Los Angeles prosecutors say they will review documents showing Catholic Church officials discussed ways to hide sexual assaults by priests from law enforcement.
However, a former Los Angeles County district attorney says it may be too late to prosecute under the statute of limitations, the Los Angeles Times said Tuesday.
The newspaper reported Monday internal church documents from 1986 and 1987 show Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who was archbishop at the time, and Monsignor Thomas J. Curry, then the archdiocese's top adviser on sex abuse cases, discussed ways to keep authorities from finding out children were being sexually abused by priests.
A spokeswoman for District Attorney Jackie Lacey said prosecutors will "will review and evaluate all documents as they become available to us," the Times reported Tuesday.
Former District Attorney Steve Cooley, whose office conducted a five-year investigation of clergy sex abuse in Los Angeles, told the Times "it would be great" to prosecute Mahony and Curry for what he called "horrendous, unethical and immoral to the point of biblical proportions" but the three-year statute of limitations might make it impossible.
The records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret, were filed this month as evidence in a civil case. They show Curry proposed ways to keep police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials they sexually abused young boys -- including suggestions the priests be kept from seeing therapists who might tell police, or be sent to other states to avoid criminal investigators.
The documents show Mahony ordered Monsignor Peter Garcia out of California "for the foreseeable future," because if Garcia "were to appear here within the archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors."
Mahony, who retired in 2011, has apologized on more than one occasion for the way he handled sex abuse cases involving the clergy.
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