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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 01:28 GMT 02:28 UK
US cardinal cleared of sex abuse
Cardinal Roger Mahony
Cardinal Mahony made public the charges
The head of the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States has been cleared of allegations that he molested a woman when she was a teenager more than 30 years ago.

Last month, Flora Hickman accused Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles of having sexually assaulted when she was a high school student in 1969.

We could not find anything that could substantiate the allegations

Police spokesman Dwayne Johnson
The cardinal himself made the charges public last week and asked for investigations by both police and the church.

Police have now dismissed the case saying they have found no evidence of a crime.

The news will come as a relief to the American church which in the past few months has been rocked by a series of sexual abuse accusations.

Priests in several states have been removed since the trial earlier this year of defrocked Boston priest John Geoghan, who was sentenced to prison for child molestation.

'Hurtful allegations'

Police spokesman Dwayne Johnson said they had investigated the claims against the cardinal which he described as "rather non-specific".

He said police had tracked down members of Cardinal Mahony's staff from that time and interviewed them.

"We could not find anything that could substantiate the allegations," Mr Johnson said.

Ms Hickman claimed she had been knocked unconscious in an incident at a Catholic high school in 1970 when Cardinal Mahony was a priest in Fresno. She alleged that when she came to, Father Mahony was hovering over her.

"I know people are not going to believe it, but it happened to me," she said.

Cardinal Mahoney said his personal integrity demanded that he refute the charges.

See also:

04 Apr 02 | Americas
NY church reveals 'sex abuse' list
04 Apr 02 | Americas
Vatican sued in sex abuse cases
21 Mar 02 | Europe
Pope denounces 'evil' sex priests
12 Mar 02 | Americas
Church agrees sex abuse payout
02 Apr 02 | Americas
Paedophile priests 'damage church'
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