The Catholic Diocese of Orange under Bishop Tod D. Brown and its pedophile-priest problems is much like the only great line from The Godfather III: Just when they think they're out, it pulls them back in. While Brown and his circle continue to gloat over their last-minute purchase of the Crystal Cathedral earlier this year, recent revelations further show how His Eminence long-provided a home for pedophile protectors. Cue the tape!
THE FIXER WHO FIXED NOTHING
Across the pond, the big pedo-priest story this spring has been the ever-evolving saga of Brendan Smith, a former Norbertine father who abused hundreds of children in Ireland and the United States for decades and whose ultimate arrest led to the downfall of the Irish government in 1994. Smith died in prison in 1997, but his sordid story continue to spew horrible new details, with the most recent one implicating one of the most respected personalities in Catholic Orange County's history: Abbot Ladislaus Parker, founder of St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado. Parker passed away two years ago, his story as the leader of a group of Hungarian Norbertines who fled the Communist government in the late 1950s and set up shop in Mater Dei already etched into the annals of OC.
What none of the obituaries at the time mentioned, however, was that Parker knew of Smith's crimes and did nothing to stop them.
In 1984, Norbertine Father Bruno Mulvihill visited Orange County to meet with Parker and other order leaders. Mulvihill had already spent two decades alerting the Catholic Church about Smith's rapist ways, to no relief. He approached Parker because the abbot was a "well-known trouble-shooter"—Vatican code for a fixer of criminal problems. Parker went on to visit Kilnacrott Abbey in Ireland, where Smith was located at the time, and described the situation as so problematic that there was no need to fix anything.
In frustration, Mulvihill went to Irish authorities in 1995. "These innocent [victims of Smith] have been [turned] into social misfits by the evil deeds of one," Mulvihill told them, "whose actions were condoned and covered up on a massive scale and irresponsibility."
THE ULTIMATE PROTECTOR
On May 23, the personnel files of two former Franciscans who served at Sts. Simon and Jude, Gus Krumm and Gary Pacheco, were finally released to the public after years of court wrangling by the two to keep them private. The files on Krumm—who served at the Huntington Beach parish from 1988 to 1998—confirmed what the Weekly first broke in 2004: Then-Bishop Norman McFarland kept Krumm in the Orange diocese despite Krumm being one of 11 friars implicated by an independent review board in 1993 of sexually abusing 34 boys at St. Anthony's Seminary in Santa Barbara during the 1970s and 1980s; despite Krumm's former superior at St. Anthony's Seminary warning McFarland about Krumm's child-molesting past in 1996; and despite one of Krumm's victims, Ignacio Aceves, writing an Oct. 21, 1996, letter to McFarland alerting the diocese that he had recently settled a sex-abuse settlement against Krumm (see "All Aboard the Pedo-Train!" July 22, 2004).
Pacheco's file was far juicier. He served in Sts. Simon and Jude from 1977 until 1985, with other assignments until 1988, when McFarland removed him from the Orange diocese after receiving an allegation Pacheco had raped a boy. However, documents now show that John Urell (the longtime point man for Diocese of Orange bishops on sex-abuse cases) never reported Pacheco to legal authorities, as required by law after that incident. Urell also didn't notify law enforcement when another Pacheco victim came forward in 1992.
But hidden in the hundreds of pages of Pacheco's file are two police reports regarding Michael Harris, the longtime principal of Mater Dei and Santa Margarita high schools and one of the most notorious pedophiles in Orange County history. A longtime favorite of local Republicans, Harris had taken a leave of absence from Santa Margarita High in early 1994, citing stress. Neither he nor the Orange diocese disclosed that his victims were coming forth with lawsuits—and that the police were after him.
One report, filed with the Orange police department in 1994, showed that a Harris victim had just alerted the Orange diocese about abuse that happened to him in the early 1980s, but that diocesan officials had transferred Harris "to an undisclosed location" to evade him. The same victim filed a report with the Santa Ana Police Department a couple of months later; detectives contacted Mater Dei looking for Harris, but, they noted, school officials wouldn't provide information on Harris' whereabouts. When a Santa Ana detective contacted Orange diocesan officials, specifically Urell's then-boss, Lawrence Baird, the report noted, "No one could give me information on Harris."
Urell and Baird still work with the Orange diocese.
THE GNAT OF A TITAN
Over the weekend, Tom Fuentes—a titan of local politics for forging the members of the Orange County Republican Party into the freaks they are today, as well as a gnat of a man for his role in the Catholic Diocese of Orange sex-abuse scandals—passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was 63. The best that can be said about Fuentes is that he was colorful—if by colorful, you mean you enjoyed a man who helped to put poll guards outside Latino-heavy precincts during a 1988 election that cost Fuentes, Curt Pringle and others $400,000 in a civil judgment, or someone who once opined, "I can tell you the registration of the people in the house by observing the neatness of the lawn, what cars are in the driveway . . . and whether there is a leaky oil can in the driveway." Funny!
The worst that can be said about him is the truth: He helped to protect pedophile priests.
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Fuentes served as communications director for the Orange diocese from 1977 to 1989, a time that just happened to coincide with multiple pedophile priests roaming the county's pews and raping children left and right. Did he alert the authorities or press when his superiors whisked away Eleuterio Ramos (the most prolific pedophile priest in OC history) to Tijuana after raping one boy too many? Nope. Did Fuentes alert the authorities or press when he was assigned pedo-priest Jerome Henson to work under him? Nope. Did Fuentes ever criticize the bishops who employed him, the hierarchy that helped to support him, for actively thwarting law enforcement? Ha!
Of course, mainstream media obits wholly ignored Fuentes' role, as did the multiple hosannas thrown Fuentes' way by his conservative contemporaries. But, remember: He helped to protect pedophile priests and never owned up to it. The most Fuentes would ever say on the subject was to his ultimate apologist, Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit, in a 2005 column: "I believe what was going on on the secular campuses in the 1970s led to the liberal influences in the seminaries of that era, and that set the tone for crisis in the Church in the 1990s. . . . If I allow myself, I can become physically ill thinking about it."
Nice: Blame the liberals, even though it was Fuentes' conservative-as-fuck bosses who covered up the rapes of innocents, and even though most of the rapes in the Orange diocese happened during his time.
Hey, Tom, hope you get a spot in hell next to your former boss McFarland, as the two of you pedo-priest-protecting pendejos deserve each other. Heckuva job, Brownie!