As a young priest, Eleutorio Ramos once wrote a strong letter to a co-pastor, defending the Latino parishioners at St. Thomas Church in Los Angeles.
"My greatest displeasure is over the way you have been mistreating and hurting so many of our people," Ramos wrote in the 1967 letter. "Some of the Spanish-speaking people at the parish have expressed to me their feeling that you are prejudiced against us Latins."
But that very same spirit of defending Latinos dissolved when it came to his own desires. Instead of protecting the young parishioners, Ramos desecrated their innocence, according to old and recently released personnel files from the archdiocese.
Ramos admitted to police in Orange County that he had molested at least 25 boys over the span of a decade. It was, according to published reports, the largest single admission of child abuse in the history of the Orange County diocese.
One by one, victims came forward as his name was reported in newspapers.
One victim told police he was 11 when Ramos took him to a San Diego motel and allowed three men to tie him up, blindfold him and rape him, according to published reports. Ramos denied those charges.
Ramos was ordained in 1966. In two decades of priesthood, he had been transferred 15 times because of reports of sexual abuse that had escalated in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles transferred him to a church in Placentia, Orange County, in 1975. He lasted only four months. But Ramos continued to be placed in parishes all around the area, including Santa Ana and Anaheim until he was sent to parishes in Tijuana.
Archdiocese files show that from 1983 to 1989, Ramos took one boy to a mountain cabin in San Bernardino County, to a hotel near Disneyland, at a hotel near Universal Studios, and various times to the city of Tijuana.
While some of the complaints against Ramos had been made public in the 1990s — including a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange in 1994 — others came out later after more attention had been given to the issue of priest abuse. Some complaints in the archdiocese personnel files were received in 2003 and 2004, where victims came forward to allege incidents of molestation dating back to the 1970s, after the issue received greater public attention.
One victim said he had been given alcohol and marijuana by Ramos when he was 13 around 1971-72 and that Ramos at various times had groped him and exposed himself and masturbated in front of him. The incidents continue to affect the victim's adult relationships, the victim said.
Ramos was suspended from priestly duties in 1991, but was never charged with a crime because a Supreme Court decision in July invalidated California's statute of limitations on sex crimes, according to published reports.
Ramos died in 2004.