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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Archdiocese to Pay $10M to Sex Abuse Victims

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to pay victims of alleged sex abuse cases in a settlement announced Thursday.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay about $9,990,000 in a settlement of four cases that accuse a former priest of molesting children, attorneys explained Thursday.

Attorney John Manly addresses the press while Michal Duran and his wife wait to the side. (Tiara Chiramonte/ATVN)
Attorney John Manly addresses the press while Michal Duran and his wife wait to the side. (Tiara Chiramonte/ATVN)

Over a twenty-six year period from 1974-2000, Michael Baker allegedly abused four boys. He was convicted of child molestation in 2007 and was released on parole in 2011.

The settlement also concerns alleged misconduct by Cardinal Rodger Mahoney, who retired as Los Angeles Archbishop in 2011.

The victim's attorney, John Manly, claims in 1986 Baker told Mahoney about his actions with the young boys in and Cardinal Mahoney did nothing to prevent it.

Cardinal Mahoney removed Baker from ministry and sent him to get psylogical treatment, but returned to ministry one year later. Baker was not removed from ministry until 2000, despite claims of interactions with boys.

"We presented evidence that Cardinal Mahony and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles knew of Father Baker's sexual abuse of children and concealed his identity from law enforcement and the public," Manly explained.

"Instead, they intentionally sent him to minister and teach in low-income and primarily Hispanic parishes and schools, because of their lack of knowledge of our laws and customs, their reluctance to contact law enforcement and their devotion to the Roman Catholic Church," he continued, hoping that the settlement sets a standard for cases like this to never happen again. 

According to Manly, two of the victims, who are brothers, will receive $4 million each and the other two victims will receive one about $1 million.

Michal Duran claims to be one of Baker's victims. "Now we know that I was but one of his many victims.  Rather than protect us, Cardinal Mahony and the Church protected our abuser," he explained.

The settlement comes a day after the election of the first Latin American pope, Pope Francis. Duran, who is Latino, says having a Latino pope does not make him feel more hopeful or protected. "For me there's no significance in the new pope because my faith in the Catholic Church has been destroyed," he said.

However, he hopes that the new pope will work to stop cases like this from happening again. "I hope he has a little more sympathy than the previous pope and is smart about it," Duran said.

Cardinal Mahoney was in Rome Wednesday to vote for the new pope. In an article in the Huffington Post, Manly expresses his disgust. "The person who could have stopped this (the abuse) in his tracks and prevented three out of four of these children from being sexually assaulted is now sitting in Rome voting for the next vicar of Christ. I find that terribly troubling," he explained. Cardinal Mahoney has publically apologized for the way he handled the abuse cases.

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