Mahony appointed Aguilar associate pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Los Angeles in March 1987, and two months later transferred him to St. Agatha parish. Within nine months of Aguilar's arrival, Los Angeles police had amassed 26 reports of sexual abuse of minors by the priest, who fled to Mexico the night Mahony was informed of the impending charges, says the suit announced by the victim's attorney, Jeffrey R. Anderson of St. Paul, Minn.
Anderson said Aguilar's escape was believed to have been facilitated by church authorities to evade arrest and an ensuing scandal.
Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg called the lawyer's claims "preposterous and without foundation."
"None of the documents concerning Nicolas Aguilar Rivera are new. The media have reported on them extensively in the past decade. They show that Cardinal Mahony urged Aguilar-Rivera’s return to the U.S. to face justice," Tamberg said in a statement. He said that was all the church planned to say on the subject.
The latest in a string of lawsuits brought by alleged victims of Aguilar, the complaint filed by Juan Doe1 contends that the priest raped him repeatedly in 1997, after both cardinals knew he was a sexual predator.
Aguilar was defrocked in July, more than 20 years after the first credible complaints of sexual abuse were brought by authorities in Mexico and Southern California, Anderson noted. He said Aguilar is suspected of abusing as many as 60 boys in Mexico as well as the 26 reported in Los Angeles.
Aguilar remains a fugitive in Mexico and subject to arrest and extradition warrants. If apprehended, he faces criminal charges in his homeland and the civil charges in U.S. court.
-- Carol J. Williams