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Sex, lies and legal theory: Feds probe LA archdiocese

According to news reports, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is enveloped in a federal grand jury investigation involving its handling of priests who sexually abused minors. Other prosecutors have conducted similar investigations and brought no charges. But in this case, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Thomas O'Brien, has come up with a novel use of a federal criminal law as the basis for a possible case, according to sources quoted in various reports.The prosecutor is looking to see whether church officials violated the federal "honest services" fraud law, reports the AP's veteran LA legal writer Linda Deutsch. She adds:

The law, which makes it illegal to scheme to deprive others of their right to honest services, has most often been used to prosecute politicians and chief executive officers of corporations. It has never been used against a church.

What it means is that the federal government is investigating whether church leaders such as Cardinal Roger Mahony committed a crime by being dishonest in their dealings with the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.Some of the news coverage has been very skeptical of such a case. The Los Angeles Times devoted an article to describing a number of cases in which prosecutor O'Brien made questionable use of federal law.The AP quoted Notre Dame law prof G. Robert Blakey, who helped design the "honest services" law, as saying it was "outrageous" that the federal government was in the case.And it certainly raises serious questions about government intrusion in religion. Should the government be able to determine the proper relationship between a bishop and his flock?Cardinal Mahony has said he was "mystified" by the investigation. But one can imagine a set of facts that would lead a prosecutor to consider whether federal fraud laws applied. The repeated transfer of priests who abused children time and again could be seen as perpetrating a criminal fraud if it was accompanied by lies to the parishioners about the background of the priests in question or the reason for the transfers.It remains to be seen if the "honest services" statute, which the courts have sometimes tried to limit, could conceivably apply here - whether there was an intent to defraud. (The law is an add-on to the federal mail fraud and wire fraud statutes that makes it a crime "to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.")The "honest services" law was intended to help prosecutors combat sleazy politicians who couldn't quite be reached with bribery and exortion statutes. But, as Prof. Blakey, the author of the federal racketeering law, would know, such laws can often have a much broader reach than originally thought.

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I am not a lawyer, but several points emerge as a result of my advocacy for survivors:1) "The law, which makes it illegal to scheme to deprive others of their right to honest services, has most often been used to prosecute politicians and chief executive officers of corporations. It has never been used against a church"But a Catholic diocese is a corporation sole under most state laws, bound to liabilities that attach to any corporation. 2)"And it certainly raises serious questions about government intrusion in religion. Should the government be able to determine the proper relationship between a bishop and his flock?"That canard has been used for decades to hide the massive crime wave of sexual abuse by priests and cover-up by bishops and cardinals. Mercifully, more and more judges (mostly women, BTW) are rejecting that argument. Bishops have essentially claimed the right to be as negligent as they wish in supervising abusive priests, while holding themselves exempt from neutral principles of law to protect children. Why? In order to freely exercise our Catholic faith, they say.We are not speaking of religious belief or practice but crimes! Cardinals and bishops have distorted the First amendment to hold themselves above criminal law. No more.3)The repeated transfer of priests who abused children time and again could be seen as perpetrating a criminal fraud if it was accompanied by lies to the parishioners about the background of the priests in question or the reason for the transfers.I refer to Dietrich Bonhoeffers definition of a lie: Communicating truthfully means more than factual accuracyThere is a way of speaking which isentirely correct and unexceptionable, but which is, nevertheless, a lieWhen an apparently correct statement contains some deliberate ambiguity, or deliberately omits the essential part of the truthit does not express the real as it exists in God.There are so many instances where Mahony and other complicit bishops lied about the background and reasons for transfers that it boggles the mind. While there is a certain point here, the catechism no doubt provides a rationale: Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or FOR MAKING USE OF A DISCREET LANGUAGE. THE DUTY TO AVOID SCANDAL OFTEN COMMANDS STRICT DISCRETION. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it. (caps added)4)whether there was an intent to defraudHow can we compute an intent NOT to defraud from Mahonys record? As a lawyer for survivors says, My experience is, if they get this to trial and any jury sees the documents and finds out what he did, hes finished. The documents tell the tale.Only part of what the documents show per religion reporter William Lobdell: he quietly kept two CONVICTED child molesters in ministry. A priest who admitted to Mahony that he had molested two boys was allowed to keep his job, the authorities werent told, parishioners werent warned, and (you guessed it), the priest went on to molest others. (caps added) 5)The honest services law was intended to help prosecutors combat sleazy politicians who couldnt quite be reached with bribery and extortion statutes.In the movie Deliver Us From Evil, convicted rapist Oliver OGrady tells how, the night before, he was offered an annuity not to testify in a civil trial about what Mahony knew when about his case. Since he was jailed at the time, and about to begin a prison sentence, a civil contempt citation meant nothing. (I spoke with Tom Doyle about these details.) Lets learn under oath whether Mahony tampered with a witness, committed bribery, and obstructed justice.May a jury get to judge how sleazy Mahonys alleged tactics were.

