Los Angeles News
Accused priest moved to LAUSD school job
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A former Catholic priest has been let go from his job with the Los Angeles Unified School District after his name surfaced on recently released documents of sex abuse within the church.
Joseph Pina, 66, left the church after repeated admissions of a sexual relationship with a minor. According to a report disclosed Sunday, Pina later went to work for LAUSD.
According to records released by the Archdiocese, Pina told a therapist that he was 38 years old when he fell in love with a 13-year-old girl and had a sexual relationship with her. Pina was transferred to other parishes for eight years before he was defrocked.
Church documents show the Archdiocese of Los Angeles knew Pina was working for the district as early as 2009.
According to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, which investigated the abuse allegation, Pina's name was entered in the state's Child Abuse Central Index, but not until the statute of limitations forced them to close the case without charging him. By then LAUSD had already hired him.
Sgt. Dan Scott said Pina was suspected of felony child molestation.
"I wouldn't hire him to be around children," said Scott. "The allegations are strong. Unfortunately this young lady did not get her day in court."
The LAUSD says it found no red flag in Pina's file. But the Archdiocese furnished a copy Monday of paperwork church officials say they returned to LAUSD. The confidential reference form stated that Pina was "not the most stable of individuals. I would not recommend him for a position in the schools."
Monday LAUSD said it could find not the form. They assure parents that Pina's job was in community outreach, working with adults and that he was dismissed over the weekend.
Superintendent John Deasy said Pina did not work with children in his job but was looking into the matter of Pina's hiring.
"I find it troubling," he said of the disclosures about the former clergyman. "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 a day after priests read a letter of apology from Archbishop José Gomez during Sunday services at all L.A. churches.
Gomez expressed his sadness and disappointment about the sex abuse files released last week in his letter.
"These files document abuses that happened decades ago. But that does not make them less serious," Gomez says in the letter. "I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed."
In the letter, the archbishop announced that retired Cardinal Roger Mahony no longer had any administrative or public duties.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
child abuse, sex crimes, lausd, los angeles news, miriam hernandez
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