Ex-priest called by federal panel
Archdiocese probed on abuse allegations
LOS ANGELES – A former Los Angeles priest convicted of molesting boys has been called before a federal grand jury investigating how the Los Angeles Archdiocese and Cardinal Roger Mahony handled priest abuse cases, a source told the Los Angeles Times.
Former priest Michael Stephen Baker informed Mahony two decades ago of his abusive acts but was allowed to remain in the ministry. His case has become a symbol of how the church transferred priests who abused young boys. He is in federal custody, said the source.
The news comes six months after the Times reported that the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles had launched a federal grand jury investigation into the response of the Los Angeles church into allegations of molestation by priests in the archdiocese.
The investigation is aimed at determining whether Mahony, and possibly other church leaders, committed “honest services fraud” by failing to deal adequately with priests accused of sexually abusing children, sources said.
Mahony’s attorney has said Mahony is not a target of the federal inquiry, adding that the cardinal was fully cooperating with federal officials.
As the Roman Catholic Church’s highest-ranking official in Southern California, Mahony was dogged for years by allegations of covering up the sexual misconduct of priests.
Two years ago, the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to 508 people who accused priests of sexual abuse. The payout is the largest settlement in a scandal that rocked the Catholic Church nationwide.