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Calif. Officials Seek Abuse Victims

Jun 8, 2002 | AP

Orange County authorities are seeking out potential victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests rather than waiting for people to file police reports.

Investigators have been digging through civil court cases, following up media reports and working with church officials to identify possible victims.

Assistant District Attorney Rosanne Froeberg requested the increased efforts after numerous priest abuse claims were made in the media but never showed up as police reports.

The concern is that some people may not understand that "filing a civil suit or reporting to the diocese does not automatically assure the police are going to be involved in their case," she said Friday.

Froeberg said four priests were under criminal investigation and at least five victims had been identified in the ongoing clergy sex scandal.

In Los Angeles County, the district attorney's office has threatened to call Cardinal Roger Mahony before a grand jury hearing unless the Los Angeles Archdiocese turns over records of priests accused of sexual abuse.

Los Angeles police have 43 investigations involving about 34 priests, including some who are dead, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. Only one or two of the investigations involve recent sex abuse allegations. Many of the cases involve priests whose names were reported to law enforcement by the archdiocese earlier this year.

To avoid problems with the statute of limitations, police must prove that an old case involved multiple victims and that there was substantial sexual contact, among other things.

In other developments:

_In Santa Rosa, Calif., a priest who molested a 13-year-old girl in a church rectory two decades ago was sentenced to seven years in prison. The Rev. Don Kimball, 58, also must register as a sex offender. He no longer has any duties as a priest.

The Boston Archdiocese appealed a judge's order to immediately release transcripts of the depositions of both Cardinal Bernard Law and New Hampshire Bishop John McCormack. After a hearing, Judge Gordon Doerfer said transcripts would not be released before early next week, and gave attorneys until noon Monday to file written arguments.

In Louisville, Ky., the nephew of a priest accused of sexually abusing nearly 50 people was one of 14 people to file lawsuits accusing the archdiocese of covering up sexual abuse complaints. Mark Miller Sr., 37, says his uncle, the retired Rev. Louis Miller, molested him at family gatherings when he was 8 to 11. the priest has denied the allegations.

In Vincennes, Ind., a prosecutor said a priest accused of having sex with a 16-year-old boy more than 20 years ago will not be charged because state laws in effect at the time do not support his prosecution.


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