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More Revealed About Sex Abuse By San Diego Catholic Priests

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Video published October 29, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Child molestation is a horrific crime but when the offender is a trusted authority figure like a priest it's nearly incomprehensible. Here in San Diego, a group of abuse victims has been engaged in a decade-long court battle with the Roman Catholic Diocese. Thousands of pages from personnel files of accused priests were released to the public last weekend. KPBS senior editor Mark Sauer explains the significance of these documents.

Child molestation is a horrific crime but when the offender is a trusted authority figure like a priest it's nearly incomprehensible. Here in San Diego, a group of abuse victims has been engaged in a decade-long court battle with the Roman Catholic Diocese. Thousands of pages from personnel files of accused priests were released to the public last weekend. KPBS senior editor Mark Sauer explains the significance of these documents.

Guest

KPBS Senior Editor Mark Sauer

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THE TOPIC OF CHILD MULLLESSATION IS HORRIFIC. WHEN THE OFFENDER IS A TRUSTED AUTHORITY FIGURE LIKE A PRIEST THE CRIME IS ALMOST INCOMPREHENSIBLE. HERE IN SAN DIEGO A GROUP OF ABUSED VICTIMS HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN A DECADE LONG COURT BATTLE WITH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE. THOUSANDS OF PAGES. PERSONNEL FILES OF ACCUSED PRIEST HAVE BEEN RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC. JOINING ME NOW IS MARK SOUR. HE COVERED THIS STORY FOR MANY YEARS AS A REPORTER. MARK, WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE TO THE VICTIMS?

THERE WAS A BIG MONETARY SETTLEMENT HERE $200 MILLION. AS PART OF THAT THE VICTIMS YOU WILL INTERVIEW AND TALK TO THE RELEASE OF THE DOCUMENTS GETTING THE STORY OUT IS AT LEAST AS IMPORTANT. DEPENDENTING ON THE RANGE OF ABUSE HERE FROM MULLLESSATION, FONDLING, TO RAPE, FORCED ORAL SEX IT'S A WIDE RANGE OF EFFECTS. IT CAN BE DEVASTATING.

I'M HERE TO SPEAK OUT FINALLY ABOUT THE ABUSE THAT I SUFFERED WHEN I WAS A CHILD. I HAD BEEN BATTLING THIS FOR A LONG TIME. MY GOAL HERE TODAY IS TO SPEAK OUT AND HAVE OTHER KIDS WHO BEEN ABUSED.

I INTERVIEWED A NUMBER OF VICTIMS. I WILL GIVE YOU ONE EXAMPLE. A FELLOW IN CHYLLIA VISTA. HE HAD BEEN ABUSED FOR ABOUT A YEAR BY THE PARISH PRIEST. HE WORKED UP THE COURAGE TO GO TALK TO HIS MOTHER ABOUT HIM. SHE BEAT HIM. TOOK HIM DOWN TO THE PRIEST. TOLD THE PRIEST. CONFRONTED THE PRIEST. THIS WAS ALL DOCUMENTED AND THE DEPOSITIONS THAT WOULD HAVE GONE TO COURT. THE DIOCESE DECIDED TO DECLARE BANKRUPTCY. THAT PROCESS WENT FROM FEBRUARY UNTIL THANKS GIVING THAT YEAR. THOSE SETTLEMENTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES $200 MILLION HERE. ARCH DIOCESE IN LOS ANGELES $5 MILLION. WE'RE TALKING A QUARTER OF A BILLION DOLLARS. VERY MAJOR CASES HERE.

SO IS THAT WHAT THE DOCUMENTS REVEAL THE STORIES BEHIND THE CASES AND THE SIZE OF THE SETTLEMENT? IS THAT WHAT THEY WERE ABOUT?

NO, WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT. OF COURSE AS WE SEE THEY ARE HAVE LUMINOUS. 10,000 PAGES RELEASED. THERE ARE LETTERS, MANY WRITTEN IN CODE WORDS. WE'RE REASSIGNING YOU TO THIS FACILITY UNTIL THE DESERT HERE SO WE HOPE YOUR IMMATURE BEHAVIOR CAN BE IMPROVED THERE THROUGH COUNSELING. YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. A LOT OF LETTERS AND CODE THINGS AND EUPHEMISMS USED. BUT THEY PAINT AS YOU GO THROUGH THEM AND CERTAINLY THE VICTIMS ARE VERY HAPPY TO HAVE ALL OF THIS OUT. SHOW EXACTLY HOW NOT ONLY DID THE ABUSE HAPPEN, BUT THE COVER UP WAS SO TERRIBLE THEY WOULD SEND THESE FOLKS OFF THE PERPETRATORS. HAVE THEM GET COUNSELING. BRING THEM BACK IN 90 DAYS MAYBE SIX MONTHS. PUT THEM TO ANOTHER PARISH AND NOT WARN ANYBODY THERE.

IT SOUNDS AS THOUGH THE COVER UPS WERE IF NOT AS BAD AS THE PHYSICAL ABUSE. CERTAINLY ADDED TO THE PHYSICAL ABUSE TRAUMA.

THAT IS EXACTLY RIGHT. THAT'S WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO GET THESE DOCUMENTS OUT. TO HAVE IT SEEN BY THE WORLDS. THE WEBSITE BISHOPACCOUNTABILITY IS ONE THAT IS VERY COMPLETE ON THE STORIES. HAS THE DOCUMENTS POSTED BY PRIESTS BY NAMES. MANY OF THEM ARE DEAD. SOME ARE STILL AROUND. ONE OF THE BREESS IS STILL OPERATING AT A CHURCH IN SANADA. AND YOU KNOW THE DIOCESE ITSELF IS STILL FIGHTING OVER 2,000 PAGES.

MARK, JUST QUICKLY, WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG FOR THE DOCUMENTS TO GET OUT?

WELL, IT WAS PART OF THE SETTLEMENT AND IT TOOK A COURT ORDER. FRANKLY THE CHURCH HAS FOUGHT AND FOUGHT ON THIS. THIS HAS BEEN HARD.

MARK SOUR THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

MY PLEASURE.

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