Four child abuse cases were settled as part of a $10 million deal while the man who helped protect the offender was in Rome helping elect God’s next Catholic representative on earth.
While he was archibishop of the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese, Cardinal Roger Mahony shielded the now defrocked priest Michael Baker from the consequences of the law for cases of molestation spanning 26 years, from 1974 to 2000. Mahony retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011. He was rebuked by his successor in February after confidential church files revealed Mahony’s efforts to protect the priest and the church from scandal.
Those files show that Baker confessed in 1986 to molesting two boys over a nearly seven-year period. Mahony removed Baker from his duties to seek psychological counseling, but the priest returned the following year with the recommendation that he be defrocked if he spent time alone with minors. Despite several such documented instances, Baker wasn’t removed from the church until 2000, after working in nine parishes. He was charged with 34 counts of molestation in 2002, but those charges were dismissed because they fell outside the statute of limitations.
The four cases covered by the settlement all involve Baker. Two of the plaintiffs, a pair of brothers, will each receive $4 million and two other victims will each get $1 million.
“The archdiocese settled more than 500 clergy abuse lawsuits in 2007 for a record-breaking $660m,” The Guardian reports.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Mahony has apologised repeatedly for his handling of clergy abuse cases. The cardinal was sequestered for the papal conclave and could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
[The plaintiffs’ attorney John Manly] said: “The person who could have stopped this in its tracks and prevented three out of four of these children from being sexually assaulted is now sitting in Rome voting for the next vicar of Christ,” said Manly. “I find that terribly troubling.”
Roger Mahony, who is in Rome helping select the next pope, was aware of the settlement.