The California Attorney General has issued a letter to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the other Catholic dioceses of California asking to review documents related to how the dioceses have addressed past allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests, religious men and women, and other lay Church employees and volunteers.
Archdiocesan spokesperson Carolina Guevara stated that “the Archdiocese has not officially received the letter from the Attorney General, however, we will be responding cooperatively as we have with the past three Grand Jury investigations of the Archdiocese.”
In the letter, Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote that “the California Department of Justice is conducting a review of your archdiocese’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations involving children, including whether your archdiocese has adequately reported allegations of sexual misconduct, as required under California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.”
The records being requested by Becerra’s office include allegations of sexual misconduct received by the dioceses since 1996 — including those handled in compliance with the law — as well as those of individuals accused of misconduct towards minors who may still be active in ministry. The letter also asks for records on actions taken by the dioceses against individuals accused of abuse or anyone who may have failed to report sexual abuse allegations to law enforcement.
In a statement, the Archdiocese said it is committed to transparency and “does not tolerate anyone who does harm to a child or vulnerable person.” It also pointed out that it has “also already cooperated with two state and one federal investigation and continues to fully cooperate with all civil authorities.”
In November, Becerra announced an online reporting form for people who believe they’ve been abused by clergy members in California. However, similar reporting structures have not yet been launched for abuse allegations against employees of other institutions in the state, such as public school districts.
“To date, the Office of the Attorney General has not informed the Archdiocese of any reports made to their online reporting form concerning the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” added Guevara.
The California investigation is similar to probes into the Catholic Church being conducted by other attorney generals across the country, in states including Illinois and Georgia.
The Archdiocese's full statement is below.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is committed to transparency and has established reporting and prevention policies and programs to protect minors and support victim-survivors in our parishes, schools and ministries. The Archdiocese was one of the first dioceses in the nation to publish a comprehensive report in 2004 listing accused clergy both living and deceased and released clergy files as part of a 2007 global settlement.
The Archdiocese has also already cooperated with two state and one federal investigation and continues to fully cooperate with all civil authorities. Allegations of abuse involving minors whether by a member of the clergy or a layperson are reported to law enforcement, public announcements are made at the places where the person has served, and if found credible the person is permanently removed from any capacity according to the Archdiocese’s Zero Tolerance policy.
The Archdiocese does not tolerate anyone who does harm to a child or vulnerable person and remains committed and vigilant in ensuring that parishes, schools and ministries are safe places for everyone in our community.
For more information on the abuse reporting and prevention efforts of the Archdiocese, visit protect.la-archdiocese.org.