LA Archdiocese Officials Testify before Grand Jury

San Francisco Chronicle [California]
February 21, 2003

(02-21) 04:55 PST LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Four top officials of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have testified before a Ventura County grand jury investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, archdiocese officials said.

The four clerics are the first to be subpoenaed by a grand jury in Southern California regarding possible sexual abuse by fellow priests. Santa Barbara Bishop Thomas Curry, Monsignor Richard Loomis, Monsignor Timothy Dyer and Monsignor Craig Cox have testified before grand jurors since the beginning of the year and have cooperated, said J. Michael Hennigan, an attorney representing the archdiocese.

Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Maeve Fox declined to comment.

Meanwhile, archdiocese officials plan to turn over church documents to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, but they will argue that some of the material is protected under the First Amendment.

There is "a limitation on what a state can do when it comes to private church files. At the same time, it is our desire to help law enforcement. They don't get to rummage freely through diocesan files. We don't understand why they need to," Hennigan said.

Hennigan also said he will oppose disclosure of other church documents on 17 priests suspected of abuse, arguing that they are subject to attorney-client privilege and to the patient-therapist privilege.

The four clerics who testified before the grand jury have each served as the vicar of the clergy at some period during the 17-year tenure of Cardinal Roger Mahony, who heads the nation's largest Catholic archdiocese.

Victims rights group for those who allege they were molested by priests said the archdiocese's latest move is an attempt to cover up what Mahony knew about the abuse.

"Cardinal Mahony and other bishops have knowingly protected and harbored these molesters for years," said Mary Grant, spokeswoman for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.


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