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Sex abuse cover-up by L.A. Archdiocese is alleged

The former vicar of clergy testifies under oath that Cardinal Roger Mahony ordered him in 2000 not to contact police about allegations of sexual abuse by a priest.

September 19, 2009|Martha Groves and Richard Winton

The former vicar of clergy for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles testified this week under oath that Cardinal Roger Mahony ordered him in 2000 not to contact police about allegations of sexual abuse by a priest.

In deposition papers filed Friday as part of a civil case, Msgr. Richard Loomis also testified that Mahony ordered him not to inform parishes of allegations against the now defrocked Rev. Michael Baker.

In 2007, Baker was sent to state prison for 10 years after his conviction on molestation charges. He has been called before a federal grand jury investigating how the archdiocese handled priest abuse cases.

Loomis is on leave from the archdiocese after also being accused of sexual abuse.

Tod M. Tamberg, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said church officials had not seen the deposition and therefore could not comment.

Under questioning by John Manly, an attorney for one of Baker's victims, Loomis testified that after learning Baker had performed three baptisms, despite orders to discontinue ministry, he told Mahony in a memo that the archdiocese should tell police.

Mahony "wrote on the memo and initially his response was to proceed but then through the general counsel's office I was told . . . that we were going to wait," Loomis said.

The 2000 discussions about Baker arose after an attorney for two brothers told the archdiocese that Baker molested them until 1999.

The archdiocese and Baker settled the matter out of court for $1.3 million.

The deposition contains a comment by Donald H. Steier, an attorney for Baker, that by 2000 the individuals who alleged that they had been sexually abused were adults.

Because of that, he said, "there is no legal requirement to make reports."

Manly said in an interview Friday that, "because of Cardinal Mahony, they never called the police until 2002."

In a 2002 interview, Baker told The Times that he had informed Mahony in the 1980s that he had sexually abused children.

"I told Mahony I had a problem," Baker said.

Mahony allowed Baker to remain active in the archdiocese and sent him to a New Mexico treatment center.

Later, Baker was assigned to other parishes and, according to court records and interviews, abused other boys.

Mahony said in a 2002 interview with The Times that no one at the archdiocese reported Baker to the authorities in 2000 because "it was just our expectation that the two brothers had gone to police because they were so angry at him."

In late March 2002, Mahony authorized an attorney to notify police about Baker. Until then, according to a confidential e-mail from an archdiocesan lawyer, Mahony had been "reluctant" to tell authorities.

In May 2002, Mahony formally apologized for having allowed Baker to continue in the ministry.

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martha.groves@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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