Prosecutors, Archdiocese Still Talking

By Kimball Perry
The Cincinnati Post [Cincinnati OH]
Downloaded November 19, 2003

For the second straight day, a special grand jury seated to hear evidence of possible cover-up by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati of allegations of sexual abuse by priests didn't meet Tuesday.

That's because archdiocese officials continued to meet with Hamilton County prosecutors during the day to discuss a possible settlement.

"I can't tell you," Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said Tuesday when asked for an update on the discussions.

"All I can tell you is -- it's still true that there are discussions between the archdiocese and prosecutors."

Tricia Hempel, an archdiocese spokeswoman, said Monday "if something breaks, it should be at the end of the week."

Prosecutor Mike Allen, through a spokesman, refused comment again.

Archdiocese attorneys did not return calls Tuesday.

The special grand jury -- the second since April 2002 to look into possible wrongdoing by archdiocese officials -- will investigate if church officials properly reported to police allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

Jurors were selected last week, but were told Monday and Tuesday not to report as the two sides continued talks.

The sides fought for 18 months about what church documents prosecutors were to be given access to. That ended suddenly Monday when, with both sides facing a deadline to submit written explanations to an appeals court why the documents should either stayed sealed or be shown to prosecutors, the sides agreed to dismiss that court fight.

Archdiocese attorney Mark VanderLaan said the agreement was reached "mutually."

That could mean that archdiocese officials either gave prosecutors access to the documents they wanted or a criminal plea bargain could be in the works.

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