Abusive priests live unmonitored By GILLIAN FLACCUS and JOHN MONE – ASSOCIATED PRESS March 7, 2011
VENTURA — Carl Sutphin was a problem priest who left ministry in the Roman Catholic church just before being charged nearly a decade ago with 14 counts of molestation for sexually abusing six children.
He was never convicted of the charges, and he now lives in a doublewide mobile home in a quiet neighborhood within two miles of a youth sports complex, a library, two day care centers and at least two elementary schools. Sutphin admits he molested children as a priest, but his name doesn’t show up in a sex offender database because the charges were dismissed because too much time had elapsed….
Plaintiffs’ attorneys have worked with private investigators since October to compile a list of the priests’ addresses, the most comprehensive accounting of the whereabouts of the 233 clergy accused of abuse in civil lawsuits in the Los Angeles archdiocese. They hope to use it Thursday to persuade a judge to recommend the release of all church files for every priest or religious brother ever accused of sexual abuse in the sweeping litigation.
Those confidential files are at the center of a heated dispute between the church and plaintiffs’ lawyers since the nation’s largest archdiocese reached a record-breaking $660 million settlement nearly four years ago. Plaintiffs want the files — which could include internal correspondence, previous complaints and therapy records — released, saying it’s a matter of public safety. The church is pushing for a more limited release of information.
The list of addresses, obtained by The Associated Press, contains nearly 50 former priests who live unmonitored in California, and another 15 in cities and towns from Maryland to Texas to Montana. More than 80 more cannot be located despite an exhaustive search by plaintiffs’ attorneys. Four are believed to have fled to Mexico or South America. About 80 are dead.
Lead plaintiff lawyer Raymond Boucher says it’s the only time anyone has put together a list of priest addresses in any other diocese or archdiocese nationwide. Lawyers hope to eventually make the names and locations of abusive priests available to the public, similar to Megan’s Law databases that exist nationwide….
The church is willing to release a significant number of documents from priest files and has already made public the names of priests who were credibly accused or whose names were listed in civil lawsuits, Hennigan said. The archdiocese believes, however, that many of the priests whose addresses appear on the list were wrongfully accused. The archdiocese included those clergy in the $660 million payout without admitting wrongdoing, simply to settle the claims, Hennigan said.