**********The City of Angels is Everywhere*********

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Criminal Activity by Chancellors and Bishops Coming To Light In Pedophile Priest Civil Cases Against Roman Catholic Church


Destruction of documents they know are going to be needed in criminal investigations. Lying under oath, well saying, I don't recall, I don't recall under oath, maybe you can’t count that -- that's become a national pastime.

There is plenty of criminal activity by the Roman Catholic Church coming up in hearings, motions, and depositions of the 500 plus civil cases against the L.A. archdiocese as they continue in L.A. Superior Court this month, with the first jury trial scheduled for June 11.

Organized crime, transferring criminal priests, not reporting them to authorities, by the 1990s the church had created an atmosphere where pedophile and pederast could carry on unhindered.

In December 2006 sworn testimony, Monsignor Steve Callahan of San Diego explained that after he got instruction from a national group of bishops in 1994 he destroyed records of criminal behavior by removing documents from priest personnel files and shredding them in a basement in San Diego, in accordance with Canon Law.

Callahan (known to former Catholics in San Diego as Father Callous) said in deposition testimony:

“At that time and I don't know if it was specifically for that study or beforehand, we wanted to know what was in our confidential files in terms of allegations of abuse.”

At that time, the fall of 1994, news of a problem with pedophile priests in the church was just starting to break. Thomas Doyle had just spoken to a national conference of bishops and warned them that the sexual molestation charges and civil suits were going to cost the church a billion dollars if they didn't do something about it soon.

Apparently the church did do something about it right away, with a clever misinterpretation of its own canon law. Callahan returned to San Diego from Chancellery training at Catholic University and embarked on a project to destroy confidential materials in priest personnel files if they related to criminal behavior. He returned to the San Diego archdiocese with the instructions to carry out this file-destruction policy.

How many other chancellery priests returned to their archdioceses across the country in 1994 after the same training and destroyed personnel records? And why did the national bishops decide to effect this confidential file destruction policy then, in 1994?

From Callahan’s deposition testimony:

THE WITNESS: It’s Canon 489.
MR. MANLY: (Plaintiff’s attorney) reads: “In the Diocesan curia there is also to be a secret archive or at least in the common archive a safe or cabinet completely closed and which cannot be removed. In it the documents are to be kept secret and are to be protected most securely.” That's Section 1. Section 2 reads: “Each year documents of criminal cases in matters of morals in which the accused parties have died or ten years have elapsed from the condemnatory sentence are to be destroyed. A brief summary of what occurred, along with a text sentence is to be retained.”

(A side note here, doesn't that canon law wording remind you of the voice overs on Survivor explaining another set of convoluted rules? Or maybe the wicked witch in a fairy tale giving instructions to her minions?)

Secret files, safes that are to be opened by no one? Who made these rules? How are the Catholics allowed to continue with these Dark Ages practices in the 21st Century?

Callahan testified in this deposition that he destroyed the files but neglected to make the summaries of what he destroyed to put in the new files -- just carried out half of Canon Law 489. He did this for a period of six months at the Pastoral Center at University of San Diego campus, but only when no one else was around. Even though he said carrying out this assignment took more than six months he doesn't remember any details about it, like what he shredded or even what the machine looked like.

NOTE: This testimony is from one deposition in one case, just a small part of the five plus file cabinets of documents overflowing in the jury room next to Judge Fromholz's court.

And the case this deposition came from was Mike Shoemaker's case, the one that was dismissed January 22nd, but Mike is certain his lawyers are going to appeal. More on that later.

So Callahan returns in 1994 from special training on canon law with new instructions to destroy personnel files -- but he doesn't remember any details, he ignores the second part of the canon law so does not write the required summaries of what he destroyed.

And it was just all an innocent housecleaning routine job.


District Attorneys across the country should look into what was destroyed in priest confidential personnel files in 1994 and why. Of course first DAs across the country have to get the Roman Catholic Church Corporation to finally comply with discovery laws and turn over subpoenaed documents.

As any legal entity would be eager to do to prove its innocence.

As the Catholic Church keeps refusing to do to keep covering its crimes.

Conspiracy charges -- truth is all these little piddling pedophile priests are not the real guilty parties here. In several cases it’s coming out that the priests wanted help, therapy, treatment and recovery from their sexual compulsions. Instead the apparent policy of the church was to transfer these sick men to new parishes, where they continued to act out.

Now as one or two priests from each region is more or less sacrificed to the system, spends time in prison, and the dioceses work out bankruptcy deals with the courts, and insurance companies pay most of the settlement costs -- the Church will be able to continue on into the next centuries as if nothing happened?

