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Prosecutors weighed criminal charges against Los Angeles archdiocesan leadership

June 03, 2010

California prosecutors have considered bringing criminal charges against Church leaders in the Los Angeles archdiocese including Cardinal Roger Mahony, but the possibility of prosecution is "more and more remote with each passing day," according to an investigator's report.

Steve Cooley, the district attorney for Los Angeles County, defended his 8-year grand jury probe into the archdiocese's handling of sex-abuse cases, releasing a memorandum from the lead investigator in the case. The memorandum concluded that although prosecutors had considered criminal charges, "there was not evidence that would support any theory of criminal culpability." The memorandum suggested that some of the actions by Church that had prompted prosecutors' scrutiny were now covered by the statute of limitations.

Prosecutors had reportedly weighed charges of obstruction of justice and perjury against Church officials. While the investigation remains active, the likelihood of prosecution continues to drop with the passage of time.

Spokesmen for Cardinal Mahony have said that he was not a target of the grand-jury investigation. The prosecutor's memorandum did not directly address the possibility that the cardinal could face charges.

Earlier this year Cardinal Mahony revealed that he had asked the Pope to appoint a coadjutor archbishop who would be in place to succeed him. (Cardinal Mahony will submit his resignation when he celebrates his 75th birthday in February 2011-- although the Pope regularly leaves bishops in place for months and even years after they turn 75.) Archbishop José Gomez was appointed to that post in April.


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  • Posted by: - Jun. 04, 2010 7:41 AM ET USA

    If there is credible evidence of abuse, a priest is removed from ministry while the evidence is investigated. But a bishops is special. If there is credible evidence of abuse he is neither removed from his position, prosecuted, nor even publicly reprimanded. He continues as before, perhaps retiring after a few years, perhaps asking the "Pope to appoint a coadjutor archbishop". He's a prince. He's special, and above mere mortals.

  • Posted by: opraem - Jun. 03, 2010 7:21 PM ET USA

    sounds like a settlement to me. roger leaves several years early and the charges are dropped.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Jun. 03, 2010 6:41 PM ET USA

    Mahony's sins are before him and the public too. Proving his guilt in court is another matter because the standard is different. But if I were Mahony I would rather be tried by a California judge than by an angry God who knows precisely what the man did.

  • Posted by: Lilacs2me - Jun. 03, 2010 6:25 PM ET USA

    Too bad. Was hoping His Eminence would wind up in jail, where he belongs.