Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A settlement was reached between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and two brothers who sued alleging they were sexually molested nearly three decades ago by a visiting cleric from Mexico, an attorney for the archdiocese said Friday.

The plaintiffs, now adults, were between 9 and 11 years old when they were allegedly abused by Father Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera on the grounds of St. Agatha Church in Los Angeles in 1987. They sued the archdiocese in June 2014.

“Plaintiffs were both terrified of Father Aguilar-Rivera’s conduct and frozen because of their obedience to and reverence of Father Aguilar-Rivera,” their lawsuit stated.

Los Angeles police believe the boys were among some 26 boys molested during a nine-month period in 1987-88.

Attorney J. Michael Hennigan, on behalf of the archdiocese, said the settlement was reached Wednesday, the same day Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper heard a defense motion to dismiss the case, then took the issues under submission.

Hennigan said Aguilar-Rivera has been a fugitive for years and that he was unsure if he is still alive.

Hennigan declined to comment on the accord. In February 2014, a $13 million settlement was reached with 17 plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit against the archdiocese, including 11 who were alleged victims of Aguilar-Rivera’s abuse.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the earlier settlement alleged in court papers that former Los Angeles Archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony and his top aide, Msgr. Thomas Curry, had “actively thwarted” and “misled” LAPD detectives concerning the actions of Aguilar-Rivera.

Aguilar-Rivera was formally charged in 1988, but was never prosecuted because he left the country.

When evidence of Aguilar-Rivera’s sexual abuse was discovered, the archdiocese immediately removed him from his ministry and informed authorities, archdiocese spokeswoman Adrian Marquez said.

When Aguilar-Rivera fled to Mexico, Mahony repeatedly urged church officials in Mexico to have Aguilar-Rivera return to the U.S. to face justice, she said.

“The archdiocese is committed to supporting all victim-survivors of abuse and protecting children and young people,” Marquez said. “The archdiocese remains vigilant against all that would harm our children and young people and continues to work every day to ensure that our parishes, schools and ministries are safe and caring places.”

Over the past 14 years, the archdiocese has trained almost 300,000 adults in child abuse awareness and prevention programs and more than 1.4 million children and young people in similar program aimed at youth awareness, according to Marquez.

— City News Service

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