In 1975, Lynn Caffoe, a priest at St. Callistus Church in Garden Grove, approached officials at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with a curious demand: he wanted to leave because he had just molested a boy.
The Diocese of Orange had yet to be born, so each of Orange County's Catholic churches fell under the domain of LA Cardinal Timothy Manning and his right-hand man, Monsignor John A. Rawden. The two already knew that one of Caffoe's superiors had already complained that they should keep an eye on the young priest lest he spend "too much time with the chosen few," according to church documents. And who might that be? The same report said he has a "tendency to gather younger ones around."
So when parents at St. Callistus went to Rawden to complain that Caffoe had been "overly affectionate to some of the altar boys," what did Rawden do? Side with the pervert.
Caffoe, according to a document included in the LA archdiocese's recent document dump of priest personnel files, "wanted an immediate transfer in spite of the fact that he claimed innocence of the charge. He felt it better for the well being of the parish."
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!
But incredibly, Rawden felt Caffoe "should spend a few days in trying to evaluate the situation and possible scandal." Eventually, Caffoe agreed with Rawden and stayed at St. Callistus for four more months, until embarking on a priestly career so reprehensible in his raping ways that he became one of the most notorious cases for Cardinal Roger Mahony.
Caffoe's Orange County indiscretions were largely a secret until now, although brief mentions appeared in both the Los Angeles Times and this infernal rag over the years. But it didn't have to be this way. In 2002, the Orange diocese received an anonymous call from someone claiming Caffoe had abused them while at St. Callistus--but the Orange diocese never made this public. By the time Mahony got around in 2004 to asking then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his role as the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to defrock Caffoe, Mahony mentioned four Caffoe victims from St. Callistus, including two who had called in 2003.
But, per the preposterous policy of the Orange diocese, the local hierarchy considered Caffoe LA's headache and did nothing to alert the public over the past decade about the priest's past. Did Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown let the faithful at St. Callistus--which he'd eventually sell down the river in his Crystal Cathedral drill--know about Caffoe? Has the diocese under new bishop Kevin Vann claimed Caffoe as one of their own and added him to the Orange diocese's official list of OC's pedo-priests? Does the sun seat in the east? Heckuva job, Brownie!