The "honest service" argument may indded prove difficult if not impossible to convince a jury (if it comes to that.)Listen to the NPR report this morning.Dubbing its use"outrageous" may be somewhat premature though.Apparently, The LA District attorney has no such legal option, but, when formerly secret files were given over to his office, they made their way, it seems, to the Federal prosecutor and hence this grand jury.What's there may have raised some prosecutorial outrage.Remember,local prosecutorial dissatisfaction in places like Suffolk Co.,NY and Philadelphia have done little to move the likes of Murphy (by the way, what happened to his whistleblower" deposition this week?) or the Philadelphuia establishment .Victim groups (and probably some conservative Catholic groups who think Mahony is to liberal) are pleased to se him under the gun.More important, to my mind then, is not the applicability of "honest services." but what set this off?

Two disclaimers: (1) I'm not an attorney and have no legal expertise; and (2) I strongly believe that abusers and those who enabled them should be subject to justice.Having said that, though ... the AP story describes the purpose of the law as making it illegal to conspire to deprive consumers of honest services. What springs immediately to mind would be a car dealer who uses deceptive advertising to lure buyers to the dealership, with the intent of doing a bait and switch.Bearing the disclaimers in mind ... I don't see the applicability *of this law* to the archdiocesan situation. Without denying the possibliity that laws were violated, I don't see how it would be this particular one.

It's silly for Mahony to claim to be 'mystified' by this. Over and over, he ignored or concealed clergy sex crimes. Over and over, he knowingly sent predators into unsuspecting parishes. Over and over, Catholics basically took Mahony and his colleagues at their word. And over and over, Catholic kids were raped, fondled and sodomized. That's what this is all about.Paul Moses asks "Should the government be able to determine the proper relationship between a bishop and his flock?" Sorry, that's already been done. Government says bishops can't shoot their flock. This federal prosecutor is just saying bishops can't enable child molesters to molest their flock either.Barbara DorrisOutreach Coordinator, SNAPSurvivors Network of those Abused by Priests6245 Westminster St. Louis MO 63130314 862 7688SNAPnetwork.org

