The California attorney general’s office will review how the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles handled allegations of child sexual abuse that have resulted in payouts of hundreds of millions of dollars to victims.
A letter dated Thursday from Attorney General Xavier Becerra to Archbishop Jose Gomez asks the archdiocese to preserve documents relating to abuse allegations involving clergy, staffers and volunteers that were received from 1996 to the present, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
The letter says that as part of the review, the Attorney General’s office will look into whether the archdiocese properly reported the allegations under California law.
It was unclear whether the Attorney General’s office was seeking records from other dioceses.
A statement from the archdiocese said it had not yet received the letter but planned to respond “cooperatively as we have with the past three grand jury investigations of the archdiocese.”
“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is committed to transparency and has established reporting and prevention policies and programs to protect minors and support victim-survivors in our parishes, schools and ministries,” the statement said.
The archdiocese, which covers Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, has paid a record $740 million in settlements to victims. In April, the archdiocese announced an $8 million settlement for a former Catholic school student who was molested by a coach.
The archdiocese is one of many around the country that have been hit with lawsuits and accusations that sex abuse by clergy and others was ignored or swept under the rug. Several dioceses in California have since released updated counts of priests who had been accused of sexual abuse over decades.
Last year, a grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailed decades of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses, alleging more than 1,000 children had been abused over the years by about 300 priests. Since then, federal prosecutors and attorneys general in several other states have launched investigations.
A report by the Illinois attorney general in December said that 690 clergy members had been accused of sexual abuse, while church officials had only publicly identified 185.
The California attorney general’s office review was praised by Joseph George, a Sacramento attorney. George told the Times he has worked with abuse survivors to file with the attorney general’s office more than 100 reports of abuse involving clergy in Los Angeles, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Fresno, San Diego and Monterrey.
“The hope is that the hierarchy will be held accountable and the conduct will be conveyed to the public,” he said. “They keep talking about apologies and evil and mistakes and sins. But what we’re really talking about are crimes that were made by more than just bad apples.”