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June 19th, 2010
09:56 PM ET

Cardinal's deposition sheds new light on how church handled abuse

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/06/19/candiotti.cardinal.abuse.cnn%5D

From CNN National Correspondent Susan Candiotti and Producer Ross Levitt:

In a newly released videotaped deposition, Los Angeles Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony defends how he handled—and admittedly mishandled—allegations that one of his priests was molesting children.

The deposition was taken last January by lawyer John Manly, suing on behalf of a client who says he was abused by a priest named Michael Baker in the Los Angeles Archdiocese more than a decade ago.

The lawsuit was settled a few months ago for over two million dollars and Baker is serving a 10-year sentence for molesting three boys.

Manly says that he and the Los Angeles Times convinced a judge to release the videotape of the deposition this week after the Archdiocese attempted to keep it under seal.

The allegations discussed in the deposition aren’t new, but the tape gives additional insight into what Mahony was thinking when he decided to forego reporting Baker to police or mentioning Baker’s history to his parish after the priest told the cardinal he molested two boys in 1986.

The priest told Mahony that the boys were illegal aliens and that they had gone back to Mexico. Mahony said he didn’t investigate because he didn’t know the boys’ last names.

“This is among the most absurd excuses we've ever heard a bishop make—that he refused to call police because an admitted predator claimed the victims had left the country,” said Barbara Blaine, the national president of SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests.

In a statement, Blaine said that “the legal status of children who are molested is irrelevant and it's shameful that Mahony would claim otherwise.”

“If, in fact, Fr. Baker's victims had left the U.S.,” the statement continued, “Mahony's duty to call police was even greater, since the chances that the kids themselves would contact law enforcement was virtually nil.”

Los Angeles Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg told CNN that any notion that Mahony may not have pursued the allegations because the children were illegal aliens is “baloney.”

In the deposition, Mahony says he later learned Baker lied about knowing who the boys were and where they lived.

"Basically, I believed him,” the cardinal says in the deposition. “I believed him all along that he was making progress, that he was going to a therapist. There were no new offenses. And we found out later that he lived a huge lie all those years. "

“Did you not think it was prudent to go to the parish and make an announcement that Father Baker had hurt these kids and if anybody’s been hurt by Father Baker, please come forward so we can get you some help?” Manly asks Mahony in the deposition.

“Well, the challenge is trying to look at 1986 through the lenses of 2010,” Mahony responds.

Before 1997, the Church was not legally mandated to report child abuse allegations and Mahony said there was no Church policy to do so at the time. There is now.

In the deposition, Mahony acknowledges that it was later learned that Baker molested about 20 boys over time. Baker lived in nine parishes after receiving church-ordered treatment for molesting the two boys in 1986, though he was forbidden from further contact with children during his other assignments.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese finally reported Baker to the police in 2002 after another abuse allegation in 2000. Baker, who asked to be defrocked, was convicted in 2007.

When the videotape was released, Mahoney issued a statement apologizing for how he dealt with Baker’s case, as he has in the past.

“Though the details of what transpired from 1986 to 2000 are not new," the statement said, " …I have made sure that our sexual abuse prevention policies and procedures will keep our children and young people safe from predators like Michael Baker.”

As CNN Special Investigations Correspondent Drew Griffin first reported last year, sources say that a federal grand jury in Los Angeles is investigating whether the Archdiocese and Cardinal Mahony violated the law in his response to molestation of children by priests.

Here's a clip from the deposition:

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/crime/2010/06/19/clip.cardinal.deposition.cnn%5D
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Sex abuse

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. margaret ricketyts

    saying that the problem is worse in public schools and thereby lessening the seriousness of the catholic crisis has all the moral authority of a eight year old who said that he thought it was ok to shoplift because his friend did it first

    July 2, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  2. Steve

    Being called a "liar" by Cardinal Mahoney, is like being called "ugly" by a frog.

