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Diocese Pays Out $13 Million To Settle Abuse Allegations PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 20 February 2014 04:13

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File
A lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese was announced outside the entrance to the Cathedral of Our Lady of
the Angels in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 18 for a 14-year-old girl who attended St. Didacus Catholic School in Sylmar.
Thius announcement was made on the same day that it was revealed that the Archdiocese will pay $13 million to settle
17 clergy abuse lawsuits, including 11 that involve a visiting Mexican priest who fled prosecution.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay $13 million to settle allegations by 17 people who claim they were victims of sex abuse by clergy, the diocese and attorneys for the alleged victims announced on Tuesday, Feb.18.

The settlements include payments to people who claim they were abused by five different people, including the Rev. Nicholas Aguilar-Rivera, a visiting Mexican priest who served at a pair of Los Angeles parishes in the 1980s. Attorneys for the alleged victims claimed Cardinal Roger Mahony and a Mexican bishop conspired to allow Aguilar-Rivera to work in Los Angeles parishes.

They also contended that Mahony and Bishop Thomas Curry actively worked to mislead police investigating allegations of clergy abuse. According to the Los Angeles Times, police suspected Aguilar- Rivera molested more than two dozen boys during his nine months in Los Angeles, then fled to Mexico and was never prosecuted. According to the Archdiocese, 11 of the 17 cases being settled involve Aguilar- Rivera, who was removed from ministry when abuse allegations arose against him in January 1988. “The Archdiocese sent several letters to his bishop (in Mexico) requesting that Aguilar-Rivera be sent back to the United States to face justice,” according to the diocese. “It has been the desire of the Archdiocese to settle the civil cases of abuse and to provide support to the victims through the healing process,” according to the diocese.

“We continue to pray earnestly for all victims and their families so that they may find emotional and spiritual healing. We also reiterate our firm commitment to the protection of our children and young people.” According to the diocese, the other cases being settled involve: – three cases alleging abuse from 1999-2006 by John Malburg, a former teacher at Daniel Murphy High School; – one case alleging misconduct by former priest George Miller in 1977; – one case involved alleged misconduct by former priest Michel Nocita from 1980-82; and – a case of alleged abuse in 1997 by Rene Velmonte, who “has no record of serving in the archdiocese or that he was a priest.” David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he believed the archdiocese agreed to the settlements to avoid court disclosure of “church complicity” that would have happened had any of these gone to trial.

“In each of these cases, we firmly believe that several Catholic officials knew or or suspected these clerics’ crimes long ago and kept them hidden for years, leaving unsuspecting families and vulnerable children at risk of tremendous harm,’’ he said. In 2007, the diocese reached a $660 million settlement with 508 alleged victims of clergy abuse. News of the settlements came on the same day another lawsuit was filed against the diocese, alleging a volunteer softball coach at a Sylmar school repeatedly molested a 13-year-old girl.

The lawsuit accuses the diocese of failing to properly vet volunteers at school campuses, contending that Epifanio Nevarez took the 13-year-old girl home with him to take part in “sex games.” “We want changes within the archdiocese so that they vet any volunteer just like the teachers,'' attorney Luis Carrillo said. "But beyond that, we want changes in state law so that public or private institutions are required to keep complaints of misconduct within the teacher or administrator's file for 20 years, and not for five years.”

The archdiocese of Los Angeles issued a statement saying its policy “does not allow anyone with a known credible allegation of abuse of a minor to serve or volunteer in any ministry.” The diocese noted that Nevarez was a “designated parent representative for his grandchildren,” who were students at St. Didacus School. “The safety and protection of children and young people is our utmost priority,” according to the diocese.

“We ask that anyone with information regarding this or any alleged abuse of a minor to contact law enforcement or the Archdiocese.” The diocese noted that after Nevarez was arrested in March 2013, the school quickly informed parents and held a community meeting. It also offered counseling services to students. Nevarez pleaded no contest in September to lewd conduct with a child and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 05:45