More than 30 years after he claims an Oxnard priest molested him, 11 years after terrorist attacks unearthed buried memories, five years after a $660 million settlement brought a church promise to release clergy abuse files, and one day before a court hearing on those still-unreleased files, Manny Vega worries about the truth.
"Are we any closer today than we were 10 years ago?" he said in a work office decorated with Marine posters. "I don't know. I don't think so."
On Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias is expected to rule on an earlier decision to redact the names of cardinals, bishops and other Catholic Church leaders in files that may show what they knew about molesting priests and when they knew it.
Although more than 230 priests and lay people associated with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles were accused of molestation in a scandal that exploded in 2002, the files of 69 priests are currently set for release, possibly by the end of the month.
Archdiocese representatives said they are following the orders of the retired federal judge assigned to handle the release of records. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they're fighting to reveal more information about the scandal and are pushing for the release of additional files, although Vega worries their efforts slowed after the record clergy abuse settlement.
"That was great hush money. It shut everyone up. I regretted it from day one," said the 46-year-old Oxnard man, who alleges he was molested by a Catholic priest starting when he was 11. Vega worries that what he wants people to know most — who hid what — won't be revealed.
"You know that truth is there underneath that black ink and you can't even see it," he said.