Coverup Probe Launched in LA Archdiocese Abuse Cases

Cardinal may face fraud charges for failing to protect parishioners
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2009 5:07 AM CST
Cardinal Roger Mahony, at the front of the cross, is joined by other members of the clergy in celebrating the Liturgy of the Passion and Death of Christ in Los Angeles.    (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
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(Newser) – Federal authorities are investigating whether top officials of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese conspired to cover up the sexual abuse of minors by priests, sources tell the Los Angeles Times. Cardinal Roger Mahony and other leaders may face fraud charges for failing to keep children safe by improperly dealing with abusive priests, the sources say.

A lawyer for Mahony—who has long been dogged by accusations of covering up for abusive priests—denied his client was the target of the probe, but confirmed that federal authorities have requested information on "a number of individual priests." The "honest services fraud" charges being considered against church officials are usually reserved for corporate wrongdoers, an unusual tactic that may make it tough to get a conviction, said a legal expert.