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Disgraced: Former L.A. Catholic Priest Involved in Sexual Misconduct Went to Work at LAUSD

BURBANK, CA -- February 2, 2013--KCETLink's award winninghard-hitting award-winning nightly new program SoCal Connected revealstonight that Joseph D. Pina, who was a Catholic priest for 26 years in SouthernCalifornia until he left the church after repeated admissions of a sexual
relationship with a minor, later went to work at Los Angeles Unified School District
(LAUSD).
According to recently
released church documents, The Los Angeles Archdiocese was aware as early as
2009 that Pina was working for LAUSD, despite his extensive record of
sexual misconduct as a Catholic Priest. It's unclear if church leaders informed
the district of Pina's past.

Pina, whose last assignment was at St. Emydius Church inLynnwood, resigned from the priesthood in March 1998.  A review of the
LAUSD website shows Pina has worked as a community organizer for the school
district as early as February 2002. 

In an email to SoCal Connected LAUSD Director of

Communications, Thomas Waldman, confirms former priest Joseph Pina is "the

same Joseph Pina" who has been working at the district. Waldman did not have

employment dates or Pina's current employment status. As a community organizer

at LAUSD he organized and attended dozens of community outreach events

through the city.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, for a new

occupational center in Bell, an event Pina reportedly organized for the

district, a man told SoCal Connected that he worked with Pina who served

"as community rep for this project." When asked if he was aware Pina was a former priest involved in a sexual

misconduct case with a minor, the man, who declined to give his name, said he

didn't know the personal life of Joe 'at all.' Afterwards he shrugged his

shoulder and said he had no further comment.

Tiffany Mansour, who was helping community

organizers at the Bell event, reviewed a  website photo SoCal Connected

show her and recognized Pina as an LAUSD employee who has worked with her

mother for a number of years.  She recalled  Pina used to be a priest, but was "shocked" to learn that he has been

involved in a sexual abuse case.

It is not known whether LAUSD knew anything of Pina's

background when he was hired.  In Waldman's email to SoCal Connected

he said he "has no information of any conversation between the Church and LAUSD

regarding Mr. Pina's past in the priesthood."

Calls to the Church's public information officer were not

returned at press time." SoCal Connected also made numerous attempts to

locate Pina, but neighbors told us he didn't come home Friday night, and they

had not seen him.

The once-confidential church documents reveal Pina sought

treatment on several occasions for sexual misconduct.   An Oct. 8,

1993, psychological evaluation written to Monsignor Timothy Dyer said Pina

"remains a serious risk for acting out."  The document goes on to say, "Over the years he's

perfected his method, and his behavior suggests that single Hispanic female

mothers and possibly minors are at risk for becoming victimized." The

evaluation's author concludes with a recommendation, "I would advise the

Archdiocese to take appropriate measures and precautions to insure that he is

not in a setting where he can victimize others." The archdiocese sent him

to at least two in house treatment centers and a halfway house for sexual

offenders, but

also returned him to several parishes, until he resigned

in 1998.

The documents reveal the church stood behind Pina and

offered words of support and comfort. Support also came from the man at the

very top: then Archdiocese Roger Mahoney. "Dear Joe," wrote Mahoney in June

1990. "I just want to renew in writing my esteem, affection and prayers for you during these days

of some trial." Mahoney ends the letter writing, "you continue to have my

prayers, my support and my friendship." The Pina files raise serious questions

about the extent of the church's systematic cover-up, and whether any steps were taken  to

inform LAUSD of the former priest's troubled background while he was working

for the nation's second largest school district.

In his resignation letter to the parishioners of St.

Emydius dated March 14, 1998, he wrote "the time has come for me to seek more

serious help for my personal issues. For some time now I thought that I was

working on my recovery issues diligently and honestly. However, I was not."

ABOUT SOCAL CONNECTED

SoCal Connected,

winner of a Peabody and two duPont Awards, 17 Emmy® Awards, 19 Golden Mikes, 41

LA Press Club Awards, two Gracie Awards, and three regional Edward R. Murrow

Awards, including Best News Documentary and Los Angeles Magazine's "Best

New Local TV Program" of 2009, airs nightly at 5:30 p.m. with encores at

10:00 p.m. exclusively on KCET. For more information, to view episodes online

or to leave comments, please visit www.socalconnected.org.

SoCal Connected is

made possible through the generous support of The Ahmanson Foundation serving

the Los Angeles community since 1952; Jim and Anne Rothenberg; the Maddocks

Brown Foundation; The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation; and The

California Endowment.  

Link to story on SoCal Connected.org:

http://www.kcet.org/shows/socal_connected/rawfeed/religion/disgraced-former-catholic-priest-involved-in-sexual-misconduct-went-ot-work-at-lausd.html

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