Los Angeles public schools hired ex-priest despite archdiocese’s warning
February 05, 2013
The Los Angeles Unified School District hired Joseph Pina, a priest who admitted abusing an adolescent female, as a community outreach coordinator in 2002, even though the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told the school district that it would not hire him again and “would not recommend him for a position in the schools.”
Despite prominent local press coverage citing allegations against Pina, he remained employed by the public school district until 2012.
According to Pina’s file, made public last week by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony was informed in 1990 by Msgr. Thomas Curry, his vicar for clergy and a future auxiliary bishop, that Pina had engaged in a three-year relationship with an adolescent female that began when he was 41 and she was 16. The young woman was a parishioner at a Los Angeles parish where Pina, now a pastor, had previously served as a parochial vicar.
Cardinal Mahony followed up with a particularly cordial and supportive letter to Pina, who remained in his pastorate until 1994 while undergoing psychological treatment. After the young woman’s family raised questions about Pina remaining in the pastorate, Pina was sent to Pennsylvania for in-patient psychological treatment.
According to a psychologist’s report in 1993, Pina had begun to pursue the girl when she was 12 or 13. She broke off the relationship when she was 19.
Following Pina's in-patient psychological treatment, Cardinal Mahony assigned Pina to be a parochial vicar in Ventura, where he continued to receive regular out-patient treatment. In 1995, Msgr. Timothy Dyer, then vicar for clergy, asked Pina to seek spiritual direction from one of four priests or six religious sisters.
On February 1, 1998, Cardinal Mahony assigned Pina to be a pastor of a parish in Lynwood. By March 4, the archdiocese had received “three allegations of serious boundary molestations,” including a relationship with a 16-year-old girl. Later that month, he resigned from his pastorate, writing a public apology to his former parish in Ventura for an “inappropriate overstepping of boundaries” with an adult woman of the parish. (Pina’s behavior in Lynwood, his file notes, had already raised concerns, as he asked seventh-grade girls to braid his hair.)
Following a month of in-patient treatment, Pina was placed in a halfway house for sex offenders. He received no further parish assignments and was hired by the Los Angeles public school district. Pope Benedict laicized Pina in 2006.
- Ex-priest remained in L.A. Unified despite red flags (Los Angeles Times)
- Joseph Pina file (Archdiocese of Los Angeles)
- Cardinal Mahony: ‘nothing in my own background’ prepared me to deal with abuse of minors (CWN, 2/4)