LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A former priest who was a suspected child molester has been dismissed from his new job at the Los Angeles Unified School District, it was reported Sunday.
The Los Angeles Times said the defrocked priest, Joseph Pina, had worked as late as Saturday as an daily-hire event organizer for the facilities division of the LAUSD.
Pina, 66, reportedly organized the ribbon-cutting for a new LAUSD education center in Bell on Saturday, just two days after his name surfaced in the files of 122 church priests who may have had sexually abused children over past decades.
Pina had retired from a full-time job last year but was working as a temporary hire, the newspaper reported on its web site.
Superintendent John Deasy said he will investigate how Pina was hired as a staff worker after being fired by the Catholic Church’s Los Angeles Archdiocese, the newspaper reported.
“I find it (the hiring) troubling,” Pina told The Times today. “And I also want to understand what knowledge that we had of any background problems when hiring him, and I don’t know that yet.”
One item of criticism directed at the church was that its refusal to prosecute sexual predators allowed the men to get jobs at other institutions. But today’s report gave no indication that Pina had worked with any children in his LAUSD administrative job.
The news came as priests at the Archdiocese’s 288 parish churches read a letter of apology from the new Archbishop, Jose Gomez.
The archbishop’s message said he found the records of 122 complaints of sexually-abusive priests to be “brutal and painful reading.” “The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil,” the archbishop’s letter, released Thursday, said.
One priest, Monsignor Robert J. Gallagher, told his flock today that “we have been reminded about sin in our church,” The Times reported. “The important thing is for us to remember that there are victims in this.”
Former cardinal Roger Mahony, a member of that North Hollywood parish, was not at the early-morning service. Mahony was publicly rebuked Thursday by Gomez, who replaced Mahony at the head of the church in 2011.
Mahony fired back with a letter to Gomez that said the archdiocese that Gomez inherited from Mahony was aggressively combating sexual offenses within its ranks.
The letters were described as an unprecedented public dispute in the highest ranks of Catholic Church leaders.