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Mexico City Archbishop Norberto Rivera named in L.A. abuse suit

April 22, 2010 | 12:19 pm

Norberto Rivera An unnamed Mexican man filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles this week against two of the most well-known and influential Catholic cardinals in North America: L.A.'s Roger Mahony and Mexico City's Norberto Rivera Carrera. Using an obscure law that enables foreigners to seek justice in the United States against human rights abuses committed elsewhere, plaintiff "Juan Doe" alleges that Mahony and Rivera ignored claims of sexual abuse against Father Nicolas Aguilar Rivera for more than 20 years.

The cardinals shuffled Aguilar between parishes in Mexico and Southern California while allegations piled up that he had abused dozens of boys, the suit says.

From The Times:

The Mexican-born Aguilar first came to the attention of police in late 1986, after he was beaten by several attackers. Authorities speculated that the attack was in retaliation for his alleged abuse of young boys during overnight stays at the rectory in the Diocese of Tehuacan, Mexico. A month later, then-Bishop Rivera wrote to Mahony to offer Aguilar for placement in a Los Angeles ministry, with a coded reference to the priest being problematic, the lawsuit alleges.

The suit was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act, which was enacted in 1789. Legal experts have cast doubt on the viability of the suit, but the plaintiff's attorney says international law should cover sexual abuse in such claims. Reporter Carol J. Williams offers more details, with video, in this post.

The whereabouts of Aguilar, now defrocked, are unknown. Rivera on Thursday dismissed the suit as the work of "opportunists." Tod M. Tamberg, Mahony's spokesman in L.A., called the allegations "preposterous and without foundation."

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City. Credit: El Universal

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