Local TV hit hard all day Wednesday on the archdiocese revelations of more complaints of sexual abuse by priests and reactions from District Attorney Steve Cooley and lawyers for the hundreds of alleged victims. The New York Times' second-day lede in Thursday's paper cogently summarizes the response:
By releasing files on scores of priests accused of sexually molesting children, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles hoped to quiet critics who have accused it of stonewalling and to speed a settlement with 560 accusers in a civil suit.
But the disclosures on Tuesday instead provoked an outcry from those who say they were victimized by priests, accusations of a coverup from the district attorney who is pursuing criminal charges against several priests and promises from lawyers in the civil case to press their claims in court to gain full access to the church's personnel files.
Thursday's L.A. Times, meanwhile, unveils the paper's own computer-assisted analysis of archdiocese records and leads the paper with a pointed story:
The clergy sexual abuse scandal reached far more broadly across the Los Angeles Archdiocese — and put far more children at risk — than has previously been known, according to a Times study that examined the records of hundreds of accused priests.
Although the sexual abuse scandal has been the subject of more than 560 court claims and a report by the archdiocese, basic information on the dimensions of the problem have remained sketchy. The Times analysis is the first to quantify the breadth of the scandal in the archdiocese.
Molestations have been alleged at roughly 100 parishes. But because the accused priests moved around the archdiocese on average every 4.5 years, the total number of parishes in which alleged abusers served is far larger — more than three-fourths of the 288 parishes, according to the study, which examined records back to 1950.
In an LAT sidebar, Cooley calls this week's disclosure by the archdiocese "little more than a public-relations ploy...The real question is why the archdiocese refuses to turn over grand jury-subpoenaed personnel records to prosecutors."
Archdiocese admits more priest abuse complaints