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Prosecutor to query archdiocese officials in trial of ex-priest

Times Staff Writer

A prosecutor said Wednesday that he planned to seek testimony from several officials in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles on how they handled sexual abuse allegations against a former priest charged this week with molesting a Pacoima boy.

The former priest, George Miller, 69, appeared briefly in court Wednesday, but his arraignment was postponed so that he could get a lawyer. Prosecutors said Miller met the alleged victim at Guardian Angel Church in Pacoima, befriended his mother, and later sodomized and molested him from 1988 to 1991.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley has been investigating clergy abuse and a potential church coverup for more than four years. Miller was originally charged in 2002 with molesting three other people, including the current alleged victim’s older brother. But the case was dismissed when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that extended the statute of limitations for decades-old sexual abuse.

Four men, including the accuser in the new case, shared in a $660-million settlement of clergy abuse litigation reached earlier this month by the archdiocese and 508 accusers.

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Cardinal Roger M. Mahony fought for years to shield confidential files on Miller and another priest from prosecutors, turning them over last year after a final rebuff by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Information in the file did not lead directly to the new case, but has been helpful in prosecuting Miller, said Deputy Dist. Atty. William Hodgman, who heads the church investigation. Hodgman added that it was unlikely Mahony would be asked to testify in the Miller case.

Miller is charged with three counts of lewd acts on a child and three counts of sodomy of a person under 14. Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Jeffery M. Harkavy set bail at $600,000. If convicted, Miller faces up to 18 years in prison.

Santa Monica attorney Steve Cron confirmed that he is discussing representing Miller, but declined further comment.

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john.spano@latimes.com


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