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Los Angeles cardinal accused of sexual abuse

Cardinal Roger Mahony, the head of the US's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, in Los Angeles, says he has been accused of molesting a female student in 1970.

He denies the woman's allegations, made last month to Fresno church officials, and said he has called for both church and law enforcement officials to investigate.

Cardinal Mahony is believed to be the highest-ranking sitting church official to be accused of sexual misconduct in the scandal that has engulfed dioceses across the country in the past few months.

"Such false allegations are hurtful and troubling to me, yet I continue to pray fervently for those who make them," he said, who has been cardinal since 1991 in the diocese that includes five million Catholics.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the 51 year old woman who made the allegations has a history of mental illness, having been diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early 1970s. Admitting the claim is short on details and far-fetched, she said she is motivated to press forward with her allegations, in part, because the state is cutting her disability payments and she needs a cash settlement from the church.

She also said that nearly everyone she has encountered in her life--from her parents and other family members to her high school classmates to her former co-workers--have either molested, abused or emotionally mistreated her.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Ananova/Los Angeles Times

8 Apr 2002