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03 February 2013

Nicholas Aguilar-Rivera, a Catholic priest, is still hiding in Mexico after first accusation made in 1988 in Los Angeles



He was a monster — and somehow, he was allowed to slip away from Los Angeles back to his native Mexico, not long after the authorities were made aware that the Rev. Nicholas Aguilar-Rivera was a predator.

Aguilar-Rivera in an
undated LAPD photo.
He came to California when he was having “family issues,” and the Archdiocese was all too willing to grant him faculties there. 

And when he got those faculties as a priest, he used them to allegedly abuse about a dozen children — in families that knew him, loved him, cared for him as a priest.

When the first complaint came in, he was simply transferred from that parish to another — where he struck again, and again, and again, and again.

And yet, somehow, inexplicably, the archbishop of Los Angeles at the time, Roger Cardinal Mahony, didn’t demand he turn himself in to the authorities. And because of this, the coward ran home to hide in Mexico — and he’s been doing that — hiding — since around 1988.

The Rev. Thomas Curry, vicar for priests at the time in the archdiocese, immediately upon learning of the accusations, confronted Aguilar-Rivera. He says so, at least, iIn a letter sent to his Mexican bishop.

“I spoke to Father Aguilar-Rivera on Saturday, Jan. 9 (1988), and told him that until a full investigation has taken place, he may not serve in this archdiocese, and that his faculties have been withdrawn,” Curry wrote. “I believe he plans to stay with some family members here and then return to Mexico.”

This letter clearly demonstrates the archdiocese had no plans on ensuring this beast remained here in the United States. The vicar for priests — and thus, the archbishop — were aware a man who faced criminal charges was going to head back to Mexico, where anyone with an iota of common sense would be able to tell you he would hide to avoid and hinder apprehension. 

Curry, in his letter, said he regretted having to inform the Mexican bishop of the charges.

Regretted? Really?

I wonder what he really regretted here. Was it regret a priest was involved in such an atrocity, or was it regret the monster got caught and, as such, would need to be turned over to the authorities?

It gets worse from here

This was the first of many very troubling communications involving Aguilar-Rivera. 

Mahony, in letters and memos, demonstrates a shocking disregard for the victims and ensuring the priest was properly dealt with by police and prosecutors.

His only priority, at first?

Ensuring the victims “got counseling.”

And when the police wanted to talk to “altar boys,” potentially victims, Mahony refused to release their names and contact information to police.

“We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever,” Mahony wrote by hand in response to a memo received Curry that detailed his dealings with detectives and other law-enforcement agents.

Meanwhile, as all of this was happening, parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Los Angeles, and  St. Agatha’s, Los Angeles, where the abuse was alleged to have happened, were wondering where Aguilar-Rivera was and why he was missing.

Mahoney had the pastors read a brief, cold statement.

“I am extremely saddened by the allegations that have been made,” Mahony said. “Our sympathies go out to the families involved, and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will, as always, be available to help families in their time of need.”

Any mention of bringing justice to the families?


Any mention of the abhorrent nature of the priest’s actions? 


It’s as if the crimes were suspect-less. Like the kids deserved what they got.  I understand that’s a harsh thing to say — but that’s how it seems here. 

Nothing more, nothing less.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Los Angeles, one of the place where Aguilar-Rivera
is accused of molesting boys of the parish while a visiting priest.

Meanwhile, Curry kept on suggesting counseling.

“If you have any contact with the families involved, do encourage them to go to counseling, and let them know the archdiocese will support them in this and pay for therapy,” Curry wrote to the pastors. 

It’s as if he believed that if the kids and their families would just go to counseling, this would all disappear. Life would return to normal.

And heck, Mahony’s going to pay for it all! How noble!

While Mahony was cooperative with police and with the priest’s presiding bishop in Mexico, it was clear he didn’t want this to be happening. He did, however, cancel some trips so as to be available for meetings with police, as needed.

Meanwhile, as months passed, Aguilar-Rivera was nowhere to be found — and when someone contacted him in Mexico to tell him police were searching for him, he flippantly responded to the call.

“For what?” he asked.

He truly tried to pretend he’d no idea why cops sought him.

Fast-forward to 2004.

Mahony gets word Aguilar-Rivera is improperly serving as a priest in Mexico and he writes a letter to the bishop there to inform him of the possibility a fugitive from justice could be serving the people of a parish in Santa Cruz, Mexico.

In the letter, Mahony strongly suggests Aguilar-Rivera be sent back to California to face the charges if he’s found.

He never was.

He still faces 19 felony charges of committing a lewd act with a child. In fact, charges were also filed in Mexico.

He’s still on the run.

And Mahony, somehow, is not behind bars.

Below: Some of the documents released in the Aguilar-Rivera case. Click to enlarge them. CLICK HERE to read all the Aguilar-Rivera documents (Adobe Reader or Preview for Mac required).

Mahoney's hand-written response for information on altar boys.

A message to parishioners from Mahoney

A published story on Aguilar-Rivera from the LA Times.


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