not included in the portion of his file," wrote the Reg back in 2005.
The results appeared in a June 16, 1993 memo included in Ruhl's LA archdiocese files. At the end of the 121-page report is the memo, detailing a conversation that a Vicentian Fathers and Brothers investigator had with Urell after a former prospective seminarian had come forward to claim that Ruhl had made him kneel down, naked, then shoved his face into Ruhl's crotch "for his penance."
NBA Preseason Basketball: Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings
TicketsTue., Oct. 4, 7:00pm
Premium Level - NBA Preseason Basketball: Lakers v Sacramento Kings
TicketsTue., Oct. 4, 7:00pm
Anaheim Ducks v. San Jose Sharks
TicketsSun., Oct. 9, 5:00pm
NBA Preseason Basketball: Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns
TicketsFri., Oct. 21, 7:00pm
Urell reassured the Vicentian investigator that Ruhl "was on 'inactive leave' and that there were no expectations that he would ever return to active ministry." Reason? Ruhl "had been confronted with another case of similar inappropriate behaviour and that a lie-detector test had indicated that there was reason to suspect that there had possibly been other inappropriate behaviours."
Did Urell and the Orange diocese ever report Ruhl to the police? Nope. Did Urell ever tell parents at St. Joseph that they lied to them when announcing Ruhl had gone on leave to care for a mythical sick relative? Nope.
Of course, this is par for the course for Urell, the one constant in the Orange diocese's sex-abuse scandal, which dates back to the 1970s. Incredibly, Urell is still a priest in good standing with the Orange diocese, still at St. Timothy in Laguna Niguel. As long as Urell remains in active ministry, the reign of Bishop Kevin Vann is one giant joke.
Oh, and the obligatory mention when it comes to Urell: his biggest defender is Republican hack Matt Cunningham, whose love of the pedophile protector was such that he outed sex-abuse victims in his zeal to protect Urell from the mean, mean press. Heckuva job, Matty!
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