LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Unified School District Monday was investigating how a former priest, who admitted to a sexual relationship with an underage girl, was employed by the school system.
Joseph Piña, 66, worked for the LAUSD in school development from 2008 until he was laid off in 2012. According to LAUSD officials, Piña continued to work for the district occasionally up until last week.
He was defrocked in 2006 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles after repeated confessions of a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl as well as a series of investigations into sexual misconduct.
The LAUSD was first notified about Piña’s sexual abuse allegations last week when thousands of pages of sex abuse documents were released by the Archdiocese.
Included in the documents was a 127-page report detailing sexual abuse and a possible rape reportedly committed by the former priest.
Piña, who was in his 40s at the time of the allegations, confessed to a church-paid psychiatrist that he had an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl that involved sexual contact.
He said that during the relationship, he didn’t view himself as a priest.
“I would never think it was wrong. I saw her as a woman I was going to marry,” Piña said in a psychological evaluation.
“He remains a serious risk for acting out… His behavior suggests that single Hispanic female mothers and possibly minors are at risk for becoming victimized,” a therapist said.
Piña was never convicted of a crime, so his name did not appear on any sex offender registries when he was hired by the LAUSD.
“I’ve already directed the review of trying to determine when he was hired, what background we used, what previous organizations he worked for like the Archdiocese, what we were told or not told,” LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said.
The Director of Media Relations for the Archdiocese, Tod Tamberg, issued the following statement:
“The Archdiocese received an employment questionnaire from the LAUSD in August 2001 regarding Joseph Pina. In response to the question: ‘Should the Los Angeles Unified School District consider anything else regarding this candidate’s employment suitability?’, the Archdiocese checked the box, ‘yes,’ adding that we would ‘not recommend him for a position in the schools.’ In response to the next question on the form, ‘Would you hire this person again?’, the Archdiocese checked the box ‘no.’
There is no indication in our files of any follow up from LAUSD once the form was returned to the LAUSD.”
Piña’s work for the LAUSD did not involve direct contact with students.