In 1990, then-Diocese of Boise, currently Diocese of Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown drafted a letter of recommendation on behalf of Father Ruben Idalio Garcia so that the former Boise priest could officially join the Archdiocese of Tijuana. "I am happy to recommend Fr Garcia for service" in Tijuana, His Excellency wrote to Tijuana Bishop Carlos Emilio Berlie Belaunzaran.
Brown wrote this letter even though Garcia had long been a problem priest in Boise, even though Garcia had molested boys in Idaho, and even though Brown's predecessors had sent Garcia to the country's most notorious pedo-priest rehabilitation camp, the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs in New Mexico, during the 1980s.
Brown's official endorsement of a pedo-priest--never before revealed--came to light only because of a lawsuit filed against the Boise diocese in 1994 by one of Garcia's victims in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where the priest practiced in the mid-1970s. At that time, Garcia was on loan from the Boise diocese, and you'll remember that Brownie's legal-defense team maintained that "the bishop from the Diocese of incardination of a priest has the responsibility for that priest" in order to wiggle out of a previous sex-abuse lawsuit, right? Not this time!
For the Garcia lawsuit, Brownie sought to dismiss the case against Boise on the grounds that his diocese had no jurisdiction over Garcia at the time of the New Mexico molestation. He went as far as hiring canonical experts to try and worm his way out of the responsibility of owning up to a Boise pedo-priest. The problem was that the Boise diocese had always considered Garcia one of their own, and Brown's letter to Berlie was the smoking gun that proved it in the eyes of Samuel Herrera, the lawyer representing Garcia's victim who sued Boise, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe (which includes Las Vegas) and the Servants of the Paraclete (the Catholic order that ran Jemez Springs) for Garcia's abuse.
In the discovery process, Herrera found Brown's letter of recommendation for Garcia--but more than three-quarters of the letter was redacted. He also found a handwritten note disclosing that the Boise diocese held Garcia's Jemez Springs files, and further private correspondence disclosing that diocesan officials knew Garcia had problems with "celibacy" since his seminary days.
"Despite such knowledge, the Santa Fe and Idaho Archdioceses and Paracletes negligently and recklessly continued to employ Garcia in positions of trust and authority as a Roman Catholic priest where he was able to commit wrongful and negligent acts," Herrera wrote in his complaint.
Brownie and his lawyers not only successfully prevented Herrera from un-redacting Brown's praise-filled note, they also stiffed Herrera out of hundreds of pages of documents he requested to review, according to court records obtained by the Weekly--and many of the ones he did receiver were blurry to the point of illegibility. Boise diocese lawyers ultimately succeeded in convincing a San Miguel County judge (the New Mexico county to which Las Vegas pertains) to throw out Herrera's case against Boise. Herrera appealed the case but lost in a landmark decision that I'll detail in depth very soon. The Paracletes also succeeded in having their name removed from the lawsuit, but the Santa Fe archdiocese ultimately settled with Garcia's victim.
Although Brown's involvement in this case has never been publicly revealed before, His Excellency has alluded to it before. In 2007, during a deposition held for the Jeff Andrade case, Newport Beach lawyer John Manly asked Brownie if he had ever heard of a Ruben Idalio Garcia. "I think I do," the bishop responded.
"Who is he?" Manly replied?
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"I think he was a priest who at one time was ministering in Idaho, and if it was the one I'm thinking about, he..."
But before Brown could finish, Orange diocese attorney Peter Callahan blurted out, "That's good enough."
We'll say--heckuva job, Brownie!"
Check in the afternoon for a copy of Brown's endorsement letter for Garcia...