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

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pedophile priests in liberated LA: from Ziemann to Baker, no wonder Mahony won't testify; plus Doyle and Strutynski respond re church attorneys

Judge Fromholz on Vacation so next Clergy Cases hearing September 18th.

Sunday 9.9.07 meeting - info at left

By Kay Ebeling
“When he was auxiliary bishop of Fresno, Mahony was also a licensed social worker and was therefore required by law to report child abuse. When he became bishop of Stockton, California in 1980, Mahony surrendered this license and removed himself from the reporting requirements.”

That's from “Sacrilege” by Leon Podles due out from Crossland Press September 1st. (Amazing items about the handling of Michael Baker below.) City of Angels Lady is spending August curled up in the air conditioning with this 625-plus page book written by a bishopaccountability board member, and former federal investigator. At the end of August we’ll print a review, but here are some gems of information about the history of sexual abuse in the Los Angeles archdiocese that come up around page 217.

Podles begins the LA part of the story with George Patrick Ziemann, a friend of Mahony’s back in seminary. A plaintiff Richard at age 11 crossed paths with Ziemann when he was a parish priest in the 1960s in Huntington Park. Podles reports:

“Ziemann would give Richard fifty to a hundred dollars, tell him not to worry about it, then hear his confession and give him ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys as penance. This sexual relationship continued until 1986."

In the middle of this, Mahony made Ziemann head of a junior seminary. More sex abuse allegations came up about Ziemann. The Catholic church responded by making Ziemann bishop of Santa Rosa.

Now enters Jorge Salas into Ziemann's life a young Costa Rican who Ziemann ordained although the boy had never been to seminary. Ziemann had Salas on a beeper to be at Ziemann’s beck and call while at the same time the Costa Rican molested a number of young Latino boys in the area.

As you turn the pages you see that homosexuality and pedophilia antics of priests were blatant and out in the open both in seminary and in parishes in Southern California and Mahony and other Southern California Catholic hierarchy specialized in juggling the priests and hiding the problem.

We get a glimpse at how sex abuse claims were handled in the 1990s in LA going back to Msgr. Michael A. Harris, principal of Mater Dei High school in Santa Ana in 1979. A seminarian reported to Ziemann that Harris had molested a student, and “Ziemann did nothing.”

The Hollywood Priest

“Harris, known as the ‘Hollywood priest’ because of his good looks and charisma, was a wildly popular money raiser. At the 1987 opening of the Orange diocese’s new high school, ‘to a roar of applause from the audience, he ripped open his black clerical shirt to reveal a Superman logo.’

“He had raised $26 million for the school, where he found several good candidates for his bed. One died of AIDS in the 1990s and on his deathbed began telling the story of his relationship with Harris. Another man, Ryan DiMaria sued the Los Angeles and Orange Dioceses about his abuse by Harris in the early 1990s.

“Since Ziemann and Mahony both faced having to testify, the two dioceses offered DiMaria $5.2 million.”

Let me repeat that. In 1994 the church in LA paid one plaintiff $5.2 million to keep him quiet about one priest.

Podles’ report in SACRILEGE continues:

“One line of questioning that would have been extremely uncomfortable related to sexual activity at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, Mahony’s alma mater. St. John’s ‘may be one of the country’s gayest facilities for higer education. Depending on whom you ask, gay and bisexual men make up anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of the student body at the college and graduate levels.’

Déjà Vu All Over Again

“In 1994 Harris had resigned from the priesthood and with the help of his wealthy backers he became head of a low income housing foundation for which he received $91,000 a year.” (In 1994)

Mahony’s handling of pedophile priest Michael Baker, after this.

(Baker is currently awaiting trial on two molest charges in LA’s Twin Towers jail.)

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The handling of predator priests by the LA Archdiocese is nowhere more perplexing than with Michael Stephen Baker.

In 1986 the new archbishop of Los Angeles Roger Mahony met with the LA priests and told them “if they had any sexual difficulties they should come to him,” which brought forward “the gregarious” Rev. Michael Stephen Baker admitting to Mahony that he’d molested several young boys.

