Vatican abuse investigator William Levada ‘failed’ to take action in California case

Richard Owen; 30/4/10

The Pope’s chosen replacement to investigate sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church has been accused of failing to take action against a Californian priest after learning that he had allegedly molested an altar boy 11 years earlier.  Cardinal William Levada, who at the time the alleged offence came to light in 1995 was Archbishop of San Francisco, said in testimony five years ago that he had not contacted police about Father Milton Walsh because he believed that his predecessor had dealt with the case adequately. He also said he had trusted that Father Walsh would not reoffend. Jeffrey Lena, the lawyer acting for the Vatican in US abuse cases, said that Cardinal Levada acted appropriately according to the standards of the time. There was no evidence that Father Walsh had gone on to commit any further sexual offences. Father Walsh was removed from active ministry in 2002 when police opened an investigation into his behaviour. In the same year the US Bishops Conference issued a “zero tolerance” policy on clerical sex abuse after being summoned to Rome.