Aguilar Rivera was accused in January 1988 by two families who told church officials that he had fondled their children and, in one instance, climbed into bed with a boy after drinking too much during a Christmas celebration at the family’s home.
The priest was told about the complaints by Curry and fled to Mexico before police were notified. He remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico.
Church files released last year show that Mahony ordered Curry to withhold the altar boy list from the LAPD.
In a Jan. 26, 1988, handwritten note on a memo about the police request for a list, Mahony wrote, “We cannot give such a list for no (sic) cause whatsoever.”
In the deposition, Mahony expanded on his reasoning. Allowing police to question altar boys at the two parishes where Aguilar Rivera worked would have created a “negative effect on a large group of altar servers who know nothing about any of this and that was — not a good idea.”
It “could be very traumatic to those servers to all of a sudden be sitting in front of a policeman being interrogated,” the cardinal said. “And we had no suspicion at that time of any other victims and nobody among the altar servers.”
He denied under questioning from plaintiff attorneys that his motivation in holding back the list was to protect the priest and delay the investigation.
Mahony also defended Curry, the vicar for clergy, for telling Aguilar Rivera that the church would need to contact police and that the accused priest was “in a good deal of danger.”
The complaints came in on a Friday and Curry met with the priest on Saturday morning. Police weren’t notified until Monday and Aguilar Rivera was gone.
Mahony also testified about the case of accused priest Peter Garcia, who already was in treatment for alleged sexual abuse when Mahony took over the archdiocese in 1985.
The following year, Mahony wrote to the director of the New Mexico center where Garcia was receiving treatment and warned that the priest couldn’t return to Los Angeles in the foreseeable future. The two alleged victims had switched attorneys, he wrote, and “I believe that if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here with the Archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors.”
In his deposition, Mahony said that letter was not intended to keep Garcia safe from prosecution.
“Was I interested in having a big civil upset here for the archdiocese? No, I was not. And — but I was not encouraging him to avoid criminal prosecution,” he said.
“You’ve got to realize, you know, they talk about these states lines. State lines mean nothing,” Mahony added. “I mean this is not a big deal. … He’s not in a country that doesn’t have a — what do they call those? — an extradition treaty. He’s a few hours from here.”
Mahony, who turns 78 later this month, has largely retreated from the public eye since traveling to Rome last year for the papal conclave.