Los Angeles Archdiocese kept sexual abuse in the shadows » Monsignor Peter E. Garcia
Among the various priests accused over the years of sexual abuse, Monsignor Peter E. Garcia seemed to have a specialty.
Garcia's victims — he confessed at one point to having 20 — were primarily young undocumented immigrants, a quality that made their families less likely to prosecute.
"Although Father Garcia does not perceive himself as coercive in these behaviors it is our understanding that many, if not most, of the minors with whom he was involved were undocumented aliens," wrote a medical director at Saint Luke Institute, a treatment center for priests in Maryland, in 1987.
"They may well have felt threatened by the consequences of their making formal allegations, to one archdiocese or legal complaints against Monsignor Garcia."
According to correspondence in court records, Garcia expressed a keen awareness that his victims were unlikely to seek prosecution, also in part out of respect for the church.
In one letter he wrote seeking permission to return to California from a treatment center in New Mexico, he expressed doubt that the family of one of his victims would ever press charges.
"Also, remember that the family was quite sure that they would never pursue any legal action, since
Manning, however, ordered Garcia to stay out of California, aware that if allowed to return he could face prison time.
"Peter is not permitted to return to California under any circumstances!" an archdiocese official wrote to Garcia, conveying the words of Manning. "He stated this emphatically. If Peter is seen by certain parents he could get 10 years in prison."
Garcia worked at various parishes, from within L.A. to Monterey Park, Glendale to San Gabriel, from 1967 to 1984.
But when complaints surfaced, Garcia was sent for psychiatric evaluation at the request of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, because he had been reported to have had sexual involvement with three boys in a family. During therapy, he admitted that he was involved with boys around the time he was ordained in 1966.
Garcia spent almost two years at a treatment facility in New Mexico, where the archdiocese, according to receipts in court documents, spent more than $3,000 a month on him, hoping he would be cured with art therapy, support groups and Depo Provera. The drug is most commonly used as a contraceptive for women, but has been used on pedophiles because it acts as a chemical form of castration, lowering the sex drive in men.
In 1986, almost two years after he was admitted for treatment to the Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico, Garcia began some ministry work again. According to a psychiatric evaluation, Garcia "seems to be doing very well. He is very happy. He is taking Provera by pill and I do not think that he has gotten himself into any kind of sexual difficulty."
Then Archbishop Roger Mahony expressed gratefulness for all the treatment, but feared criminal charges should Garcia return.
"I feel strongly that it would not be possible for Monsignor Garcia to return to California and to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for the foreseeable future," Mahony wrote "The two young men who were involved with him and their parents have switched attorneys on several occasions, and I believe that if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the Archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors."
But not long after, Mahony and Monsignor Thomas Curry agreed to a plan to allow Garcia back, on a six-month trial basis, working within the archdiocese office if he met several conditions, including staying away from minors, attending support groups, and continuing the Depo Provera.
One month after that decision, however, they changed their minds again, and Garcia was sent to the facility in Maryland. In the evaluation, Garcia confessed to having almost 20 inappropriate encounters with youth.
From 1985 to 1989, Garcia was listed as absent on sick leave, and then left the priesthood. He was never prosecuted and died in 2009, according to published reports.