Father knows molest

Be careful with that new padre of yours, Sacramento

Jaime Soto, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento’s newest bishop, defends the sex-abuse response of his former see, the Diocese of Orange County.

Jaime Soto, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento’s newest bishop, defends the sex-abuse response of his former see, the Diocese of Orange County.


I always tried really hard to like Jaime Soto, the longtime Catholic Diocese of Orange County auxiliary bishop who’s now the co-adjutor bishop in the Diocese of Sacramento (in layman’s term, he’ll be boss once current bishop William K. Weigand leaves). Soto is a virtual Aztlanista on immigration, urges compassion for AIDS victims and always sports a smile. But our admiration for His Excellency goes the way of church attendance every time we remember Soto’s involvement in the rapes of innocents.

For the past four years, I’ve been covering the Orange diocese sex-abuse scandal for the OC Weekly, Orange County’s alternative newsweekly. My stories have shown that church officials knew and protected pedophile priests for decades. Church documents show they shielded child rapists from the law, lied to molestation victims and—worst of all—shuffled rapists from parish to parish. The Orange diocese settled 90 sex-abuse cases for a then-record $100 million in 2005, and recently settled four more for $6.85 million earlier this fall. And on December 3, Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown will face an Orange County Superior Court judge over a contempt of court charge alleging Brown shipped a priest off to Canada so the priest wouldn’t finish a damning deposition.

Soto’s role, compared to other bishops and Catholic officials in Orange, seems small. In 1986, he wrote a letter in support of Andrew Christian Anderson, one of only two Orange County Catholic priests ever convicted of sex-abuse crimes. Soto was also the poor sap in charge of trying to fish back Eleuterio Ramos from Tijuana after a Ramos victim filed a lawsuit against the Orange diocese’s most prolific pedophile (Ramos liked to see his victims—all pubescent boys—gang-raped). Of course, there’s always the sin of silence, but we’ll put that aside for the meanwhile.

Actually, let’s bring it back. Soto is someone so suffocated in the Catholic bubble he can’t see the hell it’s become for sex-abuse victims and Catholics with any sense of morality. A couple weeks ago, Soto appeared on Inside OC with Rick Reiff, a public-affairs show on Orange County’s PBS affiliate, KOCE-TV Channel 50. When host Reiff, a veteran Orange County journalist, broached the unavoidable sex-abuse subject, Soto noticeably became nervous. “It was a difficult, difficult chapter in the church,” His Excellency stated. “Mistakes were made that hurt young people.”

No shit, padre.

Soto continued. “We’ve tried our best to turn a page over and make sure that never happens again. It’s been a very sad chapter in our history but one where we’ve learned from.” Uh, not really—to this day, church lawyers paint female sex-abuse victims as little more than sluts, telling local newspapers that these girls chose “to enter into a relationship.”

Reiff then asked Soto if the Orange diocese had handled the sex-abuse scandal badly. “We’ve been very proactive on this from the beginning,” Soto responded. “We learned as we went along on this.”

Quoth The Simpsons’ Moe Szyslak: “WHAA???”

From the 1976 creation of the Orange diocese until just last month, officials have coddled pedophiles. Don’t believe me? Just visit Bishop-Accountability.org and read the reams of documents, depositions and lawsuits that constitute the biggest paper trail of guilt since Dick Nixon left the White House. The only thing the Orange diocese learned over the years is how to spin—and, judging by Soto’s interview, they’ve done a terrible job at it.

The most hilarious part of Reiff’s interview with Soto, however, was when the host asked whether the Orange diocese would continue to disclose its role in the rape of innocents. “That is going to be an ongoing issue,” Soto said, adding that the Orange diocese was “one of the most transparent organizations with regards to this issue,” one that always “was upfront and put the cards on the table.”

At that point, my computer screen shattered—it can only spin so much. You can see the video for yourself on my blog post.

Warning: not recommended for folks with vertigo or disgust with spinners of false tales.