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Change of venue won't fix the L.A. Archdiocese's troubles

March 20, 2013|By Sandra Hernandez
  • Patrick Wall, center at podium, a world-renowned expert on the Catholic Clergy Abuse Crisis joins members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, during a news conference outside the US Attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Patrick Wall, center at podium, a world-renowned expert on the Catholic… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles this month asked a state judge to consider delaying or moving an sexual abuse trial, claiming it can't get a fair trial in Southern California. That request was denied.

But what I find interesting, and apparently so did many of our readers, is the church's reasoning for the request.

The Times’ Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan reported that lawyers for the archdiocese argued in court documents that the media’s  coverage, which they described as unrelenting obloquy,  has poisoned the potential jury pool here.

Does the church really believe that moving the upcoming sex abuse trial will result in a more favorable jury pool?  After all, the clergy abuse scandal isn’t limited to Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego. In fact, several of our readers noted in their online comments, the church’s troubles are well known outside the county.

“Do they think the people who live a few miles up the 101 don’t read the Times…don’t have cable/Direct TV…Shock the Internet!” wrote TroveMarie.

Others offered sardonic suggestions about where to relocate the trial: “I believe the Catholic Church must want the trial moved 200 miles up…into space,” wrote billpeet.

Surely, everyone is entitled to a fair trial. The Constitution guarantees as much. But the issue here isn’t whether pre-trial publicity is what formed public opinion. Rather, it’s the fact that Los Angeles' is the largest archdiocese in the nation, and it paid $667 million to settle the largest sex abuse scandal in the church’s recent history.

The media isn’t responsible for the church’s troubles. The archdiocese is responsible for that.

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