LA Archdiocese hires public relation firm to help with scandal

The Associated Press
Friday May 31, 2002

LOS ANGELES – The nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese has hired a public relations firm to help deal with the ongoing priest abuse scandal. 

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles tapped Sitrick & Co., a Century City-based company that has dealt with high-profile cases. The company’s clients have included troubled energy company Dynegy Inc., Global Crossing during its bankruptcy, actress Halle Berry following a traffic accident and comedian Paula Poundstone after her child-endangerment case. 

The archdiocese was being advised by another public relations firm but church officials hired a new attorney, J. Michael Hennigan, who recommended Sitrick & Co. 

“We’re really proud to be involved in this,” said Michael Sitrick, 54. “We’re confident the church is taking proactive measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I don’t have to be Catholic to be anxious to help them work through this.” 

Cardinal Roger Mahony has tried to stave off questions from the public and media about the priest abuse scandal. More than 30 current or former priests of the archdiocese are now under investigation by law enforcement authorities for alleged sexual misconduct with children. 

Hennigan chose Sitrick because the archdiocese “was not doing well in the press. I thought the press was focusing on the very negative aspects without the whole story coming out. 

Sitrick said the first order of business will be attempting to separate perception from reality. 

“We’re trying to get perceptions to equal reality,” he said. “You can’t do anything about what was, only what is and what will be.” 

Church officials did not disclose how much the public relations firm will receive for its work. However, Sitrick charged Orange County more than $400,000 when it dealt with bankruptcy in the mid-1990s.