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California Briefing / South Los Angeles

Parish targeted by victims' group

August 24, 2009|Carla Rivera

Members of a support group for victims of alleged clergy abuse distributed leaflets in front of St. Columbkille Catholic Church in South Los Angeles on Sunday, urging parishioners and church employees who have information about sex crimes to speak out.

St. Columbkille is the former parish of defrocked priest Michael Stephen Baker, who in 2007 was sent to prison for sexually abusing two boys, and who authorities have identified as a prolific child molester.

Joelle Casteix, southwest regional director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the group believes there may be many more victims of Baker in the parish. St. Columbkille officials were not available for comment.

Baker was recently questioned by a federal grand jury investigating how the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Cardinal Roger M. Mahony dealt with priests accused of molestation, according to sources familiar with the proceedings.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, August 27, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 3 inches; 108 words Type of Material: Correction
Clergy abuse cases: A brief article in Monday's Section A about a group seeking information on possible victims of sex crimes at the former parish of defrocked priest Michael Stephen Baker failed to include the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' response to allegations by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests that Catholic officials weren't doing enough to find victims of clergy abuse. Attorney J. Michael Hennigan said: "The archdiocese aggressively investigates every allegation or suspected incident, and in those cases looks for other victims. If SNAP has other information, they should deliver it to us and we will pursue it as we have done in the past."

J. Michael Hennigan, an attorney representing Mahony and the archdiocese, has said the cardinal is not a target of the inquiry.

Casteix alleged that the archdiocese has not aggressively sought out other victims and witnesses, and said she believes parishioners could help law enforcement build a case against Catholic higher-ups and potentially bring new charges against Baker.

-- Carla Rivera

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