LA police receiving allegations of long-ago clergy abuse

The Associated Press
Saturday March 30, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Publicity about sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests has prompted 20 to 30 calls to police from people who claim they were victimized years or decades ago, authorities said Friday. 

“We’re not getting any information that there are any children that are currently being physically or sexually abused,” said Lt. Daniel Mulrenin, head of the Police Department Juvenile Division’s sexually exploited child unit. 

“We’re getting calls from adults, 30 or 40 years old, saying they were ... abused as children,” he said. 

The calls are being reviewed and some may prompt formal investigations, he said, noting that there could still be charges filed even in old cases. 

The handling of clergy sexual abuse cases by the U.S. Catholic church has come under renewed scrutiny since January, when it was revealed that a former Boston priest had been moved from parish to parish after accusations of sexual abuse. 

As for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, “we have a very good relationship with them,” Mulrenin said. “We want to maintain that and they’ve indicated that they’re going to fully cooperate.” 

Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of the archdiocese, has said some priests recently were dismissed, some for abuse that occurred decades ago. But he has not said how many priests were dismissed and he has not released their names. 

Mahony has not commented on a Los Angeles Times report that the dismissals involved six to 12 priests. 

The report led Police Chief Bernard Parks to send Mahony a letter asking for the names of the dismissed priests. In correspondence released Thursday, Mahony told Parks that those cases which occurred in Los Angeles police jurisdiction were reported there and those priests were prosecuted and served probation many years ago. 

“These cases are a matter of public record and known to your detectives,” the cardinal wrote. 

The issue of the dismissed priests’ identities became unclear late Thursday when the Police Department issued a press release that noted the reports of the dismissals and said detectives had met with the archdiocesan legal adviser on Wednesday. 

“Detectives were given names of priests and are currently checking department records,” the press release said. 

On Friday, an archdiocesan spokesman and a police official said that the names of the dismissed priests were not involved. 

“The discussions (Wednesday) did not involve turning over the names of the recently released priests because the LAPD detectives acknowledge that they already have them,” said archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg. 

Police Cmdr. Gary Brennand said the archdiocese turned over names of priests who have only recently been accused of long-ago molestation by people calling a special church hotline. 

Police will review those names to determine whether the priests were previously accused or convicted of abusing other victims, he said. 

“We don’t know how many priests the diocese has dismissed,” he said. “We don’t know how many that they have dismissed are within our jurisdiction. We have been given names by the diocese of priests who have just recently come to their attention and just recently been accused of abuse, but the accusations are for incidents that occurred years ago.”