One alleged abuser in Cardinal Mahonys archdiocese was Jesuit Fr. Jerold W. Lindner who taught at Loyola High, Los Angeles from the early 1980s until the late 1990s involved with a student fantasy role-playing group and remote-control car racing.In 2002 William Lynch said he had suffered nearly three decades of irreparable emotional and psychological harm, and attempted suicide two times, because of what happened to him at the hands of then-theology student Jerold Lindner, S.J. during a church-led, family camping trip in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1975.Jesuit leaders said they first learned about Lindner's past in the early 1990s, when Lindners brother told them that Lindner had sexually abused three nieces, a nephew and a younger sibling. After sending Lindner for a psychiatric evaluation, Jesuit leaders claimed the allegations not credible and put him back in the classroom at Loyola High School near downtown Los Angeles.When Lynch's allegations surfaced in 1997, Lindner was removed from active ministry in Los Angeles, said Fr. Thomas H. Smolich, head of the Jesuit California Province in 2002. Smolich is now arguably the top Jesuit USA leader with an office in Washington, DC.Smolich, who said the Lynch settlement was about $600,000, said Lindner was brought to the hillside Jesuit Los Gatos, Calif. complex because, "for lack of a better word, it's a safe house for people accused of these actions.'' The complex, next to the Jesuit California headquarters, has housed five Jesuits accused or convicted of sex-related crimes.Lindner arrived at the Jesuit complex from Los Angeles in September 2002 around the time the Jesuit Calif. Province paid $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit by two retarded dishwashers who said they suffered years of sexual abuse at the Jesuit complex. After arriving Lindner befriended one accused abuser of the dishwashers, Br. Charles Connor. Lindner then gave Connor computer lessons.At Los Gatos Lindner lived in the building next to the office of Fr. Alfred E. Naucke, S.J., a Jesuit leader who taught Linder at a Jesuit high school decades ago. In 2009 Lindner is believed to be teaching English as a second language in the San Jose area. Lindner has a master degree in this or a related field.If you are a Loyola High alum who know of victims of Jerold Lindner, please have the courage to contact law enforcement.

Jim - a book could be written about the LA Fiasco. Agree with Carolyn's points despite Cafardi's statements today that reaffirm your final paragraph.Another item to keep in mind in terms of LA frustration.....part of the final $760 million dollar settlement was release of personnel files via a neutral judge. The diocese continues to block, obsfucate, and delay this action with repeated motions.It may be a stretch but Mahoney has hidden behind the law; so, "stretching" the law is fine. In fact, nationally we need to reconsider our current sexual abuse laws e.g. SOLs. In some ways I see this story linked to the blog below about institutions. We all need institutions (Wall Street, Banks, Churches, etc.) but institutions can grow complacent, fat, lazy, unethical, immoral. Who keeps them in line if they also make up the rules or, at least, the rules/law favors them?

LA Archdiocese' Mahony-CriminalsClergy Sexual Abuse is the worst type of hypocrisy in the church today. These criminals and sexual predators should be prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law. Raping and abusing boys, girls and women is a crime in any part of a civilized society. Jesus Christ Himself called these type of abusers and religious hypocrites "vipers and snakes....whitewashed tombs." The Catholic church teaches that if you commit suicide you go to hell. (although false doctrine and not found in the Bible) I close with this observation: If the hundreds of altar boys/children that were raped, abused and sodomized by priests and have committed suicide to end the torment, pain and horror inflicted upon them by the priest/Catholic Church.... then it is by the Catholic churches own belief system the following could be surmised ... That the abuser priests and the church's active collusion and cover up are directly responsible for that victim going in hell by Catholic standards. The Biblical truth is these severely injured victims are in heaven and God would never condemn a mentally and emotionally ill person to hell for being raped by wolves in shepherds clothing. These abusive hypocrites are not a reflection of who God is or why Jesus died for all of us....Mark CanforaMark Canfora Ministries6716 Gulf DrPanama City Beach, Florida 32408330 865 1000www.ivegothope.com

In an earlier blog, someone quoted the saying: "lies, damn lies, and statistics." But, thought I would try a comparison to bettter comprehend the history and impact of this diocesan situation.a) Dallas, Texas diocese - since 1990 has grown to more than 1 million Catholics. Since 1985, less than 20 priests have been accused or found guilty of sexual abuse. Even allowing for victims' non-reporting, we have 20 priest pedophiles covering 1 million Catholics (it was much less in the 1970-1980s);b) Los Angeles Archdiocese - has 4+ million Catholics. The lawsuit settled and admittted to 250 priest pedophiles found guility or accusations were found credible. Again, allowing for victims' non-reporting and comparing to Dallas, we have 65 priest pedophiles for every 1 million Catholics. This is 3-4X the pattern in Dallas.Given this simple comparison, what has been going on in Los Angeles, at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo (at times referred to as the purple palace), with religious orders who have appointed priests to the archdiocese. Pedophilia started to be recognized in the late 1950's - so, we go back to Cardinal McIntyre and his successors. Just an intersting thought exercise.

