An explosive, front-page investigation on Sunday (5/10/09) in the Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) "repeatedly" returned teachers and aides credibly accused of child molestation back to classrooms, and these individuals then molested children again. The jaw-dropping story, by Times staffer Jason Song, is incredibly angering, and the tales of abuse are stomach-turning. (An accompanying audio slideshow at the Times web site is quite disturbing.)
In the last several years, media outlets have endlessly ripped and tarred the Catholic Church for mishandling episodes from decades ago. Meanwhile, these episodes in LAUSD are all quite recent. One documented case dates back to just last year!
Where's the outrage from the rest of the media?
- At Google News, the only link I can find about the scandal is the original story in the Times.
- The web sites of ABC7 Los Angeles, NBC4 Los Angeles, and CBS2 Los Angeles currently carry nothing about the story and give no indication they've covered this at all.
- If KFI radio's popular morning host Bill Handel, a perpetual Church basher, announced the story this morning (5/11/09), I missed it. Instead, I tuned in this morning at 7:40 am to hear Handel spending several minutes on the story about a Catholic priest several thousand miles away in Florida who had an affair. Handel then proceeded to voice several falsehoods about the Church. (See below.)
KABC's Doug McIntyre deserves credit for interviewing Song this morning on his radio show and at least spending a few minutes on the issue.
Meanwhile: Is the Times finally turning a corner in their reporting?
For several years, we have reported on the disparate coverage by the Times and other mainstream outlets when reporting the awful crime of child abuse. While the Times and others seem to trumpet each-and-every decades-old allegation against a Catholic priest, they have either downplayed or ignored current-day scandals in our nation's schools. As we've written before, "When it comes to the abuse of children, it sure seems like the national media doesn't get too worked up unless the words 'Cardinal,' 'bishop,' or 'priest' is in someone's job title." (For a catalog of this disparity, see "Los Angeles Times: Clergy Abuse and School Abuse" at TheMediaReport.com.)
A couple questions remain, however:
- Will the Times follow up on this report and continue to uncover other egregious cases? Remember how the Boston Globe handled the Catholic Church abuse scandal in 2002: It wasn't just one article. The Globe ran a mind-blowing 989 articles related to the scandal in the 2002 calendar year alone! (Yes - that's an average of almost three a day! See for yourself.) On McIntyre's show this morning (5/11/09, 9 am hour), Song told the audience, "Since the Rooney incident, the number of teachers 'housed' - that's the term they use for being placed on administrative leave while charges against the employee are being investigated - has almost tripled in number."
- As the rest of the national media tracked the Church scandals in Boston several years ago and expanded on it, will mainstream outlets give this outrageous scandal the wide attention it deserves?
Falsehoods by Bill Handel: 1. Priestly celibacy in the Church only came about "1,000 years after Jesus." Wrong. The Council of Elvira, circa 309 A.D., shows that priestly celibacy was already being firmly practiced by the Church. 2. "Gays can't receive communion." Nope. Just having homosexual desires does not bar anyone from receiving the Eucharist. 3. "Divorced Catholics cannot receive communion." Wrong again. That's another myth.