The Archdiocese of Los Angeles Thursday released the names of 54 priests accused in the last decade of abusing children, including more than 30 who had not been previously identified publicly, although most of the alleged abuse took place decades ago and 27 of the priests are dead.
According to the archdiocese, since 2008, living priests accused of abuse have been publicly identified in announcements at the parishes and ministries where they served. But the diocese decided to now release the names of accused-but-deceased priests, and also those under a new category of “plausible” accusations, in an effort toward transparency.
In 2007, the archdiocese agreed to a $660 million settlement with 508 people who had accused priests of sexual abuse.
The information released Thursday shows that the archdiocese has received reports of only three priests accused of abusing minors within the past decade. Two were removed from the ministry and the allegations were reported to law enforcement and investigated by the independent Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board, according to the archdiocese. The third priest, who was serving in San Bernardino County when the alleged abuse occurred but was in Los Angeles when the allegation arose, has left the country.
“To every one of you who has suffered abuse by the hand of a priest, I am truly sorry. Nothing can undo the violence done to you or restore the innocence or trust that was taken from you,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said at a news conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. “I am humbled by your courage and ashamed at how the church has let you down.”
The diocese’s updated list of names follows the release in August of a Pennsylvania report which revealed more than 1,000 victims had been alleged victims of hundreds of priests. Since the Pennsylvania report, other dioceses around the country have been prompted to release new information on accused priests.
The 54 names from the Los Angeles Archdiocese were added as an update to the 2004 Report to the People of God, which lists the names of priests who were either publicly or credibly accused of misconduct with minors. The new names brings the total on the list to 269 priests who have been linked with an abuse accusation from the 1930s through 2018.
The report was last updated in 2008, but the new list includes “plausible” complaints that could not be investigated because the priest was either dead or had long ago left the archdiocese, but the accusation matched up with the priest’s time of service and place of ministry.
The purpose of the new “plausible” category is to “get the name out there in case there are others who have been harmed and might encourage them to come forward,” said Heather Banis, a psychologist who serves as a victims’ assistance coordinator for the archdiocese.
No details about the abuse allegations were released other than the year or years of the alleged abuse. The names of the alleged victims were not released.
Of the three priests who allegedly abused minors over the past decade, only two — Juan Cano and Jose Cuevas — were active in the Los Angeles archdiocese at the time of the alleged abuse.
Upon receiving the oversight board’s conclusions that the accusations were substantiated, Gomez removed the priests from their ministries, and they are now the subject of proceedings to remove them from the priesthood, according to the archdiocese. Resources were also offered to the alleged victims through the Office of Victims Assistance when the allegations were reported.
The Los Angeles Police Department said in January that it is investigating Cano over alleged abuse at Grace Catholic Church in Encino. Cuevas pleaded no contest in 2013 to a felony count of lewd act upon a child in Long Beach.
In the third case, the archdiocese was informed by the Diocese of San Bernardino in 2016 of an alleged act of abuse that occurred with a minor in 2010 in San Bernardino involving Roberto Barco, an extern priest from Argentina. Barco, who was serving in Los Angeles in 2016 when the allegation arose, returned to his parish in Argentina that year, according to the archdiocese.
The new report includes details about a variety of other accused priests:
— One living priest, Jerome Turba, has been on “inactive leave” since 1973. He is accused of abuse that allegedly occurred during the 60s and 70s when he served at various parishes, including St. Cornelius in Long Beach and Harbor General Hospital in Torrance.
— Raymond Morales had his faculties removed “by decree” this year, and is accused of committing sexual abuse in 1968, although he is only listed as having served as a priest since 1981.
— Robert Jesus Juarez is listed as serving a “lifetime of prayer and penance” since 2017, and was on administrative leave from 2009 through 2017. He was accused in 1992 and 2009 of abuse that allegedly occurred in 1980-81, when he served at Epiphany Catholic Church in El Monte.
Three of the priests on the list are said to have had no assignment in the Los Angeles archdiocese.
The Archdiocese’s Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board, which includes healthcare, legal and social service professionals as well as a victim-survivor and clergy, reviewed the allegations, supervised investigations and made recommendations concerning the 2018 update, the archdiocese said.
The full report can be found at protect.la-archdiocese.org.
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