Files on 48 priests detailing sex abuse released

By City News Service

Documents on sex abuse cases kept confidential for years by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego were made public Sunday on a Website of victims' attorneys, after a judge ordered their release.

The document dump includes multiple files on 48 priests.

According to the Zalkin Law Firm, the previously sealed personnel documents of accused priests show that church leaders knew about clergy sex abuse long before they previously said they did, and even with the information, continued to assign accused priests to local churches.

"These documents show how it happened," attorney Anthony De Marco, who represented victims, told the Los Angeles Times. "They help give insight into how such travesty can occur on such a large scale ... placing the institution above protecting children ... I think to ever remedy a problem, you have to understand it."

One document shows that the Rev. Anthony Rodrigue was appointed associate pastor of St. George Church in Ontario by Bishop Leo T. Maher in 1977, a year after he fell under suspicion.

Thirty complaints of sexual abuse were lodged against Rodrigue.

The documents include letters between church officials, photographs and official documents regarding sexual abuse policy.

A judge late on Friday ordered that about 10,000 pages relating to a lawsuit against the diocese by 144 abuse victims be released.

In February 2007, the diocese filed for bankruptcy as the first abuse case was about to go to trial, putting the court cases on hold, but a bankruptcy judge allowed the cases to go forward, and that September the victims agreed to a $198.1-million settlement.

Under the settlement, the diocese was to pay $77 million and its insurance carrier $75 million to settle 111 cases. Religious orders were to pay $30 million for 22 cases, and the Diocese of San Bernardino, which was once part of the San Diego Diocese, agreed to pay $15 million in connection with 11 cases.

When the settlement was announced, San Diego Diocese Bishop Robert Brom issued a statement again apologizing to abuse victims.

"I am very, very sorry for the suffering we have caused them, and I pray that they will walk with God for a renewed life," he said.

He also asked parishioners to donate more to the church to help cover the payout.

The San Diego Diocese covers San Diego and Imperial counties. It has 99 parishes, 274 priests and about 1 million congregants.

   
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