CA--LA predator priests settle
For immediate release: Monday, March 28
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
Cases against two ex-LA child molesting Catholic clerics have just settled.
One of them was allowed to keep working for years – until 2014 - after having been credibly accused of abusing a child. The other is a now-defrocked cleric whose crimes in southern California resulted in more than $3 million in settlements.
Two sets of Catholic officials - the Chicago-based Carmelite religious order and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley - have never explained why they let Brother Damien (“Patrick”) P. Chong quietly work at a Massachusetts mall, despite the admission, at least a year earlier, by Catholic officials that Br. Chong was “credibly accused” of child sex crimes.
Fr. Richard T. Coughlin went from Boston to the Diocese of Orange and set up the All American Boys Chorus. The Los Angeles Archdiocese admits at least six have accused him of abuse, according to BishopAccountability.org
Between the 1960s and 1980s, he worked at St. Anthony Claret Church Anaheim, St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa, St. Michael Norbertine in Orange and Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Santa Ana.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Brother Chong worked at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino and Mt. Carmel High School in Los Angeles.
(Photos of and more information about both men are available at BishopAccountability.org)
We hope these settlements will provide some comfort to the victims of these predators and will encourage others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids, deter cover ups and start healing.
We also hope that this settlement will focus attention on the Catholic hierarchy’s continuing recklessness, callousness and deceit.
Shame on Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and every Catholic official who knew about these settlements and kept quiet. These settlements happened only because victims were brave enough to come forward and smart enough to seek justice in court. And we know of these settlements only because their attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, was compassionate enough to announce them (knowing this would help bring comfort and closure to others who were hurt by Chong and Coughlin).
Remember these settlements – and who disclosed them – the next time someone claims that Catholic officials are “open” and “transparent” about clergy sex crimes and cover ups these days. It’s just not true.
Catholics and citizens must continue to rely on courageous victims, determined journalists and our secular justice system to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners and the public about known, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)