LOS ANGELES — Cardinal Roger Mahony was deposed Saturday in a lawsuit over a fugitive ex-priest suspected of molesting as many as 26 children in Los Angeles in the 1980s.
Mahony’s closed-door deposition was about Father Nicholas Aguilar Rivera, who fled the country in 1988 as he was being investigated on multiple charges of sexual abuse, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Attorney Anthony De Marco is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on behalf of one of Aguilar Rivera’s alleged victims. The now-defrocked priest is believed to be hiding in Mexico.
De Marco said in an email to the newspaper that the deposition “went well,” but declined to comment further about it due to court orders.
Aguilar Rivera was sent from Mexico to Los Angeles for a temporary assignment in 1987. Less than a year after his arrival, two altar boys accused Aguilar Rivera of molestation, but the priest fled to Mexico just days before U.S. authorities charged him.
Mahony, who retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011, has faced criticism over his handling of sex abuse allegations. Last month, Archbishop Jose Gomez stripped his predecessor of his remaining public duties on behalf of the Archdiocese.
Mahony could not be reached for comment Saturday. On Feb. 20, he wrote an entry on his blog titled “Carrying a Scandal Biblically” that discussed how he has been dealing with “this terrible sinfulness which has overwhelmed all of us in the Church.”
In his 555-word post, he said the disciples of Jesus “are called to carry and live out a terrible scandal day by day” and went on to say that he has accepted “being scapegoated” in the scandal, according to the Daily News.
Mahony was expected to travel soon to Rome, where he will help elect the next pope as a member in good standing of the College of Cardinals.
On Saturday, more than a dozen victims and their family members joined Catholics United and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests to protest Mahony’s involvement in the papal conclave. The group gathered in front of St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood where Mahony is a Cardinal in Residence.
Joelle Casteix, spokeswoman for SNAP, told the Daily News that the inclusion of Mahony in choosing the next pope shows a “complete disrespect to the victims and Catholics.”