I don't think so. We need some District Attorneys in this country who are willing to stand up to the Catholic Church and the blatant disregard for humanity that has become the church’s practice. Somebody has to stop them -- this cannot go on. Civil judges aren’t going to have the power.

Somehow in Los Angeles lawyers on both sides were convinced that disseminating civil cases through 700 different attorneys, with 4000 plaintiffs and 700,000 defendants and hearings in different places at different times, sometimes as scheduled, sometimes not -- was better than a class action suit which would have consolidated all the cases and the true nature of the crime would have been revealed.

It's too late for that now, but it's not too late to prosecute the bishops for conspiracy.

All across the country the very dimensions and magnitude of the crimes of the church are working to the perpetrators’ favor as almost no one can keep track of what's happening.

So, I guess the church pays off a few settlements and the rest of us are supposed to disappear. Is that the how the church is going to handle its sex abuse crisis?


"I don't recall. I don't recall. I don't remember."

Most of Callahan’s answers are about how vague his memory is about this whole file shredding business. Medical records, tardy slips, records from psychiatrists -- he’s not sure, he can’t remember, it’s so long ago, it was just one of many projects he worked on.

Then the attorney asks?

Q: Did any of them at all relate to child abuse?

A: No.

Callahan knows that answer right away, no I don't recall I don't recall as to almost every other question, no looking to his attorney for instructions. He doesn't remember anything at all about the shredding and which files he shredded but he’s certain they didn't relate to child abuse.


I hope the District Attorney in Los Angeles is paying attention to the civil hearings

Imagine, the pedophile priest conducts mass and hands out communion while thinking about the cute little altar boy he’s going to share real wine with later that day. And if he’s caught the sick priest will just be transferred and all records of his criminal activity will disappear from his file thanks to canon law and centuries of hiding criminals in the church. The degree of systemic hypocrisy in the Catholic Church is astounding. The amount of damage done to thousands of innocent people is astonishing.


This story from Vermont last August seems really significant to me because I think it predicts what we are going to find in more and more old desks in churches.

Church admits finding documents in priest abuse case thought to be missing
Published: Monday, August 28, 2006
By Sam Hemingway
Free Press Staff Writer

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has found 27 years' worth of files on a priest accused of child sexual abuse, documents the church had previously said didn't exist.

Church lawyers, appearing at a hearing in Chittenden County Superior Court late last week, confirmed the discovery of the papers.

The diocese and the priest, the Rev. George Paulin, are facing a lawsuit brought by a former Newport altar boy who alleges Paulin molested him in the 1970s. The case is one of 23 pending cases filed by people alleging that as children they were molested by Vermont priests.

"They were misfiled in the parish file," diocesan attorney Tom McCormick said of the newly discovered papers. McCormick also said other documents thought to be missing were recently found in the desk of former Bishop Kenneth Angell, who retired last year.

Judge Ben Joseph, the presiding judge in the priest sex abuse cases, said he was troubled by the belated discovery of the documents, but will delay a decision on whether to punish the diocese over the matter until he better understands what happened, and why.

"The fact that more things have been found causes me real concern," Joseph said.

Jerome O'Neill, the attorney for the former altar boy in the Paulin case, has alleged in court papers that the church concealed the documents and asked Joseph to forgo a trial in the Paulin case and award his client damages. The Burlington Free Press does not disclose the names of alleged abuse victims without their consent.

McCormick told Joseph he discovered the missing folder containing information about Paulin for the years 1971-1997 in what was marked as the North Troy parish file. Normally, the information would have been contained in Paulin's personnel file.

Until McCormick's discovery, the church had maintained it had disclosed all the files it had on Paulin to the court and O'Neill.

McCormick said both files were kept at the diocese's North Avenue headquarters. He said he did not know much about what was in the paperwork found in Angell's desk.

"I don't know who those documents in Bishop Angell's desk are about and I don't know what's in them," McCormick told Joseph.

In addition to punishing the diocese, O'Neill has asked Joseph to take action against another diocesan attorney, William O'Brien, who O'Neill claimed is primarily responsible for failing to fully divulge documents in the Paulin and other priest abuse cases.

"Not having all the documents has been the largest disruption to this case," O'Neill told Joseph at the hearing last week.

O'Brien did not attend the hearing or respond to a telephone request for an interview. According to an affidavit he filed with the court earlier this month, O'Brien said his failure to find and turn over the Paulin documents was a mistake.

"I did not willfully withhold documents, nor did I intentionally file false statements," he wrote.

In April, the diocese settled the first of the priest abuse cases to come before Joseph, paying $965,000 to Michael Gay, who had accused the Rev. Edward Paquette of molesting him in the late 1970s.

Contact Sam Hemingway at 660-1850 or e-mail at shemingway@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com

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