CRIME

Joseph Pina, Priest Accused Of Molesting Parishioners, Was Hired By LA School District (UPDATE, VIDEO)

02/04/2013 02:03 pm ET | Updated Feb 04, 2013

A retired Los Angeles priest who admitted to having sexual relations with a girl in his parish went on to be hired by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

A recently-released 1993 psychological evaluation of Joseph Pina, now 66, includes the priest's description of being attracted to an eighth-grade girl when he saw her in a costume.

"She dressed as Snow White. ... I had a crush on Snow White, so I started to open myself up to her," he told the psychologist, the Los Angeles Times reports. "I felt like I fell in love with her. I got sexually involved with her, but never intercourse. She was about 17 when we got involved sexually, and it continued until she was about 19."

The psychologist's evaluation recommended authorities "take appropriate measures and precautions to insure that [Pina] is not in a setting where he can victimize others." Yet Pina continued to work as a priest until at least March 1998, KCET reports.

After he retired as a priest, Pina was hired by LAUSD to be involved in community outreach and building support for school projects, FOX reports. He was laid off from the job last year but returned to occassionally help organize events, including a ribbon-cutting event Saturday in the City of Bell.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said the district is looking into the matter of Pina's hiring. "I find it troubling," he said of the allegations, ABC reports. "And I also want to understand what knowledge that we had of any background problems when hiring him, and I don't yet know that."

The news comes as priests at the Archdiocese's 288 parish churches read a letter of apology from the new Archbishop, Jose Gomez, Patch reports. Gomez's message said he found the records of 122 complaints of sexually-abusive priests to be "terribly sad and evil."

Gomez stripped former Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of the archdiocese in 2011, of his administrative duties because Mahony repeatedly signed off on counseling for his abusive priests, rather than prosecution, according to the released files.

In a letter posted on his personal blog, Mahony challenged Gomez for publicly shaming him. Gomez was well aware when he took over in 2011 of the steps Mahony had taken to develop better clergy sex abuse policies and never questioned his leadership until Thursday, Mahony wrote.

The letters were described as an unprecedented public dispute in the highest ranks of Catholic Church leaders.

The files released Thursday were part of a record-breaking $660 million settlement with more than 500 victims of sex abuse; lawyers for the archdiocese and individual priests had waged a five-year battle to keep them sealed.

Studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops found more than 4,000 U.S. priests have faced sexual abuse allegations since the early 1950s, in cases involving more than 10,000 children –- mostly boys.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Archdiocese claims that they warned the Los Angeles Unified School district against hiring Joseph Pina.

According to KCET, a church official filled out a previous-employer questionnaire about Pina, recommending that he not be hired for any positions in schools. The church also indicated that they would not hire Pina again.

However, the church official seemed to stop short of explaining exactly why Pina was not suited for work with schools.

To see LAUSD's response to the church's claim, check out KCET.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Priests And Sexual Abuse
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS