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L.A. Priest Abuse Claims Increase

Jun 21, 2002 | AP More than 100 people in the nation's largest Catholic diocese have complained to authorities in recent months of sexual abuse by priests, authorities said Thursday.

Most of the allegations — involving 61 clerics, some of whom may be dead — date from years or decades ago. No priests have been arrested or charged, but one case involving abuse of a boy in the past three years was forwarded to the district attorney, police Lt. Daniel Mulrenin said.

Authorities said the complaints in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles surfaced after the priest abuse scandal emerged in Boston in March, then erupted nationally.

Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg said the complaints raised a number of questions.

"We don't know if these are living or dead priests; they don't have an exact count there," he said. "We don't know if these priests are current priests or former priests. We don't know if they are priests of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles or are priests who live somewhere else."

Also Thursday, Cardinal Roger Mahony expanded an advisory board that will review accusations of misconduct in the archdiocese, which serves approximately 5 million Catholics.

The board, established in 1992, will now have 11 lay people and two priests. It will investigate reports of abuse and make recommendations to Mahony.

"It gives the group far more responsibility and will help me greatly in making certain that all present and future cases are dealt with," Mahony said.

In other developments:

_In Maine, 10 people who say they were sexually molested by priests met with top Roman Catholic officials. Bishop Joseph Gerry has met with abuse victims individually, but the "listening session" was the first meeting with such a group. The goal was to help victims in their healing, said Cynthia Desrosiers, the Maine coordinator for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

_Officials with the Archdiocese of Anchorage said national guidelines adopted at a Roman Catholic bishops conference are flawed but a crucial first step in publicly dealing with pedophile priests.

Archbishop Roger Schwietz and former Archbishop Francis Hurley said they are concerned about the aspect of the policy that calls for abusers — including those whose offenses occurred in the past — to be stripped of all church duties although they would technically remain priests. Hurley said the problem is including past abusers who have successfully been rehabilitated.

The policy passed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas last week must still be authorized by the pope to be considered law by the Catholic church in the United States

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