That big BOOM you heard this morning in Southern California? That was my head exploding after reading the cover story in today’s Orange County Register.
From the article:
Though the diocese’s growth was exponential, there was also a period of turmoil when the nationwide Catholic Church sex abuse scandal erupted. Bishop Tod Brown, who took the helm in September 1998, faced the brunt of the sexual abuse lawsuits. The diocese was the first to arrive at a settlement, for $100 million, on Jan. 15, 2004.
Brown apologized to 87 alleged victims and issued a Covenant of the Faithful, promising to be transparent with the media and the public. However, Brown later was criticized for not divulging that he also had faced an allegation of sexual abuse. That allegation was dismissed by church officials. Brown said the accusation was not true.
Speaking recently from his office in the Christ Cathedral’s pastoral center, the retired bishop said he was “unaware of the problem” when he took office. (emphasis mine)
I really hate it when people lie.
Unaware of the problem? Brown knew. He knew very, very well.
In fact, Tod Brown had (very poorly) dealt with sex abuse suits while the Vicar General of Monterey, CA in the 1980s. Plus, we can’t forget the fact that he was the target of an investigation. And Brown himself admitted that he had kept the allegation and the investigation secret.
Heck, even Cardinal Roger Mahony disclosed that he had been accused. So the bar is pretty low.
1985 and the Doyle Report
Brown’s time in Monterey is important for another reason. In 1985, he was the Vicar General, Chancellor, and Moderator of the Curia. This was the year that Fr. Thomas Doyle delivered the Doyle Mouton Report, outlining the potential scope and scale (and civil liability) of clergy sexual abuse in the United States. Although the bishops scuttled the report, there is a high probability that a rising star and powerful priest like Tod Brown knew full well that the report existed and that it was a bombshell.
And then, there is Idaho … and Tod Brown’s long legacy of cover-up while the Bishop of Boise.
Brown knew full well that there was a problem of sex abuse and cover up when he came to Orange. He CONTINUED that problem until California’s 2003 civil window for victims of abuse forced his hand.
It’s about the COVER-UP
Brown just can’t claim ignorance and let things go. He has to make it worse for victims:
“The challenge for me was to come to grips with what it was and what we needed to do to get the healing started and protect our youth in the future,” Brown said. “(Sexual abuse) is a problem that is endemic to humanity. We had it in the Catholic Church, too.”
Ugh. I hate it when people say, “Well, EVERYONE was doing it.” This isn’t smoking pot in the back of your friend’s camper. We are talking about sex crimes against children here. Of course child sexual abuse is a social problem. But the real issue here was the systemic cover-up and protection of predators and abuse.