Rev. James Lara worked from 1973 to 1992 at the Diocese of Brooklyn. He was dropped from the ministry due to credible allegations of child molestation years ago but the diocese didn’t disclose that fact. Instead, he became an award-winning author and professor with the little change in his name - Jaime. The Church chose to protect its reputation instead of protecting possible future victims.
Lara was able to keep his past hidden for so long because the diocese refused to tell the public which priests were removed from ministry because of “credible” allegations of molesting children, the Washington Post reports.
Over the past 25 years, Jaime Lara was a professor at Yale University, wrote five books and won more than a dozen prestigious awards and fellowships. Since 2013, he has been a professor of medieval and renaissance studies at Arizona State University. He succeeded to hide his problematic past and he also built an illustrious career in the academic world of sacred art history.
On Thursday, the Brooklyn diocese quietly posted Mr. Lara’s name on its website, confirming that he had been laicized, or defrocked, for the abuse. Later in the day, the diocese posted the names of seven more former priests who were defrocked for child sexual abuse offenses, in an effort to protect children who might come into contact with them. This move happened under pressure of numerous victims. Victims of Father Lara, who served in Brooklyn for 19 years, and victim advocates said on Thursday that while they were glad that his name was being publicized, they felt it was too little too late.
“There is no excuse for a supposedly moral institution to wait 25 years to release a pedophile priest’s name,” said Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer portrayed in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” about clergy sexual abuse.
Ricardo Gonzalez, one of the victims, said the priest began sexually abusing him when he was about 11 years old. “He wanted me to kiss him, he would get on top of me, he would say you can do better than that,” Gonzelez, 48, told the Times. “He would make me touch him in his private parts.” As the abuse continued, Mr. Gonzalez, who is now a hairdresser, dropped out of high school and at one point attempted suicide, he said.
What kind of irony is that a pedophile priest successfully covers his dark past (of course, with the help from the church), while victims want but cannot escape from past’s demons.
Photo Credits: Transcend Media Service