Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles

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The sexual abuse scandal in Los Angeles archdiocese covered events that were documented beginning in the 1930s, but most publicity was related to events of the 1970s through 1990s. Priests accused of molesting children or adults in the parish were typically reassigned, without informing new parishes of charges against them, as the church protected its staff. Changes in policy took place, a dozen priests were dismissed in 2002, the church issued an apology and detailed report in 2004, and in 2007, the Archdiocese reached a settlement with 508 victims of $660 million, a recordbreaking amount.

Challenging aspects of investigations of sexual abuse[edit]

Although Cardinal Roger Mahony released a detailed report in 2004 on numerous cases of abuse in the archdiocese, he resisted releasing records on additional priests for which documentation had not been collected during investigation. Under his leadership, the Archdiocese appealed attempts by the Los Angeles County District Attorney to gain access to these church documents relating to sexual abuse all the way to the US Supreme Court. The Court refused to hear the appeal.

In 2006 the decision required the archdiocese to comply with a subpoena from the Los Angeles County District Attorney for letters to the former priests and notes from counseling sessions conducted by the church.[1]


In July 2007 the Los Angeles Archdiocese settled 508 cases for $2 million.[2] On July 16, 2007, the day before he was to testify under oath, Mahony and the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles apologized for abuses by priests after 508 victims reached a record-breaking settlement worth $660m (£324m), with an average of $1.3m for each plaintiff. Mahony described the abuse as a "terrible sin and crime", as a series of trials into sex abuse claims since the 1940s were to begin. The agreement, if approved by a judge, will settle all 15 upcoming pedophilia trials against the Los Angeles archdiocese and avoids the threat of Mahony being forced to testify about how the Church dealt with abuses in the period from the 1940s to 1990s.

Since 2002 nearly 1,000 people have filed sexual abuse claims in California. [3] The archdiocese agreed to pay out $60,000,000 to settle 45 lawsuits it still faces over two pending cases of sexual abuse. According to the Associated Press, a total of 22 priests were named in the settlement, with cases going as far back as the 1930s.[4] 20 million dollars of this was paid by the insurers of the archdiocese.[5]

Rita Milla[edit]

Rita Milla, an American citizen who was sexually abused by seven priests as a girl and young adult, was paid a $500,000 (€339,190) settlement on December 4, 2007, from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as a result of her 23-year legal fight. Milla, 46, was one of the plaintiffs in a $660-million-dollar (€447.73 million) global settlement paid by the diocese reached for past abuse victims of molestation by priests. At 16, she was first abused by Fr. Santiago Tamayo at Los Angeles. She said the Roman Catholic Church's failure to help her caused her loss of faith: "It felt like God hanging up the phone on me. I'll never escape the memories and I'll always be fighting the after effects of the trauma I went through, but now I can work on healing." She sued the church in 1984, and Tamayo apologized to her in 1991. Tamayo, who died in 1999, was paid by the church to remain in the Philippines.[6]

Effects on the diocese[edit]

On January 22, 2008, Tod Tamberg announced that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles had sold its 12-story Archdiocesan Catholic Center on Wilshire Boulevard to Jamison Properties of Los Angeles for $31 million to raise funds to pay for its $660 million 2007 settlement on sex abuse by clergy. The building had been donated in 1995 by Thrifty PayLess.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Archibold, Randal C (2006-04-18). "Archdiocese Loses Case to Keep Former Priests' Records Secret". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  2. ^ Guardian Unlimited, "Church Abuse Trial Ordered in San Diego"
  3. ^ "LA cardinal offers abuse apology". BBC News. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  4. ^ LA diocese settles abuse claims 1 December 2006
  5. ^ LA church to pay .10 M for clergy abuse July 14, 2007
  6. ^ "Legal battle finally ends for victim of priest abuse"
  7. ^ LA Archdiocese Offices Sold for $31M