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Monsignor testified before grand jury in L.A. church abuse case

December 23, 2009 |  3:01 pm

The former vicar of clergy for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles testified under a grant of immunity last week before a federal grand jury probing the church’s role in sexual abuse by priests, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Msgr. Richard Loomis, whose responsibilities as a high-ranking aide to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony included overseeing sexual abuse cases against fellow priests, testified last Wednesday under “use immunity,” meaning his testimony cannot be used against him in a criminal prosecution, said the source, who asked not to be named because grand juries are confidential. 

 A “use immunity” agreement would not protect Loomis from being prosecuted based on statements made outside his grand jury testimony.

The source said other members of the church hierarchy “are being called, or in line to come” before the grand jury. “It’s not [Loomis] alone,” the source said.

Archdiocese attorney J. Michael Hennigan said he was not aware of any other grand jury subpoenas of church officials. He said he has been informed that Mahony is not a target of the inquiry. Law enforcement sources have told The Times that the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles had launched a grand jury investigation in connection with Mahony’s response to the molestation of children by priests in the archdiocese.

Loomis testified at a civil deposition earlier this year that Mahony ordered him in 2000 not to contact police about allegations of sexual abuse by a priest. Loomis was testifying under questioning by civil attorney John C. Manly in a case involving the now-defrocked Rev. Michael Baker, who has since been convicted and sentenced to a 10-year prison term for molestation.

Mahony has said Baker’s case “troubles” him the most, and has publicly apologized for having allowed the priest to remain in the ministry. Baker was called to testify before the grand jury this year, The Times has reported. 

Manly also said he was told by Loomis' civil attorney that he had appeared before the grand jury. That attorney declined to comment.

 -- Richard Winton and Victoria Kim