I don't suppose detectives from the LAPD will put up for the redactions that obscure important passages in the documents the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released concerning its handling of clergy sexual abuse. According to reports from the Los Angeles Times and other news organizations, police are going through the records to see if any cases can be prosecuted.Police said they will investigate whether there was a failure to report crimes - a probe that would have to include the chancery. The Associated Press quoted the LAPD's detective commander:
Now whats being alleged is a failure to report, those kinds of things, so theres a new emphasis its not just the person thats accused of the behavior, but if its also if it was not properly reported, said Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, who heads the detective bureau.Were taking a fresh look on cases weve already handled to make sure we dont have reporting issues that got past, he said.
Previously, the U.S. attorney's office took a run at investigating the archdiocese, but brought no charges. The feds were reportedly investigating for violations of the federal "honest services" law - at least until the U.S.Supreme Court reined in the use of that statute.Law enforcement officials have a great deal of discretion about the kinds of cases they prosecute. When public outrage persists, they will respond. I think that's what is happening in various parts of the country. Had the church cleaned house and immediately demoted those bishops who made some very bad decisions, we probably wouldn't be seeing these criminal investigations now.
Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).