At the LA Times, Some Lawsuits Are More Worthy Than Others

Today's Los Angeles Times (Wed. Feb. 11, 2009) features a curious article on page B4, "O.C. priest is focus of suit over alleged molestation," written by the fact-challenged Duke Helfand and staffer Christine Hanley. The article is about a lawsuit filed by a man who claims to have been molested "in 1994-1995" by a priest in Orange County.

Why do I call it "curious"? (Here is an image of the article.) Among the facts in the article:

  • "Details of the alleged molestation were brought to the Police Department's attention last year by lawyers for [Jonathan] Kirrer, now 24 … Kirrer said he was molested by [Fr. Denis] Lyons at least four times in 1994-95 …"
  • Kirrer's lawsuit, scheduled for trial in May, comes four years after the diocese agreed to a $100-million legal settlement with 90 victims of clergy sexual abuse. A portion of that money went to people who said they were molested by Lyons.
  • Lyons was removed from his last post, at a Dana Point parish, in 2002 after the allegations surfaced about the molestation of the teenage boy. In a written statement Tuesday, diocese spokesman Ryan Lilyengren said that Lyons "has not returned to ministry or any official capacity since in the Diocese of Orange."

It is also "curious" that Helfand and Christine Hanley don't tell us who Kirrer's lawyer is. (I'm wondering if the lawyer is O.C.'s John "just give me the money" Manly.)

As we've stated before, no one can challenge the awful harm wrecked upon youth at the hands of Catholic clergy. The harm is real, incredibly sad, and unspeakably damaging. But that is no excuse for the Los Angeles Times' tilted coverage of child abuse.

Does the Times really care about the abuse of children? Or do they only care to report cases in which the word "priest" or "bishop" is in the job title of the accused?