Police drop sex probe of LA cardinal

April 11, 2002 at 9:16 PM
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FRESNO, Calif., April 11 (UPI) -- Fresno police have found no evidence to back the claims of a mentally disabled woman who said she believed she had been sexually molested by now-Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1970.

Flora Mae Hickman, 51, came to Roman Catholic Church officials in Fresno March 20 with allegations that Mahony, now the leader of the Los Angeles archdiocese, had likely molested her after she had been knocked cold in a fight at the Catholic high school she attended in 1970.

Police Lt. Dwayne Johnson said Thursday that investigators looked into the woman's claim and found no evidence to substantiate the charges.

"Our position isn't to question whether or not someone is telling the truth," Johnson said. "Our course is are there any facts that can substantiate this, and we don't have any."

Hickman had said that the incident had been "eating her up" for years before she decided to come forward. She conceded Thursday that too much time had passed for the alleged incident to be confirmed.

"If I had come through and said something a long time ago, maybe I could have gotten something done," Hickman told the Fresno Bee. "I didn't make it up. I'm just telling it as it was."

Hickman, who was 18 in 1970, said she regained consciousness after a brawl at San Joaquin Memorial Catholic High School and saw Mahony, who was then a monsignor in the Fresno diocese, standing over her. She said she noticed that her undergarments were missing and did not see anyone else around who could have removed them.

Mahony denied even knowing Hickman, and her credibility appeared to suffer when it was revealed that she was a diagnosed schizophrenic who was on anti-depressants. A former co-worker told reporters that Hickman had been prone to make claims of being emotionally and physically abused by others.

Mahony had no immediate comment, but a spokesman for the Fresno diocese said the outcome was a relief.

"We're happy it was resolved this way," said diocese spokesman Bill Lucido. "We've asked everybody to pray for both sides."

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