Sexual assault allegations against clergy members have been rising as more victims are empowered to come forward by campaigns like the Me Too movement. The Catholic church has become one of the leading institutions in reported sexual assault cases.
Cardinals are high-ranking Catholic church members, and they hold great authority. Unfortunately, though these men represent a religious organization, some have abused their power or chosen to cover up the crimes of priests under their watch. One of the many cover-ups involved Cardinal Roger Mahony. Mahony was sued after allowing an ex-priest accused of child molestation to return to duty. As a result of these allegations, Mahony was stripped of administrative and public duties at the Los Angeles archdiocese.
During his tenure as a Bishop of Stockton, Mahony is accused of covering up several cases of sexual abuse. He allegedly hid sexual molestation evidence and even shielded priests serving under him against prosecution. Instead of reporting the priests, Mahony sent them to treatment.
Monsignor Peter Garcia and Father Michael Baker are among the many allegations covered up by Cardinal Mahony. Garcia was accused of sexually abusing a dozen young men since 1966, but he died before being criminally prosecuted. Baker allegedly confessed his transgressions, but the Cardinal sent him to a treatment center and back to work.
In a 1998 trial in Stockton, Mahony testified that Rev. Oliver O’Grady was the only priest accused of sexual abuse during his tenure. However, in a deposition in 2004, he said other priests were accused of the said crimes. When asked why he did not disclose the information in the 1998 trial, he claimed that he had forgotten.
In 2007, following a lawsuit that involved 508 victims, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles apologized for all the abuses and announced that they would give a settlement of $660 million.
The Catholic Church stripped Mahony of his title on January 31, 2013, after several files documenting sexual abuse cases during his tenure as archbishop surfaced. Archbishop Gomez took over from him after making the announcement. The participants in the case were Mahony, The Los Angeles Archdiocese, and four victims. The Archdiocese settled the case by paying $10 million to the victims.
In April 2021, Mahony was sued for sexually molesting a male minor, the first lawsuit of its kind brought against the former Cardinal. According to the case report, Mahony sexually abused the man in 1986 when he was just 17 years old. Despite this, Roger Mahony continues to serve the church and has not been criminally prosecuted.
Herman Law understands the sensitivity of sexual crimes and has decades of experience in prosecuting institutions complicit in the abuse. Contact us if you or someone you love has been a victim of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic church.