Victims' Group Asks for Apology from Diocese

The Olympian [Spokane WA]
Downloaded September 9, 2003

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SPOKANE -- A victims' group has demanded an apology from Roman Catholic Bishop William Skylstad for seeking a judicial gag order on lawsuits involving sexual abuse by priests.

Even though the Spokane diocese has dropped its request for a gag order, that is not enough, said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"This is the only diocese I know of that tried a court-imposed gag order," Clohessy of St. Louis, Mo., said during a visit here Monday. "The main reason abusers have been removed and kids are safer and victims are healing is because we've come forward and we reported the abuse.

"Anything that prevents or discourages victims from reporting these crimes is very problematic."

In late August, the Spokane Diocese asked a Spokane County judge to issue a gag order on pretrial information from two clergy sexual-abuse lawsuits involving Patrick O'Donnell, a priest removed from the ministry in 1986.

The order would allow plaintiffs to get information during the pretrial discovery process, but prevent them from repeating any details publicly.

Diocese lawyers argued in their request that the same protections against releasing the identity of alleged victims should be available to the diocese. The diocese also said it wanted to protect the privacy of individuals who aren't directly involved in the cases.


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