In 1994, Paul and Sue Griffith, the parents of a child abused by Fr. Ted Llanos, “took the story (of abuse) to a Los Angeles Times reporter, who declined to write about it,” reports Ron Russell.
Russell, a reporter for the New Times, a Los Angeles alternative weekly newspaper, does not reveal the name of the Los Angeles Times reporter. Was it Larry Stammer? I wondered. Stammer is the Times reporter in Cardinal Roger Mahony’s pocket. In a leaked e-mail, Mahony wrote that Stammer “stands ready to help if we have a story we want to get out,” and is planning to do “helpful” stories on the “seminaries.”
Stammer is also useful in not getting stories out. After reading Russell’s piece, I called up the Griffiths to find out if Stammer was the reporter who ignored their son’s story in 1994. “Larry Stammer was certainly the reporter we went to,” Sue Griffith replied. “The Los Angeles Times wouldn’t touch the story at that time.”
After the Times ignored them, the Griffiths “turned to the Long Beach Press-Telegram,” reports Russell. The smaller newspaper reported the story, writes Russell and within “weeks, more than two dozen men came forward to say that Llanos had also abused them as teenagers.”
So much for the Los Angeles Times‘s mission to comfort the afflicted. Mahony’s scandalous tenure is a subject of scant interest to the Times, presumably because the paper supports his political liberalism and his agenda to water down Catholicism.
With Larry Stammer still on the Mahony beat — his editors don’t appear to mind that the cardinal’s e-mails expose him as a lapdog — the Los Angeles Times‘s coverage of the Church scandal remains embarrassingly thin. But not everyone at the Times is pleased with the paper’s soft treatment of Mahony, whose appalling pattern of protecting molesters is now beyond question.
“Our coverage has been reprehensible!” an L.A. Times editor confided to New Times columnist Rick Barrs. “You can tell that the powers-that-be here want to protect Mahony by the third-string reporters who are assigned to the story. Come on, the most incriminating stories have been played down, or written in such a way as to practically exonerate the cardinal. I’m a Catholic, and it’s sickening the way Mahony’s been summoning Larry Stammer over to be his bend-over boy, how the paper’s been playing Stammer’s pieces as if they were out of the mouth of God. Even a f—ing racketeering suit against the church can’t make Page One.”
Nor did the Los Angeles Times find fit to report on the front page that a priest-molester — a fact known to Cardinal Mahony for at least a decade — had recently lived at the cardinal’s cathedral-complex apartments and served as the cardinal’s associate pastor! This bombshell was buried in the paper’s California section, which many Angelenos don’t even bother to read. “If Woodward and Bernstein were dead already, they’d be turning over in their graves,” Barrs sardonically comments.
Even Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, who had pounded Mahony early on, fell silent for much of April. Had he been told to knock his anti-Mahony opining off? No, he was on vacation, leaving Stammer behind to supply thumbsucking pro-Mahony “news analysis” on the scandal.
The New Times‘s Ron Russell hasn’t taken a vacation during the biggest story of the year. He’s put his Los Angeles Times counterparts to shame, exhuming, for example, the Stockton case in which jurors awarded two victims $24 million (later scaled down) after they concluded Mahony lied on the stand. This matter didn’t much interest the Los Angeles Times, which instead has been rolling out articles about how the “Los Angeles Diocese’s media-savvy cardinal is getting high marks for confronting abuse and presenting himself as a reformer.”
Sue Griffith is not impressed. While her son’s case is no longer met with indifference at the Los Angeles Times, the paper, she believes, still cuts Mahony a great deal of slack.
“Now of course they are much more interested,” she told TAP. “But they are not aggressive, of course. It is almost like they get the message from somebody on high that it is time to softpedal the story, or else Larry Stammer comes in with a nice positive article about something.”
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