The internal church documents from 1986 and 1987 reveal Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and Monsignor Thomas J. Curry, then the archdiocese's top adviser on sex abuse cases, discussed ways to keep authorities from finding out children were being sexually abused by priests, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret, were filed this month as evidence in a civil court case. They show Curry proposed ways to keep police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials they sexually abused young boys, the Times said. Curry suggested to Mahony the priests be kept from seeing therapists who might tell police and the priests be sent to other states to avoid criminal investigators, the Times said.
For example, Mahony ordered Monsignor Peter Garcia out of California "for the foreseeable future," the documents show.
"I believe that if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors," the archbishop wrote to the director of a New Mexico treatment center for pedophile clergy in July 1986.
When the possibility of Garcia returning to the archdiocese was raised the following year, Curry expressed concern victims in Los Angeles might see him and call police.
"[T]here are numerous -- maybe 20 -- adolescents or young adults that Peter was involved with in a first-degree felony manner," Curry wrote in May 1987. "The possibility of one of these seeing him is simply too great."
Still, Garcia returned to the Los Angeles area that year. He left the priesthood in 1989, the church says, and he died in 2009 without ever being prosecuted.
Mahony, who retired in 2011, has apologized on more than one occasion for the way he handled sex abuse cases involving the clergy.