The very next day Mahony met with Baker and an attorney who asked “Should we call the police now?” Baker recalled Mahony’s response to be "No-no-no.”

Podles’ report in "SACRILEGE" continues:

“Mahony did not ask for information or order an investigation.

"Baker was sent to therapy and given a series of temporary assignments in parishes, assignments which Mahony claimed he knew nothing about, although he had signed off on some of them.

“No one in the parishes was told of Baker’s admissions.”

In 2001 two men sued Baker for molesting them for 13 years. “The boys had remained silent because Baker had threatened them and had made their mother financially dependent on him,” Podles reports.

Baker offered to pay the boys one million dollars “(There was no indication of the source of this money.)” Baker asked the boys’ attorney to give them the money and just:

“Just don’t tell Roger. I’m supposed to be staying out of trouble. But I’m still doing things I shouldn't do. Roger will be mad if he finds out.”

Podles writes: “Roger did find out; whether he got mad we don’t know. But Roger immediately gave the boys $1.3 million (of which Baker paid $600,000) but did not tell the police.”

Baker gets $100 K severance pay just as reports of 10 more molests come up

Mahony “let Baker retire in 2002 with $100,000 severance pay. The next month the archdiocese learned that Baker had molested 10 more boys, but did not tell the police or parishes.”

A jury trial concerning Father Baker and his victims would have taken place in early 2008, if the cases in LA hadn't settled in July.

City of Angels Lady is on about Page 251 of this 600 some page book and got so engrossed today that my purse was snatched as I sat on a bus bench reading. Ah, life in LA.

LETTERS and EMAILS About the Church Attorneys' Dracula Like Sucking at the Hemorrhaging Cash From the LA Archdiocese’s Legal Funds, after this:

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After the August 15 post re church attorneys being slugs, I got these two emails:

From Tom Doyle:

One must never forget that the lawyers for the church do not work on contingency. They get paid by the hour for every minute they work on their cases. In LA they have made tens of millions of dollars trying every which way imaginable to stone wall victims, to prevent justice from happening, to continue to propagate their bizarre propaganda that they actually care about victims and above all, to prevent Roger Mahony from having to answer for the crimes he has committed.

I have met Church attorneys who have hired detectives to spy on victims, their witnesses and their families. Some have tried every way imaginable to destroy the reputations and the will of the victims.

When bishops and their defenders are questioned about the morality of all of this the response is always the same: "that's the way the system works. If someone sues you, you fight back." Except that this isn't a fight. This is the Church, that mistakenly calls itself "The Body of Christ" trying, through morally deficient lawyers, to intimidate, embarrass, threaten and discourage the men and women sexually abused by this Church's own clerics. The cleric-abusers make the wounds and the bishops and their lawyers pour salt and turpentine into them.

I have been involved in this nightmare since 1984. The men and women who have been victims went to court as a last resort. The bishops never responded as pastors, only as machines or as administrators at best. The scare tactics, threats, etc. didn't work and the victims, tired of being jerked around, went to the civil courts. That is why we have civil suits. The dollar amounts are high but not high enough. The best thing the victims could do for the institutional Church would be to force real bankruptcy and not the feigned farces that San Diego, Spokane, Davenport, Portland and Tucson are involved in. Maybe the real Church would be able to emerge if the monarchs really did lose their palaces and their robes. Maybe insolvency would force the "Church" to really be "The Church."

Tom Doyle

And from Udo Strutynski

I agree 1000%, and wish this particular blog could be published in the LA Times. But one note of caution, it's impossible to prove a negative, so your objection about the church's not doing so does the church no damage.

Better to have said, the church offered no alibis and made no attempt to argue the impossibility of the involvement of a particular accused cleric in the abuse. (The church, of course, can't prove the abuse never happened, just that their guy couldn't have done it on the day it was alleged.)
Keep up the great work.


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So City of Angels Lady is going to curl up with this book SACRILEGE by Leon Podles for a few more August afternoons and “review” it at the end of the month.

More to Come. . .

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