This legal strategy makes perfect sense to this (hypothetical) juror.We've got to remember that it is PEOPLE who establish precedent, make tradition, expand the boundaries of meaning.Hang 'em (Mahony, that is)!!!

Bill,Perhaps it is the SOL window legislation in CA that allowed past victims to get to the courthouse door that is a major factor in the different numbers between Dallas and LA. Because of the window, 300 additional perps were publicly identified in CA. No media will publish an allegation with a priest's name without a legal action of some kind. Absent a criminal prosecution (prevented by SOL again), the only way to name abusers openly is to file a civil lawsuit.The courthouse door is closed in TX and elsewhere, except for Delaware, which passed window legislation a few years ago. And of course the Church fights SOL reform with windows with legal and political hardball of the highest or lower order, take your pick.Mahony only settled after he lost a US Supreme Court battle to keep documents secret. And as you say, he still wages that battle to keep them hidden, even after agreeing in the settlement to release them. He makes Bleak House look like a model of efficiency. Without the documents, there would have been no scandal, because judges typically sealed everything.If you had window legislation across the country, I believe the number of named molesters would rise dramatically. Believe me, we have seen only the tip of the iceberg.Someone wrote, today's creative lawyering becomes tomorrow's precedent. I certainly hope so in this case. The application of the honest services legal theory is just fine with me. You are a corporation (which Mahony is in his person), you provide services and obey criminal law, you have to be honest. A car dealer or a retailer or a grocery store's dishonesty is tiddlywinks compared to a cardinal's cover-up of sexual abuse. Accountability time, Lord willing. It's long overdue.

If Mahony is indited, Cardinal George should do quick exit to Rome. Having the same cover-up problems as Mahony, he will be getting the 'once over' by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Gov. Blago/Scooter Libby fame. If I were George I would start angling/resigning, getting to Rome, before 'super prosecutor' gets on my case. Fitzgerald, a Brooklynite, [a Jesuit] Regis HS/ HarvardLaw graduate is the new Elliot Ness against the 'wise guys''.

The dioceses (including LA) have used every legal tactic and trick in the book to protect their bank accounts and, to even greater extent, their "privacy." This is why you've seen so many settlements at the brink of trials. They simply don't want the powers behind the cover-ups to be put on the public stand.Now the show (or ecclesial slipper) is on the other foot. The prosecution are getting creative with their lawyering.The Feds are reasonably adept at this--- finding ways to make those who work very hard to elude accountability from one direction be accountable from another. Let us not forget, shall we, that they finally put Al Capone away for tax evasion. Nobody claimed that it was the only crime of which he was guilty. It was just that they couldn't "get" him on the other, larger, crimes.It is interesting that anyone would have a sense of outrage at any means necessary to call an Archbishop to a legal accounting for willful acts of sheltering brother priests from the consequences of act of rape, sodomy, molestation, and endangering of minors and vulnerable adults.Next, they should turn to the religious orders, who have been even more intractable and protective of their brethren and sistren.

Cardinal Mahoney, along with many bishops, did something morally wrong in inflicting known abusers on unsuspecting parishes. The problem is whether they did anything illegal. Laws are made to cover only crimes that people probably commit. As an extreme example, a German helped someone commit suicide and then ate part of his body. The German courts discovered there is no law against cannibalism in Germany no one ever thought to pass one. Similarly, no one ever thought to make it a crime to put known pedophiles in parishes with access to children, because no one thought anyone would be so depraved and hard-hearted as to do that. Our lawmakers were insufficiently acquainted with Catholic bishops.

