LOS ANGELES – A defrocked priest suspected of child molestation left the Los Angeles Archdiocese to work for the LA Unified School District, according to a report.
Joseph Pina, 66, was let go from the district over the weekend after his employment was disclosed, the Los Angeles Times said Sunday. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy told the newspaper that Pina did not work with children in his job with the nation's second-largest school system. He also was not accused of any wrongdoing during his time at LAUSD.
Pina's name appeared in files released recently by the archdiocese to comply with a court order. His case was one of many in which church officials protected priests accused of abuse, the Times said.
School officials could not immediately say when Pina was hired. He was laid off from his full-time district job last year, but returned to work occasionally to organize events.
Deasy said the district already was looking into the matter of Pina's hiring.
"I find it troubling," he said of the disclosures about the former clergyman. "And I also want to understand what knowledge that we had of any background problems when hiring him, and I don't yet know that."
The Times said Pina apparently helped to organize a ribbon-cutting Saturday for a new education facility in the city of Bell. He did not attend the event, and the district could not confirm over the weekend whether he had been paid for his services.
A 1993 psychological evaluation obtained by the newspaper states that Pina "remains a serious risk for acting out." It adds that, "over the years he has perfected his method, and his behavior suggests that single Hispanic female mothers and possibly minors are at risk for becoming victimized."
The evaluation also recommended authorities "take appropriate measures and precautions to insure that he is not in a setting where he can victimize others." Pina continued to work as a pastor until at least March 1998.
Pina's job with the LAUSD involved community outreach, building support for school projects, while also collecting and trying to address community concerns, district officials said.
Deasy said it may have been Pina himself who first alerted district officials that his name appeared in the recently-released documents. Pina called a senior administrator in the facilities division.