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Priest Molested 5 Others, Suit Filed After Settlement Alleges

November 06, 2003|Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writer

A year after the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles quietly paid $1.5 million to settle a sexual-abuse claim against a priest, five more men stepped forward Wednesday claiming that they had been molested by the late Father Clinton Hagenbach.

The men sued the archdiocese, alleging that they were sexually assaulted by Hagenbach between 1968 and 1986 at four of the eight Los Angeles-area parishes where the priest served until his death in 1987.

Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese first learned of the abuse allegations against Hagenbach in November 2001.

He added that the alleged abuse took place before Cardinal Roger M. Mahony became archbishop in 1986.

At a news conference outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, attorney Jeff Anderson demanded that Mahony turn over priest personnel files to document what church officials knew about Hagenbach and when.

"We know that he was moved seven times," Anderson said. "We know he abused 12 people."

He said someone should have suspected problems because Hagenbach always had young boys "staying with him, sleeping with him, traveling with him."

In the negligence lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the plaintiffs allege that "Hagenbach maintained a fraternity house-like environment of vices in his rectory quarters where he routinely got boys drunk and molested them."

Tamberg said the number of transfers was "not unusual in the least."

During those years, Hagenbach was assigned to churches in Encino, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Artesia, Pomona and Hawthorne.

The lead plaintiff, 32-year-old Francisco Malo, was so choked up he could barely speak.

"I want it to end," he said.

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