Depending upon the state and the year, failure to report to authorities is a criminal offense.

Yes, Bill, failure to report is a criminal offense but authorities have to discover it before the SOL expires, which is not possible when the secrets were kept with great skill. George escaped prosecution because three years had passed since a violation.Cincinnati's Pilarczyk appeared in court in 2003, pleading no contest that the Archdiocese had "knowingly failed" to report abuse five times from 1979 through 1982." Cincinnati paid a 10K fine, spent an hour being criminally convicted with no real consequences, and life is fine. Never mind Pilarczyk had spent years denying any wrongdoing, which I call lying through his teeth.In Boston, the Archdiocese had simply been successful in preventing any legislation that made clergy mandated reporters. After the Globe exposure, a reporting law was passed. That is true of other states as well.In NH, Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian (he is unknown but belongs up there with the McCormacks, the Laws, the Mahonys) handled cases for 19 years. I asked why the AG could not prosecute for a particular case involving a minor at the time, and was told the state had one year in which to act. It was decades before the AG found out. Christian was also the reason the AG was including perjury in the planned indictment that was plea bargained. Tell the court a convicted rapist had no prior problems, when you personally handled other complaints years earlier.See a truth list I compiled based on the truth learned from 9,000 secret archives released in the plea deal at http://votf.org/Survivor_Support/truth_list.html ; it should really be called a diocesan lies list.Bottom line, mandated reporting laws are a step in the right direction, but the real tool to force open the record of deceit and corruption is repeal of SOL laws with windows. Or, US attorneys who sit up straight and read DA, AG, and grand jury documents on www.BishopAccountability.org. The survivor attorney is correct just show jurors the documents. To Lee Podles: there may not be specific crimes about placing known pedophiles, but there are laws about criminal endangerment of children.

I am an attorney and a graduate of Saint Louis University Law School (where I was editor-in-chief of the Saint Louis University Law School). I believe i can comment on the ironies of this subject from a unique perspective.IRONY #1 - As in-house counsel for the Diocese of Phoenix, I experienced the excesses of a Republican prosecutor (Rick Romley) who used a grand jury investigation and threat of indictment of the Bishop to exact concessions from the Bishop regarding the internal governance of the Diocese. Ironically, the name of the Bishop was Thomas O'Brien. Later the BBC documentary "Sex Crimes and the Vatican" featured Mr. Romley in a prominent role. Mr. Romley's inflammatory statements in the film were demonstrably false and, in my opinion, constituted a clear violation of Arizona's grand jury secrecy law. In less than a year after the film aired, members of Arizona's Congressional delegation lobbied for Mr. Romley to be appointed to a cabinet position as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. To his credit, President Bush rejected their recommendation.

IRONY #2 - I have the "honor" of being sued as a "racketeer" by Professor G. Robert Blakey and his legal colleagues on behalf of their client the Navajo Tribe. Other named defendants included such "racketeers" as Southern California Edison Company, Salt River Project, and Peabody Coal Company. I have since been dismissed as a defendant. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the primary basis for the suit in the case Navajo Nation v. United States. Nevertheless, the case continues against the remaining "racketeers." I find it ironic that Professor Blakey is unhappy that the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles is using the "honest-services fraud" statute against the Los Angeles Archdiocese in a way that Congress never intended. In my mind, Professor Blakey tried to use the RICO statute against me (and the other named "racketeers") in a way Congress never intended.

IRONY #3 - On the same day stories about the use of the "honest-services fraud" statute against the Archdiocese appeared, the media reported that one Todd A. Boulanger, an associate of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was charged with conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud. One might ask who employed Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Boulanger when such acts were allegedly committed. The answer is the law firm Greenberg Traurig. That is the same law firm that has been unrelenting in its lawsuits against and criticisms of Catholic Bishops (particularly Cardinal Law) for negligent supervision of their priests.

