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Mahony to be questioned about abuse before voting on new pope

Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony prays during a Mass for Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in 2005.Before Cardinal Roger M. Mahony boards a plane for Rome to help elect the next pope, he will be questioned under oath about his handling of clergy sex abuse cases.

A judge cleared the way Friday for a Feb. 23 deposition of the former archbishop of Los Angeles by a lawyer for a man who claims that a visiting Mexican priest molested him three decades ago at his Montecito Heights parish.

FULL COVERAGE: Priest abuse scandal

In a closed-door meeting, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias said Mahony could be questioned for four hours about the priest, Father Nicholas Aguilar Rivera, and 25 other clergymen accused of abuse during the same time period, according to lawyers at the meeting.

Mahony has been deposed repeatedly since the late 1990s about his dealings with accused abusers, but the upcoming deposition will be the first since the release of 12,000 pages of internal church records about the abuse.

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The alleged victim’s lawyer, Anthony De Marco, said he has 138 pages of archdiocese memos and records about Aguilar Rivera that were not available when Mahony was last deposed. “It’s a vastly different examination when you have their contemporaneous notes,” he said.

The files released show Aguilar Rivera returned to Mexico in 1988 shortly after a top Mahony aide, Thomas J. Curry, warned him that a police investigation was likely and he was in “a good deal of danger.” Authorities believe Aguilar Rivera molested at least 26 children during a nine-month stay in the archdiocese. He remains a fugitive in Mexico.

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-- Harriet Ryan

Photo: Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony prays during a Mass for Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in 2005. Credit: Pier Paolo Cito / Associated Press

 
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