SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A sexual abuse scandal and cover up that lasted decades is rocking the Catholic Church back East — 300 so-called “predator priests” accused of abusing 1,000 children.
Tonight CBSLA has learned that one of those accused priests was shipped to Southern California.
The church — Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Santa Ana — was one of three in the Southern California area where accused child molester Ernest Paone served.
Paone’s alleged crimes were laid out in the bombshell Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, which was made public this week.
According to the report, church officials in Pennsylvania knew Paone was accused of molesting multiple children. To avoid bad publicity they shipped him out to LA to hide him from authorities and accusers.
Esther Miller, the head of the LA chapter of SNAP, which is the Survivor Network of Those Abused by Priests, says an alleged victim who called her today is an elderly woman.
“She was in Diamond Bar, so without disclosing too many of the details she is in a raw, raw place,” said Miller.
After Paone was banished from Pennsylvania in the mid-60’s the grand jury report says:
“…During the decades between Paone’ s departure from Pennsylvania in 1966 and 1991, Paone served as pastor of a parish in Diamond Bar, California… There is no indication that the Diocese provided any interested parties information that Paone had sexually abused children or that the Diocese had played a role in preventing his prosecution for that conduct…”
At this point it’s not clear how many children Paone may have victimized in the LA area. Advocates say the truth will come out but it may take time.
“That’s a large time span. You can imagine the amount of alleged abuse that occurred,” said Miller. “We do know that it’s a systemic problem. This doesn’t stop even when clergy are aged out — they’re still abusing.”
Paone was never charged with a crime even though at least one prosecutor was on to him in Pennsylvania decades ago. The diocese says he died back in 2002.