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With all eyes on Rome, Archdiocese of Los Angeles settles child sex abuse cases

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Archdiocese is set to pay a $10 million settlement to victims of a notorious pedophile priest in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. The settlement will allow the victims and the frequently deposed Cardinal Mahony, to move on from this part of the scandal. The settlement demonstrates the commitment of the Archdiocese to resolve these cases.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a $10 million deal, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has settled the cases of four men who were molested as boys by former priest Michael Baker. Baker has been accused of molesting 23 boys over several decades. He was defrocked in 2000, and sent to prison in 2007. He was released in 2011 after serving only four years.

Baker's victims have settled cases previously, however new urgency in these cases developed after Archbishop Gomez reviewed the formerly secret files which contained evidence of abuse and cover-up. Those files were released in January, and in light of the new knowledge, the Archdiocese moved to settle the cases as quickly as possible to minimize the refreshed pain of the victims caused by the publicity.

At all times, the Archdiocese was aware the cases would be settled and it was only necessary to agree on a reasonable figure.

The files which were released in January show that Cardinal Mahony badly mismanaged the cases of Baker and other accused pedophile priests. Baker, who confessed to abusing boys in 1986, was initially sent to a New Mexico treatment facility. His misdeeds were not reported to the police. After completing his program, he returned to Los Angeles and was assigned to another parish where he molested again.

Eventually he was defrocked and later prosecuted, but not before he had spent the better part of three decades abusing boys.

Cardinal Mahony has apologized for his mismanagement of the case and still asks for forgiveness. The settlements help, but the public can be exceedingly unforgiving where sex crimes are involved. It is likely the best the Cardinal can do to live the balance of his years telling the truth and remaining faithful and upright in all his ways. Only then can he offer something meaningful to the victims who suffered because of his inaction.

Tragically, even that may not count for much.

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