Testimony in Los Angeles Clergy Sex Cases to Be Made Public
By Jean Guccione - Times Staff Writer
August 31, 2005
Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony failed Tuesday to persuade
a judge to seal sworn testimony by priests and other witnesses about
allegations of decades-old child molestations by Roman Catholic
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley J. Fromholz overruled
arguments from Mahony's lawyers that the release might prejudice
potential jurors against the church.
"Allegations of clergy abuse have given rise to much anguish
in the community," the judge wrote. "This anguish has
been exacerbated by allegations that the church concealed information
relating to the abuse. Further concealment of information from the
public is thus ill-advised."
The first of the testimony over the last four months about hundreds
of claims that Los Angeles priests abused children could become
public in the next few weeks. In one deposition, an accused priest
testified that his religious order transferred another priest at
least twice after he too was accused of molesting children, Santa
Barbara attorney Tim Hale, who represents alleged victims, said
in court Tuesday.
Critics have contended that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles covered
up the alleged abuse by shuffling accused priests from parish to
parish, without notifying church members or calling law enforcement
Talks are continuing in attempts to settle more than 500 negligence
suits filed against the archdiocese over the clergy sexual abuse
Fromholz has allowed dozens of elderly and ailing priests and other
witnesses to testify, to preserve their accounts in case the lawsuits
go to trial in the future.
Citing privacy concerns, Fromholz ordered lawyers to remove the
names of victims, church employees and witnesses who are not parties
to the lawsuits before releasing the depositions.
Mahony lawyer Donald Woods said he was pleased that names would
be removed but added: "We don't think it's in anyone's best
interest to try these cases in the media or do anything that could
taint a jury pool should any of these cases go to trial."