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thanks for the memories

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 13, 2004

Under increasingly close scrutiny for his handling of sexual abusers, Cardinal Mahony continues to dance the dance, hopping from one storyline to another and back again. As Archbishop of Los Angeles, his fatherly spiritual mentoring of his priests is so intimate that it would be sacrilegious to turn over their personnel files to the DA's office. As Bishop of Stockton, his clergy were so remote from his duties that he can't remember secondary details about them, such as their names, or whether they'd been deported for deviant sexual battery. Last week he was obliged to perform his "oh, THAT Diocese of Stockton!" number, under oath, and some folks are crying foul:

One of California's leading sexual abuse lawyers said Friday that newly released court documents show that Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony committed perjury during a 1998 trial in Stockton. The accusation by Stockton attorney Larry Drivon came one day after a transcript of a deposition Mahony gave in Los Angeles on Nov. 23. was made public.

A spokesman for Mahony called the accusation "ridiculous."

Well, the accusation may be ridiculous, but it's not unique, as is evident from Ron Russell's September 2002 article in the LA New Times:

In a 1998 civil trial, a Stockton jury awarded two of O'Grady's victims, Joh and James Howard, a $30 million judgment. It was later reduced to $7 million. The verdict was a clear repudiation of Mahony's testimony as the trial's reluctant star witness. Although not directly on trial, he may as well have been. His elusive and legalistic testimony about his handling of O'Grady was a disaster. Several jurors interviewed by New Times say that no one on the 12-member panel believed Mahony about key aspects of the case. After the trial, a female juror -- a lifelong Catholic -- broke down in sobs as she explained her conclusion that the cardinal had lied.

Asked in his recent deposition to explain embarrassing omissions in earlier testimony, Mahony claimed to have been preoccupied by current business and in a kind of mental block -- what pilots call "task saturation." Mahony shares with Bernard Law, his brother cardinal, the enviable knack for suffering memory-overload on precisely those occasions where accurate recall would entail damaging admissions. Perhaps it's one of the graces of consecration.

Asked Friday whether he thought Mahony committed perjury in the 1998 trial, [attorney John] Manly said, "the evidence speaks for itself."

"No one forgets about the first time they find out about a priest abusing a child -- especially a bishop," Manly said. "There could have been a nuclear detonation and you wouldn't forget about that. Mahony himself interviewed victims and talked to the police."

Well, can you remember which of those among your own children went down on an assault rap 20 years ago? I didn't think so.

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