2018 Update to the Report to the People of God
In 2002, the Archdiocese confronted the sad reality of its failures in handling allegations of abuse by clergy and supporting victim-survivors of abuse. The Archdiocese has taken responsibility for these failures and established strict policies and programs for the protection of minors and the vulnerable.
Some highlights of those efforts:
- Archdiocesan parishes and schools have established Safeguard the Children Committees, and adults who supervise children are required to undergo VIRTUS abuse prevention training and submit to fingerprinting and background checks and screening. More than 329,000 adults have been trained in abuse prevention and reporting, and more than 168,000 adults who have direct supervisory roles with minors have been fingerprinted and undergone background checks.
- Every year, all children and youth in Catholic schools or in religious education programs participate in age-appropriate abuse prevention training programs. These programs enable children and parents to understand boundaries and warning signs, and they are given the tools they need to report instances where they are made to feel uncomfortable, scared or confused.
- The Archdiocese has implemented a “zero tolerance” policy, which means that anyone — clergy or lay person — found to have abused a minor at any time in their life may not serve in any capacity in the Archdiocese.
These programs and policies have been effective in ensuring that cases of sexual misconduct involving current minors are a rare occurrence in the Archdiocese as can be seen in the following graph, which shows a steady decrease in reports of sexual misconduct as the Archdiocese implemented policies to address sexual misconduct and prevent abuse. As the graph indicates, the majority of incidents of alleged misconduct, occurred during the administrations of Cardinal James McIntyre and Cardinal Timothy Manning before strict prevention and protection policies were implemented under Cardinal Roger Mahony and continue today under Archbishop José Gomez.
The Archdiocese continues to be vigilant in ensuring that immediate action is taken when any allegation of sexual misconduct is received. Whether the matter involves a priest, deacon, or lay staff member or volunteer:
- the alleged misconduct is reported to law enforcement and investigated regardless of the statute of limitations;
- the accused is removed from ministry pending the result of the law enforcement and independent internal investigations conducted by retired FBI special agents;
- all victim-survivors and their families are offered healing support and professional counseling through the Office of Victims Assistance Ministry;
- public announcements are made at the parishes and schools where the accused has served;
- when the allegation involves a priest or deacon, the Archdiocese follows the Archdiocesan Policy for Addressing Allegations of Sexual Abuse or Misconduct by Clergy in the Archdiocese, which includes a referral to the Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board, an independent board which advises the archbishop. The Board includes healthcare, legal and social service professionals as well as a victim-survivor and clergy.
In 2004, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles published the Report to the People of God to provide a framework for understanding how allegations of clergy sexual abuse had been handled until that time. The Report included the names of priests publicly or credibly accused of sexual abuse. The list of names in the Report was updated until 2008.
Since 2008, credible allegations of sexual misconduct have been announced at the parishes and schools where the accused served. The purpose of these announcements is two-fold: to inform parishioners directly and to encourage others who may have suffered abuse by the accused to come forward to report.
As an expression of our ongoing commitment to transparency, Archbishop José Gomez has asked that the list of names in the original 2004 Report to the People of God be republished with the current status of those individuals, and that a 2018 Update be published listing the names of priests accused of sexual misconduct since 2008.
The 2018 Update includes previously announced names of priests who have been credibly accused, as well as names of deceased priests where there is a single, plausible allegation of sexual misconduct against the priest which could not be confirmed or investigated since the priest was deceased or had long ago left the Archdiocese before the allegation of misconduct was received. Those names are being included in the 2018 Update out of respect and deference to the victim-survivors who made the reports.
The Archdiocese’s Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board has reviewed the allegations, supervised investigations and made recommendations concerning the 2018 Update. Publication of the 2018 Update has been personally reviewed and approved by the founding Board chairperson, Judge Richard Byrne (Ret.), and by the current Board chair, an active medical practitioner.
Archbishop Gomez and the Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board have also determined that this listing and information on those accused will be regularly updated as an additional measure to ensure transparency in the archiving of names of priests accused of sexual misconduct involving minors.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles again offers its most sincere apology to every person who has been harmed by a member of the Church. Our Church will not tolerate anyone who does harm to a child or vulnerable person. We remain committed and vigilant in ensuring that parishes, schools and ministries are safe places for everyone in our community.