CA - SNAP Urges Two Bishops to Reach Out to Victims
For immediate release:
Saturday, Dec. 18, 2004
Mahony "Forgot" About Two Accused Pedophile Priests
They Want Stockton DA To Investigate Perjury Charges Against Cardinal
SNAP Worries About Those Hurt By Clerics Now Back In Mexico
Until last week, the names of two potentially predatory Stockton Catholic priests had never been disclosed publicly. Now, a support group for clergy abuse victims wants two top California church officials to reach out to anyone who may have witnessed or experienced molestation by the two clerics.
That same group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is asking the Stockton District Attorney to consider perjury chages against Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, who claimed to have "forgotten" about the two alleged molesters until he was deposed recently.
Until a few days ago, the names of the two accused priests, Fr. Antonio Munoz and Fr. Antonio Camacho, had never been exposed publicy as possible molesters. But their names surfaced last week, when a recent deposition of Mahony was released. Previously, Mahony swore under oath that he supervised only one pedophile priest while serving as Stockton's bishop from 1980 to 1985.
But in the new document, when prodded by victims' attorneys, Mahony admits having dealt with Munoz and Camacho, but claims he doesn't remember having written, in his own hand, memos about allegations against the two clerics.
"Regardless of your memory problems or management failures in Stockton, you now have an obligation to reach out to others who may have been hurt," SNAP leaders have written in a letter to Mahony sent today.
The group wants Mahony and Stockton's current bishop Steven Blaire to put notices in church bulletins and diocesan newspapers, on their diocesan web sites encouraging victims to contact law enforcement and to seek therapy. SNAP also wants the two bishops to personally visit parishes where the alleged abusers worked, and make "strong personal appeals to witnesses and victims to come forward, so that those already wounded can heal and those still at risk can be protected."
According to media reports, Munoz and Camacho are now living in Mexico.
"The fact that these potentially dangerous men are now presumably around even more vulnerable children should weigh heavily on your conscience," SNAP's letter to Mahony says. "Had you done the right thing years ago, kids might be safer today, these two priests might be behind bars, and their victims might be far down the road to recovery. You must take courageous, prompt steps now to try and undo some of the pain your earlier inaction has no doubt caused and the risk your inaction still causes."
Citing the same deposition, on Wednesday SNAP wrote San Joaquin County District Attorney John D. Phillips, saying he should "act to ensure justice and the protection of children, by investigating possible perjury charges against (Mahony)."
They cited two apparent inconsistencies:
- the Cardinal's alleged memory lapse regarding the two accused abusers, and
- his contradiction of a psychologist who swore under oath that Mahony knew about pedophile priest Oliver O'Grady, which Mahony denies.
Calling Mahony's purported forgetfulness is "extremely hard to belive," SNAP wrote. "Mahony, unlike the average person giving testimony, has nearly unlimited resources and an army of high priced legal minds to carefully and thoroughly read files and documents. These attorneys surely briefed Mahony. Neither the trial nor the deposition were impromptu events where the Cardinal was caught unprepared. And this is a small diocese with several dozen priests and a time span of only five years."
Mahony's recent deposition stems from a rare civil molestation trial against O'Grady. In 1993, a Stockton jury found O'Grady criminally guilty of four counts of lewd and lascivious acts against minors. He has since been released from prison and been deported to his native Ireland.
Jurors later publicly said they didn't believe Mahony's testimony.
Others have also questioned whether or not Mahony perjured himself.
"After his sworn testimony, (victims') lawyers accused (Mahony) of perjury, and sent a transcript to prosecutors in Northern California for investigation," reports the LA Weekly. (http://www.laweekly.com/ink/05/04/news-anderson.php)
In the O'Grady trial, Mahony testified O'Grady was the only pedophile priest he dealt with in Stockton. Last week, however, CNN first reported that Mahony said two more Stockton priests who allegedly molested youngsters had allegedly slipped his memory. (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0412/09/asb.01.html)
“I had forgotten about those incidents,” he testified in a Nov. 23, 2004 deposition . http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/12/11
SNAP is the nation's oldest and largest self-help group for men and women victimized by clergy.
For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis,
SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790
Mary Grant of Long Beach,
SNAP Southwest Regional Director (626) 419-2930 cell
Steven Sanchez of Glendale,
SNAP Los Angeles Director (818) 262-6540 cell
SNAP Leader (949) 735-8347 cell