And your point is? That is why we see the statutes of the lady of justice blindfolded. This blog started by asking about the plausibility of this legal strategy. Obviously, law firms and lawyers do what they do even if it is inconsistent, ironic, or immoral. So, do bishops. My concern is about the victims, how they have been and are currently treated especially by their own church and bishops, period!Carolyn - I mention the reporting laws because some of the recent reports e.g. Chicago are about movement and protection of pedophiles within the SOL and in states that mandate reporting. Yet, DAs continue to not press charges.Believe there is currently a Kentucky abuse case in front of a federal appeals court that has granted approval/legal grounds for the case to move forward - it includes RICO provisions and names the Vatican. This has been tried before and has always failed given international law. But, who knows?

Cardinal Mahony quotes: that he has acknowledged making mistakes in the handling of abusive priests decades ago and that the church has made significant reforms as a result."We admitted . . . all of our failures along the way and so we don't know where this is coming from," he said.I am guessing that quite a few criminals admit their failures and acknowledge making mistakes, BUT they still get sent to jail for their crimes. The very worse statement came from diocese lawyer: Hennigan said in an e-mailed statement. "While the history of clergy sexual abuse in the Church is regrettable, it served as the foundation for broad reforms in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles."It is so sad that thousand of innocent kids had to get sexually abused by priests in order for the church leaders to get a 'foundation' to NOT treat kids like dirt. I guess they didn't know that children are actually human beings too.Judy Jones, SNAP director Southeastern Ohio636-433-2511

Just pointing out ironies. Next time you look at the statue of justice you might notice that she also holds a scale. With a U.S. attorney now investigating an Archdiocese that has already paid out close to a billion dollars in settlements, attorney fees and prior investigations, the focus should probably be on that balance rather than the blindfold. Here, the justice system has gotten far out of balance against the Catholic Church.

Attorney Leisse, thank you for posting. We come from very, very different perspectives, and some of my views may be sharp. I would make a terrible lawyer because I lack a dispassionate view of the process. I have worked closely with survivors for seven years now, and you folks were the enemy. Now, on dotCommonweal, we are learning to pray for our enemies (a previous post), so I mean no ill will. I met someone from Romley's office at the first National Conference on Sexual Abuse at Cardozo Law School in 2003 but cannot remember her name. I am not a lawyer but I went to the training for lawyers to learn what I could. Marci Hamilton organized the conference with Big Names (Tom Doyle, Jeff Anderson, Eric MacLeish), and I learned much. OBriens killing of a man his car hit without stopping (didnt know he hit someone, as I recall) was tragic.1) Re: "As in-house counsel for the Diocese of Phoenix, I experienced the excesses of a Republican prosecutor (Rick Romley) who used a grand jury investigation and threat of indictment of the Bishop to exact concessions from the Bishop regarding the internal governance of the Diocese."There is a good article and file on www.BishopAccountability.org that covers OBriens record and mentions you somewhere: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/az-phoenix/phoenix-agreement-resign... Personally, I wish OBrien had been indicted for felony obstruction of justice, but I understand why pleas are negotiated. The only objection I have is that the restrictions on OBrien handling cases should apply only to him, not his successor. I congratulate Mr. Romley for his aggressive stance though. If he did not have the goods, the plea deal would have been rejected, IMHO. O'Brien allegedly instructed a priest in 1985 to persuade a Catholic family not to report an incident of sexual molestation to the police, and when the priest refused to carry out that order, the bishop allegedly forced him out of the church. It is infuriating when the truth is withheld, and bishops essentially get away with criminal conduct. I fear all the documents were kept secret. Certainly OBrien lacked any credibility to handle allegations, and I think survivors and laity have a right to the truth.

