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Sex scandals, lies mar U.S. churches

By George Bao (Xinhua)

14:21, February 03, 2013

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Anyone who rapes teenage boys and girls is a crime, but when priests had sex with teenagers, archbishops tried to cover them up to avoid punishment. That has happened in churches in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities.

In 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles paid at least 660 million dollars to settle sex abuse charges, and then joined a torturous legal defense of a privilege to conceal its part in that history.

Last week, in response to a court order, the archdiocese released internal records documenting the actions church officials took, or failed to take, when priests were accused of abuse.

Those documents revealed that in the 1980s, then-Archbishop Roger Mahony and his top aide, Thomas Curry, who is now a bishop, maneuvered to shield priests from prosecution, kept parishioners in the dark and failed to call police about sex crimes against minors.

A separate release of internal files showed that the cardinal and other archdiocesan officials protected 14 priests from prosecution, hiding at least one they knew had raped an 11-year-old boy and abused as many as 17 others.

According to the documents provided to the court, in one instance, Mahony agreed to send a molester priest to his native Spain for a minimum of seven years, paying him 400 dollars a month and offering health insurance. In return, the cardinal would agree to write the Vatican and ask them to cancel his excommunication, leaving the door open for him to return as a priest someday.

In another case, Mahony resisted turning over a list of altar boys to police who were investigating claims against a visiting Mexican priest who was later found to have molested 26 boys during a 10-month stint in Los Angeles.

"We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever," he wrote in a January 1988 memo.

Worse still, it is not a problem alone in Los Angeles, it is nationwide, where church leaders moved problem priests between parishes and did not call police.

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