The letter from the bishop in Mexico was friendly, offering warmest greetings and asking a favor from then-Archbishop Roger Mahony.
Could Mahony find a place for Father Nicholas Aguilar Rivera, who wanted to come to Los Angeles for a year "due to health and family reasons."
"If His Excellency were to accept him, don't have any concerns in granting your permission," Tehuacán Bishop Norberto Rivera Carrera wrote in January 1987.
But the bishop apparently had second thoughts about his initial endorsement, writing Mahony again in late March to explain that Aguilar Rivera had wanted to leave the Tehuacán Diocese after being badly beaten because of "problems of homosexuality."
Mahony later claimed that he'd never received that letter, so had no qualms about appointing Aguilar Rivera to serve at Our Lady of Guadalupe on March 16, 1987.
What transpired in the predominantly Latino congregation in East L.A., and at nearby St. Agatha's Church, is at the heart of a suit that led to the release last week of thousands of pages of personnel documents.
A 35-year-old man who says he was molested by the priest as a youth claims church leaders knew Aguilar Rivera was a pedophile when they assigned him to the two local parishes and that they knowingly concealed his misdeeds.
He has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles archdiocese and the Tehuacán Diocese, claiming that church leaders had used "coded language ... to facilitate the international transfer of child molesting priests."
The man's attorney, Anthony De Marco, obtained personnel files for 14 other priests from the archdiocese, then attached them to a motion in the suit in an effort to demonstrate a concerted cover-up by Mahony and his top aides.
The plaintiff said he was one of the young boys Aguilar Rivera befriended when he began serving at Our Lady of Guadalupe. According to the documents, the priest roughhoused with the youngsters on the playground, invited them to the rectory, took them on field trips and visited their homes.
Within weeks, one of the youngsters complained about the priest, and church leaders transferred him in in May to St. Agatha's parish. He continued to visit families from OLG while developing new friendships with St. Agatha kids.
In a deposition included in the records, an OLG parishioner said she invited "Father Nicholas" to Christmas dinner in 1987. The priest shared a bottle of wine with her husband, then spent the night in their home, sleeping in a bedroom with three of their five sons.
The woman said she could hear noises coming from the bedroom during the night, but found nothing amiss when she checked on her boys. The next morning, however, the priest left abruptly, almost running from the house.
And when her sons came down for breakfast, they told her, "Mom, the father is not the guy he's supposed to be. He's a mean guy ... because he did something wrong to us."
"That day was the worse day of my life," the woman said in the deposition. "I never think that one of the mens ... that preach the word of God and say we need to love each other with the love of God, that he did that to my sons."
According to court documents, on Jan. 8, 1988, several parents went to OLG Pastor Bill McLean, and told him Aguilar Rivera had molested their sons.
In his deposition, McLean said he immediately alerted Vicar of Clergy Thomas Curry, who ordered him to keep the complaints confidential.
The next day, Curry went to St. Agatha's and confronted Aguilar Rivera, who denied the allegations.
"I told Father he would have to leave and that the Archdiocese would pay for him to stay at a retreat house," Curry wrote later. "I told him that it was likely the accusations would be reported to the police and that he was in a good deal of danger."
By the time the OLG school principal called police on Jan. 11, Aguilar Rivera had fled back to Mexico and disappeared.
The documents show how Mahony and Curry scrambled to contain any scandal, fighting efforts by police to question altar boys at St. Agatha's in a search for potential victims.
"The whole issue of our records is a sensitive one, and I am reluctant to give any list to the police," Curry wrote in a memo to Mahony.
In a note at the bottom, the cardinal wrote, "We can't give such a list for no cause whatsoever."
Files show Aguilar Rivera was appointed the vicar of a church in Mexico but was later defrocked over sex abuse accusations, according to a story from the California Catholic Daily.
According to a 2004 report by the archdiocese, Aguilar Rivera was accused of molesting 13 youngsters in L.A.
Staff Writer Brenda Gazzar contributed to this report