Jan 18, 2006

LA priest's trial may put spotlight on Mahony

A lineup of men whom [Father Michael] Wempe is alleged to have abused while working as a member of the Roman Catholic clergy will be on hand to take the stand as his trial gets under way in Los Angeles today.

Wempe served at four Catholic parishes in and around Ventura County between 1969 and 1987. He was arrested in 2003 for molesting five boys in incidents alleged to have happened from 1977 to 1986 in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Diego counties. Victims have claimed he sexually abused them during camping trips, car rides, motorcycle rides and extended visits to parish rectories.

Mahony has admitted he erred in transferring Wempe.

"Hundreds of victims have been denied this process because church officials aided and abetted and covered up crimes by the clergy in the Catholic Church," [SNAP's Mary Grant] said. "So when we see this, it gives us some hope that justice will be done."

The trial will be watched by many.

Grant is hoping it will bring light to Mahony's involvement.

"This is one step in that direction," she said. "We believe that Cardinal Mahony should be criminally indicted for his complicity in the crimes by his priests."
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