LA Priest Abuse Settlement and the Public Trust

The $660 million payout to victims of priest sexual abuse in Los Angeles this past week appears at first glance a victory for children’s advocates. However, accountability and public trust have not been served by the settlement. Cardinal Mahony, in avoiding a public trial, never had to disclose his own bad behavior and complicity in the abuse of hundreds of young children. In spite of the fact that priest personnel documents have been ordered to be released as part of the settlement, it will take some time for them to be released and we may never the full extent of the Los Angeles debacle if the church decided to pick and choose which documents are released. In our justice system, accountability and the public trust are two pillars by which large institutions or corporations must answer to the public. If these two pillars are weakened the public suffers as a result.