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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

NEWS EVENT: LA Catholic officials welcomed convicted predator priest

Another CA diocese rejected him but Archbishop Mahony hired him

Victims say “alleged archdiocesan reforms still jeopardize kids"

Church lawyer admits church doesn't do background checks on priests

Despite this, archdiocesan officials are fighting cleric's victims in court

Ex-priest is the second sex-offending priest uncovered in LA since January

What:
Holding signs and photos of themselves at the age they were abused, child sex abuse victims and their supporters will blast Catholic officials about a new news report that revealed that:
- In 2001, the Los Angeles Archdiocese hired a convicted child molester priest without any background check,
- The cleric had been rejected by the Diocese of San Bernardino for sexual abuse allegations in Italy, and
- Archdiocese officials admitted they do no civil or criminal background check on priests.

They will also:

- Blast Archdiocese officials for hiring the cleric,
- Urge them to stop long and expensive legal battles against the cleric’s LA victims,
- Insist that they conduct international civil & criminal background checks on every priest, and
- Ask them to reach out to victims in every neighborhood where abusive clerics worked.

Where:
Outside of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

555 Temple Street (At Hill) Los Angeles

When:
Wednesday, June 29
11:15 am

Who:
3-5 survivors of sexual abuse and their supporters who are members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), the nation's largest support group for men and women who have been sexually abused in religious organizations.

Why:
On Tuesday, HDNet's "Dan Rather Reports" reported that a Colombian priest was hired by LA Archdiocese officials in 2001, despite the fact that the cleric had been arrested in Italy and convicted in 2000 of sexual violence on a child.

According to the report, the cleric, Fr. Fernando Lopez-Lopez, showed up unannounced in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2001, asking for a job. He had already been rejected by the Diocese of San Bernardino because of the allegations of sexual abuse in his old diocese in Tivoli, Italy.

The LA Archdiocese hired Lopez-Lopez to work with kids at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Los Angeles without conducting any kind of civil or criminal background check. They based their decision, a church lawyer said, solely on a letter from the Bishop of Tivoli. The letter said nothing about Lopez-Lopez's arrest or other allegations of abuse.

In an interview with Dan Rather, Archdiocese lawyer J. Michael Hennigan stated that the Archdiocese does not do background checks on any of its priests who work with children or vulnerable adults.

In addition, press reports say that after the Archdiocese was informed by San Bernardino church officials that there were allegations against Lopez-Lopez, it took church officials nine weeks to conduct any investigation and six months before the cleric was removed.. According to a victim, that was when the worst abuse occurred. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0629-lopez-mahonynotforgotten-20110628,0,2627312.column

Lopez-Lopez was arrested for sexually abusing an LA child in 2004. He was convicted, jailed and eventually deported back to Columbia in 2008. He has been removed from the priesthood.

Lopez-Lopez is the second priest discovered this year who had a history of abuse. In January, the New York Times reported that a priest working in a San Dimas parish was an admitted sex addict and the subject of a child sex abuse lawsuit in the 1990s. The Archdiocese claimed that it was an "oversight" that the priest was allowed to work with children. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/assign/OLoghlen_Rev_Martin_SS_CC.htm

SNAP believes that the behavior of the Archdiocese is reckless endangerment of children. In addition, it proves that their "alleged reforms" are still jeopardizing kids.

"Church officials have tried to tell us for years that things have changed," said Joelle Casteix, SNAP Western Regional Director. "Yet they refuse to do the single most important step in keeping kids safe from sexual abuse by clergy: doing background checks on priests. If they can't run simple background checks on the people with the most power and influence over kids, how can we believe in any of their so-called 'reforms'?"

The complete Dan Rather Reports segment can be purchased at iTunes. For questions about the show, the media can contact Colette Carey of HDNet at (303) 542-5576 ccarey@hd.net. The preview can be seen at http://www.hd.net/blogs/2011/06/coming-up-on-tuesday-june-21/.

Contact:
Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP Western Regional Director, jcasteix@gmail.com, (949) 322-7434
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Outreach Director, SNAPDorris@gmail.com, (314) 503-0003


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
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