“Like many others, I have come to a clearer understanding over the years of the causes and treatment of sexual abuse,” Bishop Thomas J. Curry, who oversees Santa Barbara and Ventura counties for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said in a statement.
Internal church files released this week show Curry and Mahony, who was then archbishop, discussed how to conceal child molestation by priests from law enforcement, including by keeping the priests out of California to avoid prosecution. While serving as vicar of clergy, Curry also suggested to Mahony that they prevent pedophile priests from seeing therapists who might alert authorities.
In one letter about a priest who had acknowledged using a 12-year-old parishioner as what a church official called his “sex partner,” Curry said it was “surprising” that a church-paid counselor hadn’t reported Father Michael Wempe to police. He and Wempe “agreed it would be better if Mike did not return to him.”
Perhaps, Curry added, the priest could be sent to “a lawyer who is also a psychiatrist” thereby putting “the reports under the protection of privilege.”
The trove of documents, which was made public as part of a civil lawsuit, came from personnel files for 14 priests. Files related to 75 more priests are expected to be released in the coming weeks. [more]