Bishop Soto wrote to a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to plead for mercy for a priest who preyed on altar boys.
His name was Andrew Christian Andersen.
“He was a classmate of mine, a fellow seminarian,” Soto said over coffee recently. In September of 1986, Andersen was convicted on 26 counts of molesting altar boys. His victims never got their day in court because Andersen was allowed to skip a trial and go straight to conviction and sentencing. The victims felt betrayed. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles media reported how Andersen was cheered by devotees unmoved by facts or early court rulings.
Soto was sticking up for a friend and suggesting that his troubles were the result of intimate misunderstandings. But measured or not, the judge listened. Instead of prison, Andersen received a suspended jail sentence, was placed on probation for five years and was sent to a New Mexico for therapy.
Guess what Andersen did in New Mexico? He was arrested for abusing and kidnapping a New Mexico boy. Having violated his parole, he was sentenced to the six-year prison term he should have gotten in the first place.