Kamala Harris Gave Predator Priests a Pass

News: Commentary
by Bruce Walker  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 31, 2019   

2020 Democratic presidential candidate failed to prosecute sex abusers in California

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Recently announced 2020 presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is facing scrutiny over her mishandling of clergy sex abuse during her tenure as San Francisco district attorney less than a decade ago. It was widely reported that DA Harris conducted her investigation of clergy sex abuse too secretively, resulting in no prosecutions despite compelling truth to the contrary.

The revelations resurfaced mere weeks after Senators Harris and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, grilled U.S. district judge nominee Brian Buescher about his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic social and philanthropic organization. The senators' hostile approach raised questions whether they were violating Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits any "religious test ... as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Both issues pose serious concerns for Catholic voters. The Church has been rocked by sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups by Catholic hierarchy for decades. The Church also has been attacked consistently for its doctrinal stances on same-sex marriages and abortion by cultural secularists and far-left politicians. For example, this past September, Harris attempted to force Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh into siding with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's pro-abortion views.


As San Francisco's district attorney, Harris was perceived as operating in a secretive fashion that benefited accused priests to the detriment of justice for their alleged victims.

According to Jim Geraghty, writing earlier this month in the National Review:

Some have asked tough questions about whether Harris, as San Francisco district attorney, did everything she could to root out abuse in the local Catholic churches. Prosecutors had obtained personnel files from the Archdiocese of San Francisco dealing with sexual abuse going back decades. But her office did not prosecute any priests, and she argued that those records were not subject to public-records laws.

In a 2010 letter addressed to DA Harris and obtained by Church Militant, abuse victim Joey Piscitelli, San Francisco Bay Area leader of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), expressed his frustration with Harris for her office's secrecy:

As the top law enforcement person in San Francisco, you should know that it is important to protect children in your district. As a matter of fact, that should be your top priority.

It is not understandable that you have refused to release the documents that have been previously collected by DA Terence Hallinan, that spell out the names of the child rapists, and molesters who have wreaked havoc on children here. Many of those clergy sex offenders are still here in San Francisco.

For example, the clergy sex offender that molested me in High School, whom I sued — Fr. Whelan — is still here in the City of San Francisco. But he is just one of many sex offenders who are a threat to kids in the City. Where are the rest of them, and what are their names? You know who they are, and you have access to where they are.

Piscitelli continued:

Don't you feel a sense of responsibility?

Many members of the press have asked you to release the documents and the names, and you refuse. We all know you are not refusing to list the names and documents because you are protecting children. We all know you can redact the names of the children from the documents. What is vital is that you help to make those names of child sex offenders transparent, because Bishop Niederauer of San Francisco, and Cardinal Levada, certainly are not being transparent.

DA Hallinan says that you CAN release the documents. And you know that you can. Nobody is being fooled.

Piscitelli also asks Harris if she is more beholden to the archbishop of San Francisco and conspiring with him in covering up the crimes of priests who "molested, raped, and violated" children than she is committed to the protection of San Francisco youth.

In a 2010 SF Weekly essay, journalist Matt Smith states:

It's worth recalling that Harris was recently lambasted by a judge for hiding the extent of an evidence-handling scandal at the San Francisco Police Department crime lab, and for ignoring her constitutional obligation to turn over to defense attorneys the criminal histories of police testifying at trial.

Did Harris merely misinterpret the law? Or does she have a penchant for secrecy?

On April 21, just as controversy was heating up over the Vatican's role in the global sex abuse scandal, Harris' deputy, Paul Henderson, responded to my request by stating that Harris' investigative files were not subject to California's government transparency laws; her office essentially enjoys a blanket secrecy privilege.

I sent Henderson's arguments to California Newspaper Publishers Association legal counsel Jim Ewert. "That's flatly untrue," he said. The District Attorney's office "can release them if they want to. But they have decided not to."

The Canada Free Press reported in September that Harris' anti-Catholic and pro-abortion politics extends to retaliating against groups attempting to expose Planned Parenthood's sale of aborted children:

As California Attorney General Kamala Harris ordered a raid on the home of David Daledin [sic], who in 2015 exposed Planned Parenthood officials openly discussing buying and selling the body parts and organs from aborted babies for research. ... Rather than opening an investigation into Planned Parenthood for trafficking in human body parts, California's then-Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, filed charges against the undercover investigators, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress. Harris ordered Daleiden's home to be raided, and using 11 agents, confiscated video research and evidence, in an attempt to prevent millions of people from seeing what actually goes on inside Planned Parenthood.


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