As the first set of religious orders’ files on accused sex abusers in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is released, one leading priest has urged prayer for victims and continued efforts for child protection.
“Please continue to pray for the victims and their families and all impacted by this terrible tragedy in the history of our Church,” said Monsignor Joseph V. Brennan, Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General for the L.A. archdiocese.
“Let us all continue to remain vigilant and work together to protect children and young people from all harm,” he added in an Aug. 1 message to priests, deacons, parish life directors and principals of the archdiocese.
“The archdiocese and our Catholic community of faith in Los Angeles remain committed to the assistance of victims, protection of children and the prevention of abuse.”
The file release is part of the $660 million abuse settlement reached in 2007. The first set of files has documents from five religious orders: the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Marianists, the Benedictines, and two orders of religious sisters.
The release concerns 10 priests or religious brothers and two nuns, each of whom were accused of molesting children in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The files report 21 alleged victims whose allegations cover incidents ranging from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The files are particularly detailed about Father Ruben Martinez, O.M.I., whose actions prompted eight lawsuits settled in 2007.
The documents show decades of therapy dedicated to trying to cure Martinez of pedophilia. During the therapy, he admitted abusing his younger brother as a child, the Associated Press reports. He said he abused about 100 boys in total.
He worked in parishes in the Los Angeles archdiocese in the 1970s and 1980s, beginning at a small parish in Brawley, Calif. in 1969.
According to the files’ psychological reports, he said he started molesting children in 1970 and stopped “direct sexual contact” with boys after a mother complained to his pastor in 1982. He claimed a 1986 complaint made him stop molesting boys completely .
The files are not clear whether the Oblates or the archdiocese knew of the complaints. Around 1986 he began his therapy sessions and started a counseling program for people with sexual compulsions. He also joined a “gay pride” group and at one point marched in a gay pride parade.
A 50-year-old man who sued over the priest’s abuse, speaking anonymously to the Associated Press, said the priest would have him and other boys wrestle in their underwear, sometimes with the priest, and take pictures of them. The priest would take groups of young boys to see R-rated movies and on group trips.
On one trip the priest stopped with six boys in front of a man’s apartment and took one boy in, leaving the other boys in a hot car for several hours. After the priest and the boy returned, the boy cried for hours.
“A lot of us kind of knew what had happened to him,” the abuse victim told the AP.
The victim’s lawsuit was settled in 2007 but Fr. Martinez was never charged criminally. His abuses were not reported until years afterward.
After treatment in the early 1990s, he was assigned to a small parish in a remote town in southeastern California. However, he would drive miles to San Diego to find male prostitutes.
Fr. Martinez was removed from active ministry in 1993. He is now 72 and lives in Oakland.
In 2003, the priest worked as a switchboard operator in the archive room at the Oblates’ Washington, D.C. offices. He was reprimanded for making sexual jokes, looking at sexually suggestive pictures of young boys, and downloading files on “topics dealing with the gay lifestyle,” the released documents said.
During a 2005 psychiatric assessment, the priest denied any contact with a child in 23 years.
Msgr. Brennan, recognizing the “troubling and upsetting” nature of the files on abuse in religious orders, said that those affected can find help by contacting the archdiocese’s Office of Victims Assistance Ministry.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has set a September deadline for the public release of files on accusations against religious order members in the archdiocese. Other orders involved include the Salesians and Vincentians.
The files are distinct from those of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which released 12,000 pages of abuse-related documents several months ago.
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