State attorney general investigating L.A. Archdiocese’s handling of sex abuse cases
The California attorney general’s office will review how the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has handled sexual abuse allegations, including whether it followed mandatory reporting requirements to law enforcement, according to a letter reviewed by The Times.
The letter, dated Thursday, from Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to Archbishop Jose Gomez, requests that church officials preserve an array of documents related to clergy abuse allegations.
The investigation marks a major escalation in the abuse scandal, which has resulted in massive settlements for victims and criminal charges against individual priests but not the larger institutions.
It’s unclear whether Becerra's office is also seeking records from other California dioceses. But one source told The Times that other dioceses were being contacted by the attorney general.
Officials from the archdiocese and the attorney general’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
“The California Department of Justice is conducting a review of your archdiocese’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations involving children, including whether your archdiocese has adequately reported allegations of sexual misconduct, as required under California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act,” the letter stated.
For nearly two decades, the archdiocese has been roiled by allegations that onetime church leaders mishandled clergy abuse cases, sometimes moving clergy suspected of wrongdoing to other parishes rather than punishing them and informing law enforcement.
The L.A. Archdiocese paid a record $740 million in various settlements to victims and had pledged to better protect its church members. Gomez succeeded longtime Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who faced criticism for his handling of the scandal. In the wake of the settlement, the church imposed a series of reforms.
Other state attorneys general have launched Catholic clergy abuse investigations in the wake of a series of new scandals in the last year, including a Pennsylvania report that revealed a decades-long cover-up of child sex abuse involving more than 1,000 victims and hundreds of clergy.