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Lawsuit Alleges Abusive Priests In LA Archdiocese Protected Each Other

Dec 18, 2003 | AP

A lawsuit alleges 28 high-ranking priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles protected each other from allegations of sexual abuse in a "systemic failure" to protect children.

The civil lawsuit, filed on behalf of 17 alleged priest sex abuse victims, says the archdiocese had an "institutional and cultural acceptance and acquiescence in child molestation by priests."

The suit claims priests accused of molestation were given refuge at parishes run by sexually abusive pastors. It alleges that abusive priests were named to prominent positions such as auxiliary bishops, vicar generals and recruiters of priests between 1966 and 2002.

Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg called the allegations "over the top and without merit."

"Abuse of minors is often a crime that happens in darkness," he said.

It alleges that the group of abusive priests had enough influence that "fellow priests did nothing to prevent the continuation of abuse because they themselves were molesting or they feared reprisal from the high-ranking priests who were child molesters."

The lawsuit is among hundreds being filed statewide in advance of a year-end deadline for filing civil sex abuse claims against institutions such as the archdiocese, regardless of when the alleged crimes took place.

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