LAPD detectives who investigate sex-abuse cases are combing through the newly released files of scores of problem priests to determine whether any of the cases can be prosecuted, authorities said Tuesday.

The department's Sexually Exploited Child Unit has joined with prosecutors in poring over some 12,000 pages of documents disclosed under court order by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

"We have copies of the list and we're going through the names, comparing them to cases we have to see if there's anything new or different," said Cmdr. Andrew Smith, the chief spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Smith said detectives are in contact with the District Attorney's Office, which previously said it is reviewing the files of 124 priests identified in litigation as having sexually abused children.

"We work hand in hand with them. We consult with them. Our investigators will be talking to them."

Their task is made more difficult by differing statutes of limitations governing sex crimes.

"It completely depends on the case - the allegation, what was known beforehand," Smith said. "Each single case will have to be determined."

An attorney for the archdiocese could not immediately be reached for comment.

The cases cover decades of abuse within the Los Angeles archdiocese, and reveal details of how Cardinal Roger Mahony and other church leaders transferred problem priests from parish to parish as they maneuvered to protect them from the police.

The files were released as part of a 2007 settlement with more than 500 victims of priest abuse, who shared in a $660 million payout.

Over the last five years, the archdiocese fought to keep secret the names of accused clergy and their supervisors.

An initial court decision to black out the names was overturned by another judge, and the names of the accused priests and many high-ranking church leaders were disclosed in the documents.

However, a victims group has accused the church of withholding relevant documents and the names of other clergy who could be implicated.

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