Files show diocese masked sexual abuse by shuffling priests

Diocesan personnel files of 15 priests and teachers indicate that officials of the Diocese of Orange in Southern California moved pedophile priests between parishes for two decades, reported Reuters.

A Los Angeles judge ordered the files released on Tuesday as part of a $100-million settlement, reached in January between the Diocese of Orange and 90 alleged victims of abuse.

Five of the priests are dead. The 10 other priests and teachers raised no objection.

"As a compassionate Church, we did not do right by those who suffered,” said Bishop Tod Brown of Orange. He was appointed bishop in 1998, after most of the alleged abuse had taken place.

“I hope and pray that the release of these documents marks a turning point toward healing and recovery for those who have suffered and for their families," Bishop Brown said in a statement.

Reuters reported that the most damaging files centered on five priests. The files showed how bishops and administrators played down allegations and often minimized concerns of teachers and parents.

In one case, officials reportedly moved a serial molester to Mexico. In another, they offered an abuser several thousand dollars to leave the priesthood quietly.

One bishop wrote to a parishioner describing one priest as "a fine priest, zealous and generous-hearted." The priest, Eleuterio Ramos, died in 2004 after telling police a year earlier he had abused at least 25 boys.

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