Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese releases abuse files
Twenty-nine clergy tied to local churches are included in list of 122.
Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / February 6, 2013)
Of the 29 men who were named, eight were accused of committing sex abuse while assigned to local parishes in Burbank, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Montrose and La Crescenta. Of those eight priests, three — Leland Boyer, Lynn Caffoe and John Kohnke — are dead. The other 21 were either not assigned to local churches at the time of the allegation being made, or there were no files listed.
Richard Henry, who served as a priest at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Montrose between 1982 and 1986, was sentenced to eight years in prison for molesting four boys whose families attended the church after confessing to psychiatrists, according to the archdiocese records.
One of Henry's victims committed suicide.
Records show the archdiocese paid for extensive therapy at a psychiatric facility, where Henry was diagnosed as a pedophile.
“The kid in me is terrified, but by acknowledging the emotion rather than suppressing it, that and similar feelings are not overpowering,” Henry wrote in a letter contained in his file.
The archdiocese posted the personnel files pertaining to 122 priests on its website last week following a Los Angeles County Superior Court order.
The clergy members were named in a 2007 settlement in which the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to settle hundreds of sex abuse claims. The documents include more than 10,000 pages of previously confidential personnel files of alleged abusers, documents detailing sex abuse allegations, psychological evaluations, and internal memos between church officials who plotted to keep the information from law enforcement.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez last month relieved Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of his public duties amid outcry over how he mishandled the sex abuse claims.
Of the 29 priests with ties to the region, two of them served assignments at more than one local parish.
In Pasadena, 10 men held assignments between 1922 and 2004 at St. Andrew Catholic Church, St. Philip the Apostle, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the shuttered St. Luke's Hospital.
Kohnke was arrested in Orange County on suspicion of engaging in sex acts with a 16-year-old boy while he served as priest for St. Luke's in 1974. Los Angeles police also arrested him on suspicion of masturbating in a public bathroom in North Hollywood.
Another eight priests listed in the files served between 1934 and 1985 at Holy Family Catholic Church and Incarnation Catholic Church in Glendale.
One of them, Donald Farmer, was charged in 2003 with molesting four teens in San Bernardino County, according to the files. He denied the allegations in a 2003 letter to Mahony saying they were part of a “well-orchestrated campaign to discredit priests and the Church.”
The case was eventually dismissed, according to the San Bernardino County district attorney's office.
While at Holy Family, a woman in 1994 alleged that she too was abused by Farmer from 1967 to 1969. He was defrocked in 1972.
Farmer did not return requests for comments.
Another priest from Holy Family accused of sex abuse, Christian Van Liefde, was unavailable for comment. According to the archdiocese files, he denied allegations by a female student at Holy Family who alleged that he molested her in a car, at her parents' home and at the beach.
In Burbank, five clergy assigned to St. Finbar Parish and St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church — which at the time was Holy Trinity Parish —between 1939 and 1982 are also named.