Sutphin admits he molested children as a priest, but his name doesn't show up in a sex offender database because the charges were dismissed because too much time had elapsed.
"I don't remember the numbers. I won't say I deny it. I do not deny it, no," Sutphin, who has been accused of abuse by 18 people, told The Associated Press. "The church could have acted quicker, I think, and sometimes reports were not made right away. In my case, some of the cases didn't come forward until 15 or 20 years later. ... So the church didn't do anything about it, they couldn't do anything about it."
Sutphin is one of dozens of former and current priests and religious brothers accused of childhood sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who now live unmonitored by civil authorities in communities across the state and nation. For many, the statute of limitations had expired by the time the abuse was reported, making it impossible for prosecutors to land convictions and subject the priests to sex offender databases and monitoring.
Plaintiffs' attorneys have worked with private investigators since October to compile a list of the priests' addresses, the most comprehensive accounting of the whereabouts of the 233 clergy accused of abuse in civil lawsuits in the Los Angeles archdiocese. They hope to use it Thursday to persuade a judge to recommend the release of all church files for every priest or religious brother ever accused of sexual abuse in the sweeping litigation.
Those confidential files are at the center of a heated dispute between the church and plaintiffs' lawyers since the nation's largest archdiocese reached a record-breaking $660 million settlement nearly four years ago. Plaintiffs want the files — which could include internal correspondence, previous complaints and therapy records — released, saying it's a matter of public safety. The church is pushing for a more limited release of information.
The list of addresses, obtained by The Associated Press, contains nearly 50 former priests who live unmonitored in California, and another 15 in cities and towns from Maryland to Texas to Montana. More than 80 more cannot be located despite an exhaustive search by plaintiffs' attorneys. Four are believed to have fled to Mexico or South America. About 80 are dead.
Lead plaintiff lawyer Raymond Boucher says it's the only time anyone has put together a list of priest addresses in any other diocese or archdiocese nationwide. Lawyers hope to eventually make the names and locations of abusive priests available to the public, similar to Megan's Law databases that exist nationwide.
"Many of these priests would be in prison but for the fact that the archdiocese essentially created immunity for them by hiding them and keeping the secrets. It's essential that these documents come out because we know one thing: there is no cure for priests or anybody that sexually abuses a child," said Boucher.
"Many of them are within a mile of multiple schools, day care centers and parks and they are a time bomb waiting to go off. The only way the public can ever protect itself is to have a full, complete knowledge about them."
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