2) I am sorry the RICO statute has been ineffective so far against the Church. See The Law Cant Stop at the Church Door, Washington Post 3-14-04 by Stephen Galebach, a lawyer on Reagans staff who worked on the Child Protection Act of 1984. Sorry I do not have the link.Snip:Until now, prosecutors have been loath to find mens rea, or criminal intent, in any bishop or church leader for aiding and abetting. No matter how serious their malfeasance, surely they did not intend that minors be harmed. But bad has now gone to worse. If a bishop himself has sexually abused minors -- as has been alleged in Springfield, Mass., and a number of other places -- then one can no longer presume an absence of mens rea when such a bishop harbors or protects other predators. If sexual abuse is systemic within a diocese, and the harboring of predators follows a pattern from the top, there are laws that can apply, namely the RICO (or racketeer-influenced and corrupt organization) laws, which have been on the books for more than 30 years. Until now, it was hard to conceive of applying them to a church. But consider Springfield again. If a group of clergy actually operated on the understanding that sex with boys was okay -- as one of their colleagues recently stated -- and if they acted in concert, protecting each other and destroying records as has been alleged by another of their colleagues, and if members of such a network committed two or more offenses such as sexual exploitation, fraud or obstruction of justice, then criminal RICO laws would indeed apply to that network of clerics and persons collaborating with them.

3) Greenberg Traurig has an enviable, wonderful record in representing survivors and getting documents released, so we finally know the truth. I knew and admired Eric MacLeish, and value his work keenly on Shanley and other abusers. He got many molesters removed from service by threatening action, and survivors and parents owe him a huge debt of gratitude. I have seen many of his legal filings, worked with him, and thank God for his efforts. He was in from the beginning with the Porter case, a real hero. GT is a huge firm, and I am disappointed you believe his work is marred by an unrelated case. I know a bit of what Eric went through. Any lawsuit and criticism against Law is more than warranted in my view. Laws counsel, Wilson Rogers, was thankfully terminated when Law resigned.

Attorney Leisse,I believe the scale of justice has been so heavily tilted in favor of bishops personally that it is now their turn individually, for a change, not their archdioceses or staffs to stand before a court about their own criminal actions.The absolutely only personal consequence for criminal endangerment of children, failure to report, obstruction of justice, violation of duty of care, and perjury by any common sense standard has been promotion to higher office. Lady Justice has been hoodwinked by deferential law enforcement, clever lawyering, inadequate laws, and the limitations of artificial SOL's totally unrelated to the reality of abuse. In the words of the prophet Amos, Let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. The game has been played too long on bishops' terms.I used to demonstrate outside the Red Mass each year and watch police chiefs in uniform, legislators, lawyers, etc. worship at mass celebrated by Law's chief aide for sexual abuse. I read a statement in 2006, Justice Denied: Bishops and the Law. Permit me to quote the last few paragraphs:"No bishop in New Hampshire or elsewhere has been held accountable personally in a court of law for knowingly endangering children, for obstructing justice, or for the failure to report allegations. Indeed, bishops have been rewarded with plum assignments for protecting the institutional church while displaying gross disregard of their most basic pastoral obligations to children. This is justice denied and justice defiled. Why is this so? Inadequate laws, the statute of limitations, ingrained deference to clergy, judges who sealed documents, prosecutors who failed to indict, police officials who overlooked crimes, lawyers who used hardball tactics against victims, all played a part in the past. Straining the gnats of procedure, and jurisdiction, and technicality, and interpretation, and liability left victims abandoned, bishops unaccountable, and the law mocked.......Where does that leave those who seek justice? It leaves many praying, but praying without the distraction of such bishops as celebrants or concelebrants; praying mightily that someday they will acknowledge the plain, simple truth of their culpability for lying to survivors, covering up the sexual abuse of minors, and criminally endangering children. To date, their confessions have been versions of, Bless me Father, for sin had occurred. Those who attend the Red Mass bear witness against themselves by honoring bishops with dishonorable records. Why, why rub elbows with the scribes and Pharisees in the temple, pay tithes of deference and respectability, sit in the place of honor at a posh dinner with the hierarchy, lengthen the tassels of your worldly influence, but tie up heavy burdens for those who suffered? If a priest protected by McCormack or Christian had molested your son or daughter, would you still be found among the whitewashed sepulchres?"Well, that's what my experience has brought me to, for better or worse.

