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Los Angeles News

LAUSD Allegedly Warned Before Hiring Ex-Priest
Posted by Ivetta Babadjanian on Feb 4, 2013 - 7:31:09 PM

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Unified School District began an investigation on Monday, February 4 regarding how a former priest who admitted to having a sexual relationship with an underage girl was employed by the school system.
pina-priest.jpg
Former priest Joseph Pina. Photo courtesy of the 1999 Catholic Directory.


Joseph Pina worked for the LAUSD in school development beginning in 2008 until he was laid off in 2012. According to LAUSD officials, the 66-year-old continued working for the district on occasion until last week.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles defrocked
Pina after several investigations of sexual misconduct as well as confession of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl.

LAUSD was not notified of
Pina's sexual abuse allegations until last week when the Archdiocese released thousands of pages of sex abuse documents to comply with a court order. According to the documentation, the cases released were those of which church officials allegedly failed to protect child victims and first consideration was given to offending priests.

One of the documents released was a 127-page report on the former priest's confession to a church-paid psychiatrist as well as various reports of alleged rape and sexual abuse. "She dressed as Snow White. ... I had a crush on Snow White, so I started to open myself up to her," Pina said in a psychological evaluation from 1993. "I felt like I fell in love with her. I got sexually involved with her, but never intercourse. She was about 17 when we got involved sexually, and it continued until she was about 19."

The therapist documented that Pina was "a serious risk for acting out" and "his behavior suggests that single Hispanic female mothers and possibly minors are at risk for becoming victimized.” The evaluation also recommended "to take appropriate measures and precautions to [ensure] that he is not in a setting where he can victimize others." Pina continued to work as a pastor until March 1998.

Pina was never convicted, thus, his name did not appear on any sex offender registries that would give reason for LAUSD to not hire him. However, the Los Angeles Archdiocese stated Monday that it had warned LAUSD of Pina's former allegations
in a district questionnaire before the school hired him.

“The Archdiocese received an employment questionnaire from the LAUSD in August 2001 regarding Joseph Pina,” Tod M. Tamberg, director of media relations, said in a statement.

“In response to the question: ”˜Should the Los Angeles Unified School District consider anything else regarding this candidate’s employment suitability?’, the Archdiocese checked the box, ”˜yes,’ adding that we would ”˜not recommend him for a position in the schools.’ In response to the next question on the form, ”˜Would you hire this person again?’, the Archdiocese checked the box ”˜no.’"

Tamberg added: “There is no indication in our files of any follow-up from LAUSD once the form was returned to the LAUSD.”

According to LAUSD, there were no complaints against Pina during his time of employment.



 

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