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Letters to the Times

Sins of the Fathers See the Light of Day

April 14, 2002

" 'I Was in This Alone' " (April 9), your front-page article about sexual abuse, not only exposed the failures of the Catholic hierarchy but also the failures of our secular medical community. Lori Haigh told her psychiatrist about the sexual abuse. The psychiatrist is an unbiased, paid professional, in whom Haigh placed her trust. Yet the psychiatrist neither reported it to the proper authorities nor to her parents.

Perhaps this warrants further investigating. What is the policy of the American Psychiatric Assn.? What is it doing to ensure this never happens again?

Don Cleland

Long Beach

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I was molested by a priest 40 years ago. Fortunately it left no long-term lasting effects. I just thought this was a very sick man with some serious issues. I never did tell my parents. It would have broken their hearts. My parents thought very highly of this man. Sound familiar?

Jesus said, "Beware of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops" (Luke 12:1-3).

Dennis Moore

Upland

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These alleged victims and their families simply could have contacted the police. Had they done that, the credible cases could have been investigated and prosecuted in a timely manner and the abuse would have ended. Now they react with false indignation to the fact that the alleged perpetrators were not brought to justice for the unreported crimes.

Haigh has made the astonishing claim that she was molested by three different priests within a period of three years. She was able to report this to church leaders, a psychiatrist, a Planned Parenthood abortion counselor, her friends and a roommate who was a screenwriter. Why not the police?

Statutes of limitations are in place for a reason. Priests, like everyone else, are entitled to due process.

John Craughwell

Los Angeles

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If the record $30.6-million jury award for six women in their sexual harassment case against Ralphs Grocery Co. (Business, April 9) sent shock waves through the business community, the paltry $1.2-million settlement awarded Haigh for her teenage sexual abuse accusations against defrocked Catholic priest John Lenihan should send a lethal spike through the heavens.

The latter case was built stone by stone: seduction, abortion, conniving, a Catholic hierarchy of male-dominated control and power and, ultimately, Haigh's youth and adulthood a barren wasteland. And for her years of aloneness and final courage to come forth, she was awarded $1.2 million? How can one understand this gross inequity?

Dorothy R. Belknap

San Diego

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Cardinal Roger Mahony needs to research what the Enlightenment period did to and for the church. Get a clue--the "villagers" can now speak and think without permission from the clergy. Could it be that the technology of the day may force honesty from the professed?

Chris Salo

Norwalk

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As a Catholic, I'm dismayed and angered by the pedophile priests who have done enormous damage to their victims and to the Catholic Church. They have betrayed their vows, the result of which has put all priests under a cloud of suspicion. I strongly believe that the vast majority of members of the clergy are honorable, selfless and holy in their lives and in their ministries. Sadly, they have been undermined by the actions of these rascals.

Also, Catholic-bashing has been afforded additional momentum, and false accusations against innocent clergy will result. Cardinal Mahoney's situation is a case in point (''Police Clear Mahony of Alleged 1970 Molestation,'' April 12).

Manuel E. Nunes

Garden Grove

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