Police eventually got the altar boy list, with no help from the archdiocese. Investigators learned the extent of Aguilar-Rivera's alleged crimes by interviewing boys ranging in age from about 9 to 13.
In all, police said, 26 boys were molested in just nine months, many of them repeatedly. Aguilar-Rivera would eventually be charged in a felony complaint relating to 10 boys, with 19 counts of committing a lewd act with a child.
A Los Angeles Times reporter asked the archdiocese for comment at the time; its public statement stands in direct contrast to what the newly released documents reveal. "He was asked to stay in the country to face the accusations against him, but he chose to leave," said Joseph Battaglia, the spokesman for the archdiocese.
In the article, police said the church was being less than forthcoming with investigators; a father of two of the alleged victims said simply, "The church shouldn't be telling lies."
With the allegations now in the open, the tone of archdiocese officials shifted. Three days later, Curry wrote Aguilar-Rivera's bishop in Mexico and included a copy of the Los Angeles Times' story.
"May I request that if you know of the whereabouts of Father Aguilar-Rivera," Curry said, "you urge him most strongly to return here to answer the allegations that have been made against him."
While on the run, Aguilar-Rivera even called the home of one of the boys he allegedly molested.
"Don't you know everybody is looking for you?" the mother said, according to a March 11, 1988, memo.
"For what?" Aguilar-Rivera responded.
Aguilar-Rivera would remain in the priesthood in Mexico - for another 21 years. He would be dogged of more molestation allegations while there.
A civil suit filed in the United States in 2010 by a Mexican citizen alleged Aguilar-Rivera raped him when he was a 12-year-old altar boy in Mexico. The suit alleges Mahony and a Mexican cardinal conspired to hide Aguilar-Rivera between the two countries with full knowledge of his alleged pedophilia, putting an untold number of children at risk. Mahony has denied the allegations.
Aguilar-Rivera was convicted in Mexico in 2003 of a misdemeanor sex abuse charge, but was allowed to walk free while the case was under appeal, according to the Dallas Morning News.
He remains on Mexico's federal prosecutor's Most Want List wanted on charges of rape and indecent assault.
Aguilar-Rivera was finally stripped of his duties in 2009 by the Vatican, which approved his removal from "clerical state, a priest who has been accused of the sexual abuse of minors in Mexico and the United States," the Catholic News Agency reported on July 31, 2009.
Attorney De Marco said it's disgusting church authorities did nothing to stop him.
"He was able to walk around with the authority of the collar in a country where that authority carries more significance than it does here," De Marco said. "How could anyone ever justify that 21-year delay? This man molested 26 children in nine months in the United States. How many more were there over 21 years?"
Aguilar-Rivera, now 71, is believed to be alive, a free man in Mexico.
Mahony prays for humiliation
Mahony, who turns 77 next week, was appointed archbishop of Los Angeles by Pope John Paul II in 1985, overseeing the archdiocese until 2011 when he retired. In 1991, he became a cardinal, the highest-ranking Catholic clergy below the pope.
McKiernan, who launched BishopAccountability.org in 2003 to keep track of the widespread church abuse, said the recently released documents show the scope and magnitude of Mahony's and Curry's efforts in "intentionally evading the authorities."
"We didn't have evidence of that before. It's actually more stark," he said. "You can tell from these documents Mahony was trying to keep abused priests away from police. -... The document record is a disgraceful one."
Curry stepped down earlier this month as the regional bishop of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and "publicly apologized for his decisions while serving as vicar for clergy," archbishop Gomez said in announcing the resignation.
Mahony has said he has long acknowledged mistakes in the 1980s and that he improved the reporting mechanisms of priestly abuse in the years that followed.
He has recently taken to his personal blog, scribing an array of posts about praying for humiliation.
"... I am for the first time realizing that I should be praying for the very things from which I cringe, the disgrace I abhor, the fool that I seem," he blogged on February 15.
In a post this week, he asked followers for "your prayers and your encouragements in my own life to handle all of my mistakes, omissions, and commissions as God asks, and as Jesus and Mary lived out: to take in what swirls around me, to hold it, to carry it, to transform it and to give it back as grace, blessing and gift."
De Marco, the attorney conducting the deposition, said Mahony should feel one emotion far greater than humiliation: shame.
Amid calls for Mahony to not travel to Rome, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles remains steadfast in its support of his trip, saying canon law dictates that he attend.
Catholics United, a liberal-leaning group that pushes for social justice within the church, and SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) said they delivered a petition with close to 10,000 signatures to Saint Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood on Saturday, asking for Mahony not to attend the conclave.
"His participation in the conclave would only bring clouds of shame at a time that should bring springs of hope. Cardinal Mahony, please, stay home," said Chris Pumpelly, Catholics United's communications director.
There is no indication he will.