By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — In therapy sessions, the priest confessed the shocking details he'd kept hidden for years: He had molested more than 100 boys, including his 5-year-old brother. He had sex with male prostitutes, and frequented gay strip clubs.
The admissions of the Rev. Ruben Martinez are included among nearly 2,000 pages of secret files unsealed Wednesday that were kept on priests, brothers and nuns who belonged to religious orders but were accused of child molestation while working within the Los Angeles archdiocese.
The papers, which were released under the terms of a $660 million settlement agreement reached in 2007, are the first glimpse at what religious orders knew about the men and women they posted in Roman Catholic schools and parishes in the Los Angeles area. The archdiocese itself released thousands of pages under court order this year for its own priests who were accused of sexual abuse, but the full picture of the problem remained elusive without the orders' records. Several dozen more files are expected to be released by the fall.
The documents cover five different religious orders that employed 10 priests or religious brothers and two nuns who were all accused in civil lawsuits of molesting children. Among them, the accused had 21 alleged victims between the 1950s and the 1980s.
Some of the files released Wednesday, including those of the nuns, don't mention sexual abuse at all, and others appear to have large gaps in time and missing documents. The release included documents from the Oblates, the Marianists, the Benedictines and two orders for religious sisters.
That the files don't reflect some of the alleged abuse doesn't mean it didn't happen, said Ray Boucher, lead attorney for some abuse victims. "Much of this went unreported. You're talking about kids that were terrorized and frightened in so many different ways, with no place and no one to turn to."
At more than 500 pages, Martinez's file is among the most complete, and it paints a devastating picture of a troubled and repressed child who later joined the priesthood to satisfy a domineering and devout father.
The Los Angeles archdiocese settled eight lawsuits over Martinez's actions in 2007, but had little documentation on him in its own files even though the priest worked in its parishes for years in the 1970s and 1980s.
However, his order file includes graphic details described in therapy notes and psychiatric evaluations. It also reveals the years of effort — and tens of thousands of dollars — the Oblates spent trying to cure him of his self-admitted pedophilia as it shuttled him between programs, including inpatient treatment.
In 1965, Martinez took his final vows for a religious order called the U.S. Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a nearly 200-year-old Catholic organization with roots in France. In 1969, he was ordained as a priest and assigned by his order to a small parish in Brawley, Calif.
In a 1993 psychiatric report — one of several such evaluations done between 1991 and 2005 by various treatment programs — the priest admitted to molesting children beginning in 1970, when he began playing "giddy up" games with young boys on his lap. In the documents, Martinez says he stopped "direct sexual contact" with boys after a mother complained to a pastor in 1982 and that he stopped touching boys altogether after another complaint in 1986.
It's unclear whether his religious order or the archdiocese was aware of those complaints, but around the same time as the first complaint, Martinez began weekly therapy sessions. He entered a counseling program for people with sexual compulsions after the second complaint in 1986.
In 1991, he received five months of inpatient psychological treatment from a center in Jemez Springs, New Mexico that specialized in treating troubled priests.
Upon his release, Martinez was assigned to a tiny parish in the remote town of Westmorland, Calif., in the far southeastern corner of the state. While there, he would drive miles to San Diego to pick up male prostitutes, according to his file.
He was removed from parish ministry in 1993, enrolled in a sex offender program and sent to live and work at the order's California headquarters in Oakland after another complaint surfaced from his past. For the rest of his career, he filled administrative roles.