You Catholics Must Be So Proud

Christians tell us God loves us all so much. Jesus loves the little children, they say. God watches over you and protects you, they claim. Read how much God loved little Rita Mills, a devout catholic teenager. Here's how God worked miracles in her life.


Rita Mills


The first nationally breaking news story about church cover-ups of sex crimes broke in 1984, when attorney Gloria Allred brought the country's first "clergy malpractice" lawsuit on behalf of Rita Mills, a devout Catholic teenager. One day Father Santiago Tamayo reached through the broken screen in the confessional to fondle her breast. By January 1980, he was engaging in sexual intercourse with her. He introduced her to Father Cruces, who also used her sexually. In all, five other priests encouraged her compliance, flaunting their religious authority over the sheltered teenager. Rita later told news media that the priests had told her sex was natural, and that "priests get lonely, too". She was purportedly aiding them in their religious work.


When she became pregnant in January 1982, she was packed off to the Philippines. She told her family she would be "studying medicine". The priests intended for her to have her baby in secrecy and leave it there, giving her only $450 to last seven months. She lived with cockroaches and ate only one meal a day, nearly dying during childbirth of eclampsia. Her family rescued her, and Rita and her baby daughter returned to the states, after Bishop Abaya of the Philippines promised to help her.


When that aid failed to materialize, Rita went to Bishop Ward of Los Angeles for help. He said there was nothing he could do. After that final betrayal of trust, Rita and her mother filed the landmark clergy malpractice suit, seeking to establish paternity, set up child support, and sue the priests and the church for civil conspiracy for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, deceit, and clergy malpractice -- and "to protect other young women from the pain and suffering caused by priests who abuse their position of trust". The court dismissed the case, citing a one-year time limit.


When Allred called the press conference to expose the scandal and announce the suit, all seven priests mysteriously vanished without trace, according to the archdiocese of Los Angeles. In 1991, Tamayo finally resurfaced, documenting to media that the diocese had warned him and his cohorts to flee the country. Tamayo offered proof that the church had known his whereabouts for years, including during the time when Allred tried unsuccessfully to serve him and the other priests with legal papers. The archdiocese had sent him monthly payments for years while he hid out in the Philippines.


In 1988, the church had finally set up a $20,000 trust fund for Mill's daughter, after she agreed to drop a slander suit against a bishop. The church lawyer maintained it was not an admission of liability, but an act of benevolence for the child.


-- Annie Laurie Gaylor

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