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Cardinal Mahony under federal grand jury investigation over priest abuse

January 29, 2009

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Cardinal Roger Mahony committed fraud in response to allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by priests of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, according to law enforcement sources. The archdiocesan attorney confirmed the existence of the inquiry but said he had been told Cardinal Mahony was not a subject of the investigation. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Authorities are applying a legal theory in an apparently novel way. One federal law enforcement source said prosecutors are seeking to use a federal statute that makes it illegal to ‘scheme . . . to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.’ In this case, the victims would be parishioners who relied on Mahony and other church leaders to keep their children safe from predatory priests, the source said. To gain a conviction on such a charge, prosecutors would have to prove that Mahony used the US mail or some form of electronic communication in committing the alleged fraud, the source said.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’s attorney said, “The Archdiocese has received requests from the US Attorney's office for information about a number of individual priests, two of whom are deceased; none of whom remain in ministry. We have been and will continue to be fully cooperative with the investigation.” Cardinal Mahony told reporters that he is "mystified" by the federal probe, saying that the issues being explored by the grand jury have already been covered by previous investigations. He said that he would be willing to appear before the grand jury.


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