Thanks, Carolyn. Mr. Leisse - billion+ spent on the legal case in LA. That was a decision by Mahoney (insurance companies, religious orders). He had a choice to handle it differently that would have cost much less and been much more pastoral.

A quick perception based on experience: listening to lawyers giving unique perspectives is listening to one side of an adversarial argument.Issues about what justice is and how we arrive at it and what its goals are continues (and will continue to evolve.The Los Angeles story is just one sad chapter of how our hikerachy were more concerned (as some law is today) with the protection of the powerful than the protection of children/innocents/victims and how the manipulation of law assisted and assists them.

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. I'd like to suggest one more thing, from the perspective of someone who spent seven years as a newspaper reporter in federal courts. Federal prosecutors, in particular, have a lot of discretion about what to investigate and which cases to bring. They will respond to public outrage, whether from political motivation, their own simple human outrage, the desire to reform institutions or all of the above. If the Church as an institution had held the bishops accountable, we wouldn't be seeing an investigation like this one now. The bishops may think they have ridden out the storm and that, a zillion dollars later, things have settled down. But another storm may be on the way - if this grand jury probe results in an indictment.

Footnote:SNAP had victims protest outside the Cathedral in L. The Cardinal dismissed them as "an angry mob>" SNAP shot back with pictures askin gif they looked like an angry mob.My impression is that Church leadership again shows quick insensitivityu towards protest/criticism and inspires more disbelief than beleif in doing so.

I am writing in response to your article on a grand jury looking into the priest sexual abuse cases in LA. As someone raped and abused by a priest more than thirty years ago, I applaud their efforts. My suppressed thoughts and feelings were brought to my attention during a series of psychological exams as a result of symptoms and my actions and behaviors over a period of years that concluded I was an undiagnosed and un-medicated manic depressive (bipolar). It was suggested that this experience may have contributed in some way to my diagnosis. I was encouraged to pursue a claim with the Diocese of Trenton in NJ, regarding the behavior of a priest in Ocean County in the seventies. I did, they settled, no criminal charges were brought as the statute of limitations had run. I approached the former priest, he left, married, now top guy at a major non profit corporation representing a textile/commodity producer. I wanted closure, a simple sorry. Despite the settlement, he agreed to pay some small medical bills afterwards, but did not apologize, only expressed his disappointment in me.When I pressed him for a meaningful apology, something I knew he meant, he claimed I was trying to extort him and hired a lawyer to scare me. He is an alcoholic, sought treatment, but despite steps eight and nine in the twelve step program, never reached out to me. I understood he may not have remembered all of it, being drunk most of the time. But he remembered enough to settle and make a subsequent payment. A simple apology was all I was seeking to bring some kind of closure.The statute of limitations worked in his favor. While my life was destroyed at almost every level, suicide attempts, professional ruin, I have worked hard to regain success and continue to do so. I dont think of myself as a victim, but work to find something positive in all of this to help others. The grand jurys pursuit here is a noble cause, it can help others. The Catholic Church more than any other institution teaches you can sin and be forgiven, people make mistakes, but the church and its priests and former priests need to be held to account. They can be forgiven, but to forget the past is to repeat the past. We dont need more victims.Sean MurphyMassachusetts

Mr. Murphy-Thank you for your post. Rest assured that something positive is coming out of your terrible experiences. You are teaching the rest of us Catholics that sometimes it is right, even needsary to talk back to bishops, teven to criticize them personally if need be. The Church needs this lesson. Thank you.