    June 21, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  3. Andrew Campbell

    You Theocrats can blah blah all you want. Scripture has it in the Gospel–I repeat, Gospel–i.e., AUTHORITY, that those who rejected the teaching on the Eucharist, rejected Jesus Himself. Yes, He is a he. He is God. And, He made you, also women. I suggest you refer to what my confirmation sponsor taught me about those who reject this definitive teaching on the Eucharist by reading the Gospel of John, chapter 6, and what used to be verse 66. Get it?! You who reject what is Truth live the statement Jesus testifies in his Gospel. This Gospel, like Jesus, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don't change the subject if you have integrity. Challengers? What's your defense? Mother Angelica bashers....compared with Mahoney, shall we compare the fruits of their work? No. Let's let God do it. He, yes, He, tells us to judge those in our own household. Well, let the judgment begin, first in his temple, and then let it go out. Are you ready? If not, become so. If you had any idea of what is coming, you would, like me–yes, truly like me–attempt to humble yourself. You would strive for conversion before it is too late. An attempt to change the subject from this critical teaching on Jesus in the Eucharist will only weaken your stand. Scripture does not change on the matter. Why should the true Church change on it? It shouldn't. Therefore, why should I do anything but confront those within the Church who present a confounded notion of what Jesus Himself teaches. Yes, note the present tense. He teaches this, not me, Andrew

    June 21, 2010 at 1:42 am |
    • Eric G

      You are right about one thing............Your "gospel" was the same yesterday. As a matter of fact, it was the same before jesus. Most of the nt was "borrowed" from earlier religions. You could look it up, but I am pretty sure you don't want annoying things like historical facts clouding up your religious beliefs.

      June 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  4. Pete

    @ Andrew Campbell.
    Please leave Catholic belief that the Eucharist is truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity out of this. If these priests truly believed that and live like it, then we wouldn't have this mess. I'm still Catholic and proud of it, because I get to receive Jesus everyday. God bless you my friend.

    June 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  5. Tony de New York

    ' Teachers are considered heroes for blowing in a pedo peer. The clergy are heroes for protecting the pedos.'
    THATS' NOT TRUE. teachers continue to move from school to school.

    June 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  6. Reality

    Why did today's prelates, preachers and rabbis, so focused on society's sins, lose sight of clerical sins?

    Fear, shame and guilt and cover it all up!!!

    June 20, 2010 at 10:15 am |
    • Andrew Campbell

      It seems the blindness began when they stopped looking upon and believing that Jesus in the Eucharist really is Jesus–Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. I dare someone to repost on Youtube Mother Angelica's rebuke of Cardinal Mahoney... and the evidence of her subsequent–yes miraculous–healing and ability step out of the braces she wore all her life after contracting Polio.

      June 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
    • Reality

      Mother Angelica, a modern day con artist. If she had her polio cured, why did not god cure everyone's polio? And why did god allow her to contract polio to begin with? Is there something magical about a nun's habit?

      June 20, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
    • Reality

      Andrew,

      Jesus was an illiterate, Jewish preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a mamzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). Analyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen) via the NT and related documents have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      June 21, 2010 at 8:17 am |
    • Reality

      Andrew Cambell,

      Jesus was an illiterate, Jewish preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a mam- from Nazareth. Analyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars ssors via the NT and related documents have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments . by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed or plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      June 21, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  7. Ted

    Another very sad chapter in the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church but what about the public sector? I also think reporters should be investigating numerous reports and confirmations of abuse in public schools which most experts agree is greater even than those abused in the Cathoic church! What about the abuse in the other religions – there should be a nationwide abuse panel investigating abuse in all other parts of society.

    June 20, 2010 at 7:52 am |
    • Petel2

      Thankfully we have usually caught the pedos in our public schools. Teachers are considered heroes for blowing in a pedo peer. The clergy are heroes for protecting the pedos.

      June 20, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • Tex

      Agreed. Why not more focus on pedophilia in public schools? Its obvious CNN has a bias against the Church. Search "Catholic" on CNN and see all the articles. Not a single positive or neutral thing. No mention of the Church donating more money to Haiti than any other organization. No mention of the *free* public healthcare Catholic hospitals provide to the poor. Talk about a liberal agenda.

      June 21, 2010 at 9:28 am |
    • bostonjim

      Sorry, Ted, but your argument doesn't work. Yes, you are right, any group that allows this behavior should be ruthlessly investigated. That in no way exhonerates the Catholic Church. The church spend decades covering these abuses, and mostly getting away with it. Their luck ran out, and now they are paying the price. The news is not anti Catholic, by the way, they are pro sensationalism, and this is a story with legs. Yes, the church does good in the world. Unfortunately, that good is tainted by this, and will be for some time to come.

      June 21, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.