LA DIOCESE FACES RICO SUIT (Suit says cover-up of alleged sexual abuse a criminal act)

Cardinal Roger Mahony has admitted keeping secret a case of sexual abuse of a child by a priest who continued to molest children for another 14 years. Rev. Michael Baker had confessed to him personally in 1986 about problems in the past of acting out sexually with minors. In a letter dated May 14 to about 1,200 priests in the Los Angeles archdiocese, Mahony wrote that after counseling and treatment of Baker in 1986, he assigned Baker to a number of different parishes until 2000, when the archdiocese was sued by two brothers in Arizona who alleged Baker had continued to molest them for 13 years after his initial confession. Baker was defrocked in 2000 and has since been accused of molesting eight other young boys in the late 1970s and 1980s.  Four men who allegedly were molested as boys by Baker, a Roman Catholic priest, sued him, the Los Angeles archdiocese, and Cardinal Roger Mahony yesterday under federal racketeering laws, charging that the church acted as a criminal enterprise in covering up the abuse. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Los Angeles, comes less than a week after Mahony admitted keeping secret the case of child sexual abuse by Baker for 14 years and apologized for his inaction.

In other developments:

Rev. Alfred J. Bietighofer, 64, who resigned from his parish in Connecticut amid allegations of sexual misconduct was found hanged, an apparent suicide, at a Catholic psychiatric hospital. He was stripped of his priestly powers last month after two men told diocesan officials that he abused them when they were boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was the second apparent suicide of a priest since the sexual abuse scandal erupted in Boston. A priest in Ohio shot himself to death last month after being accused of molesting a girl.

(Los Angeles, California)