Mexico is haven for U.S. pedophile priests: group
Wed Sep 20, 5:52 PM ET
Weak law enforcement and compliant Church authorities make Mexico a haven for U.S. pedophile priests fleeing justice, a victims' group said on Wednesday.
The Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, which helped bring a lawsuit this week against two of North America's top cardinals, said it knows of 46 mostly U.S. priests hiding out south of the border.
"Mexico has really become a secure place because here judicial authorities don't track them down and nothing happens," said group spokesman Eric Barragan.
The U.S. Catholic Church has been tarnished by a pedophile priest scandal that erupted in Boston in 2002 and spread to almost every diocese in the nation.
Several U.S. Catholic priests have been prosecuted, multimillion dollar payouts have been made to scores of pedophile victims and church files revealed that some bishops repeatedly transferred priests accused of abusing minors to other parishes rather than reporting them to police.
Barragan said Mexican pedophile priests, to a lesser degree, often flee to the United States.
His U.S.-based group helped filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Tuesday that accused Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Mexico City's Cardinal Norberto Rivera of allowing a priest wanted for multiple sex abuse to flee California for Mexico.
Rivera is Mexico's most senior Catholic clergyman and was mentioned as an outsider candidate last year to succeed Pope John Paul II.
The suit was brought by Mexican former altar boy Joaquin Aguilar, 25, who says he was raped by Catholic priest Nicolas Aguilar in Mexico in 1994.
It claims that Mahony facilitated Father Aguilar's flight to Mexico in 1988, when a U.S. warrant was issued for his arrest, without notifying law enforcement in Los Angeles.
Prosecutors were investigating allegations that he had abused more than 20 boys in the Los Angeles archdiocese.
Mahony's spokesman, Tod Tamberg, said the conspiracy charge was "preposterous and without foundation" and the Mexico City archdiocese said Rivera "feels at ease because there was no cover up."
SNAP said it had hired private investigators who tracked down Aguilar to rural southern Mexico where he has been saying Mass at a convent and three different parishes and living out of his car with no fixed address.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006
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