Church abuse files

What the Catholic church wants to redact

After years of delays and legal wrangling, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is set to make public the confidential personnel records of all priests accused of molesting children. Victims said the files would provide accountability for church leaders who let pedophiles remain in the ministry, but the documents have been scrubbed of those identities, which many regard as the most important information.

Below are examples of what will be removed before the documents’ public release if the court upholds the current plan to redact church officials' names.

A: Unredacted | A: Redacted | B: Unredacted | B: Redacted | C: Unredacted | C: Redacted

This 1996 memo to the archdiocese’s vicar for clergy relates to concerns regarding Michael Baker, a former priest who authorities say was one of the church's most prolific child molesters. In this version of the document, only the victim's name is redacted.

Baker was convicted in 2007 of sexually abusing two boys and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Church officials did not notify police about accusations against Baker until 2002. In this version of the document, church officials' names are redacted.

This letter, written in 1987 by the archdiocese’s vicar for clergy, concerned Father Santiago Tamayo, a priest who admitted having sex with a teenage parishioner. In the unredacted version, the identity of the letter writer, Thomas J. Curry, is visible.

At the same time church officials urged Tamayo to stay out of the country, they were declining to reveal his whereabouts to the victim’s lawyers, who were seeking $21 million. In this redacted version, the letter writer's name is blacked out.

In this 1988 letter, a church official expresses surprise that Tamayo has returned to the U.S. The church had promised to pay his salary while he "pursued the possibility of permanent settlement in the Philippines." In the unredacted version, the identity of the official urging Tamayo to leave the country as well as the fact that Archbishop Roger Mahony was cc'd are both visible.

The letter warns Tamayo that he may be "liable for personal suits" and requests that he return to the Philippines "promptly." In the letter with proposed redactions, there is no way to see the name of the letter writer or the fact that Mahony was cc'd about the case. The victim in the case, who had a child fathered by another priest, ultimately got a $500,000 settlement.


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