When Los Angeles police were investigating allegations of child abuse by a Roman Catholic priest in 1988, they asked for a list of altar boys at the last parish where the priest worked.
According to a deposition made public on Wednesday and obtained by the Associated Press, Mahony told a subordinate not to give the list, saying he didn't want to scare the boys who knew nothing about the investigation.
Detectives investigating allegations against Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, a visiting Mexican priest, ultimately got the names from parish families. They determined Aguilar Rivera molested at least 26 boys during his 10 months in L.A., according to the priest's confidential archdiocese file and police records.
Before police were notified, a member of the clergy told Aguilar Rivera about the complaints against him, and Aguilar Rivera fled and remains a fugitive to this day.
Twenty-five of the alleged victims were altar boys and the 26th was training with the priest to be one, said Anthony DeMarco, a plaintiff attorney.
Mahony's deposition is part of the evidence included in a settlement of abuse claims against Aguilar Rivera and four other priests. The archdiocese has agreed to pay $13 million to 17 victims of alleged abuse that dates back to 1988.
Some of the alleged victims spoke about the settlement at a news conference Wednesday at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. Attorneys for the victims say Mahony, who was elevated to cardinal and retired in 2011, maneuvered behind the scenes with his top aide to shield molester priests.
A clip of Mahony's deposition was played at the news conference. It showed detectives repeatedly asking Mahony why Aguilar Rivera was told about the claims against him, thus giving him a chance to flee before police got involved. In the deposition, Mahony claims he did not know that Aguilar Rivera was warned.
"The reason we say the peril still exists even though these things happened seemingly many years ago, is because Cardinal Mahony and those top officials themselves first have never been held fully to account in their own role in aiding and abetting and conspiring and concealing," said attorney Jeff Anderson. "And it's Cardinal Mahony and the other top officials that continue to deny that they themselves were the ones who made the conscious choices that failed to protect our children in these communities."
The archdiocese has paid more than $700 million to settle clergy abuse lawsuits by hundreds of victims since 2006.
The archdiocese released the following statement in part:
"It has been the desire of the Archdiocese to settle the civil cases of abuse and to provide support to the victims through the healing process. We continue to pray earnestly for all victims and their families so that they may find emotional and spiritual healing."
The $13 million settlement comes after another recent lawsuit filed against the archdiocese in Saint Didacus Elementary School in Sylmar. The suit alleges negligence, claiming that the school and church officials did little to protect children from a convicted sex predator when they allowed a volunteer as a softball coach at the school. The volunteer, Epifanio Nevarez, is accused of repeatedly molesting a 13-year-old girl.