Diocese Fights Request to Turn over Priest's Records
By Alicia Fabbre
February 27, 2003
Rockford Diocese officials are challenging prosecutors' request for records of a former Geneva priest accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.
In court documents filed Wednesday, an attorney for the diocese argues that the request for records of Mark Campobello violates state laws regarding the confidentiality of mental health records and church laws protecting records from internal investigations.
Campobello, 38, was arrested in December after a girl, now 18, made allegations that he abused her while he was a resident priest at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Geneva. He faces five counts of criminal sexual assault and five counts of criminal sexual abuse that the girl says occurred between January and May of 1999. The girl, who was 14 at the time, was a student at St. Peter's.
Prosecutors and police have declined to provide details about where the abuse occurred.
Assistant State's Attorney Jody Gleason filed a request with the diocese for Campobello's personnel file and transfer records. Her request also asked for records involving any internal investigations regarding the allegations, secret records kept by the church and any records from St. Luke's Institute in Maryland, a facility that treats priests accused of sexual misconduct. Gleason said she is uncertain if Campobello underwent treatment at St. Luke's.
Diocese officials immediately removed Campobello from his duties as a parochial administrator at St. James Parish in Belvidere after his arrest. On Wednesday, officials maintained they were willing to cooperate with prosecutors, but noted state and church laws prohibit them from turning over certain records.
"It's not that we're unwilling to cooperate," said Ellen Lynch, an attorney for the Rockford Diocese. "If there were no laws preventing us from doing this, we would turn (the records) over."
A written statement from the diocese reads:
"The Catholic Diocese of Rockford's interest in the legal proceedings against Father Mark Campobello are two - that the truth is revealed and that justice is served. Accordingly, the diocese is committed to cooperate with prosecutors and defense counsel to the extent that this cooperation does not put the diocese in violation of the laws of the state or of the Church."
In court documents filed Wednesday, Lynch argued that the state's Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act prohibits the release of mental health records. She noted that Campobello's personnel file includes mental health records, and any information from St. Luke's would consist "entirely of mental health records." However, Lynch declined to describe the facility or say if Campobello ever was admitted to St. Luke's.
In her response to prosecutors' request for records regarding internal investigations by the church and any secret records kept by the church, Lynch said the church law requires those records be confidential.
She argued that requiring those confidential records be turned over "obliterates the wall of separation created by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution." She added that turning over such documents also would "strip the Catholic Diocese of Rockford of its constitutionally guaranteed independence and freedom from governmental intrusion."
Campobello will appear in court again on March 6. A hearing date to determine if the records should be turned over has not been scheduled.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
money guide of hospital products guide of international market guide of repair roof before winter guide of website income guide of secure your business guide of face makeup tools guide of jewellery arts guide of tv shows guide of best places on earth guide of job plans guide of cheap cars guide of creating products guide of women tools guide of eat less guide of car insurance process guide of sport stuff guide of garden home guide of cheap insurances guide of electronic tech guide of healthy feeding guide of what is next in fashion guide of improve company guide of tactical insurance guide of make money at home guide of development in business guide of dept loan guide of cooking secrets guide of correct companies guide of jobs with more income guide of reviews o general products guide of improving technology guide of ideal job guide of business sectors guide of dept problem guide of unlimited business guide of suitable insurance company guide of money cars guide of how to market guide of heatlhy diet tips guide of decoration tipse guide of security problems