California bishops being sued for allegedly covering up child sexual abuse

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018
CA bishops sued for allegedly covering up child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse survivors and their attorneys announced a lawsuit on Tuesday against California bishops for allegedly concealing sexual abuse against children.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Child sexual abuse survivors and their attorneys announced a lawsuit Tuesday against California bishops for allegedly keeping sexual abuse quiet from clergy members, including many from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Attorney Jeff Anderson said the nuisance lawsuit was filed in L.A. against every Catholic bishop and diocese in the state, as well as the Archdiocese of Chicago. It demands all bishops immediately release the names and documented histories on all clerical offenders in each diocese.

"There is a danger that we feel compelled to expose," Anderson said. "The Catholic bishops in California, in real time and in the past, have engaged in such dangerous practices that there is and has been a grave peril to children in communities across the state. And some of those predator priests have been moved out of the Archdiocese of L.A. over the years to various locations."

Thomas Emens, a Camarillo man who says he was sexually abused by his parish priest Monsenior Mohany decades ago, claims a civil conspiracy among church officials to cover up clergy assault and move offending priests to other parishes.

"Today is the day where I not only tell my story about what happened to me, but I empower every other victim out there who has neither the courage or just not around at all to tell their story," he said.

Emens said Mohany, who frequently attended family parties and was close to his loved ones, sexually assaulted him from the age of 10 to 12 years old in the 1970s.

"This lawsuit is really the only opportunity to find justice not just for myself, but to bring all the victims that are in the shadows out and to help them moving forward," he said. "Don't underestimate this moment in time. You will remember this moment in time."

Also released at the press conference was a 120-page report on alleged clergy sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of L.A. that lists 309 clerical offenders and details how the archdiocese allegedly allowed 37 perpetrators to secretly flee to other states and countries after abuse reports.

"The playbook includes a practice of concealing and hiding the top officials, present and past, that have been complicit in the cover-up of these crimes," Anderson said.

Attorney Mike Reck claims that the alleged cover-ups are also because alleged abuses occurred "at the highest level" in the Archdiocese of L.A. Auxiliary bishops Juan Arzube and Patrick Ziemann have been accused of sexual abuse.

"It's a public safety nightmare," Reck said. "We hope church officials will finally do the right thing and disclose what they knew when they knew it."

Reck said that of the 300 clerical offenders listed in the report, the attorneys were unable to locate nearly half.

The California Catholic Conference, which represents all of the state's diocese, said it hasn't had much time to review the lawsuit, but said the information released has been made public for years.

It added that it's instituted reforms to protect children and adopted a zero tolerance policy in the case of sex abuse allegations. The organization went on to say that allegations of sexual abuse have been rare since 2003.