Lawyer Accuses Church of Hiding Documents
The Associated Press, carried in Times Argus
July 20, 2006
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Burlington — The lawyer for 21 people suing Vermont's Roman Catholic
Diocese for alleged sexual abuse by priests is accusing the diocese of
withholding large numbers of documents it is legally required to produce.
"The diocese is withholding 27 years of documents," lawyer Jerome
O'Neill wrote in a request that the Chittenden Superior Court impose sanctions
on the church.
He said the diocese and its lawyer, William O'Brien, "either purposely
hid large numbers of documents ... or completely breached their duty of
O'Brien said the diocese has not withheld the records, saying "The
diocese has produced an unprecedented amount of material, literally thousands
of pages of diocesan documents, and we are confident that this motion
will be denied."
He added that the "diocese has been fully cooperative with the legal
process and will continue to do so in the future as we move to resolve
these cases as fairly and expeditiously as possible."
O'Neill requested in his motion that the next lawsuit the diocese faces
— involving alleged abuse by the Rev. George Paulin, who worked
at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport in the 1970s — be
decided in favor of the plaintiff without a trial. O'Neill also wrote,
without providing examples, that the diocese is concealing documents "probably
in every other case." He said the allegedly withheld documents include
a letter from Paulin's sister to then-Bishop Kenneth Angell, documents
connected to a case the diocese settled earlier this year for $965,000,
and records shared with the state attorney general's office in a separate
O'Neill's motion said the church's actions had been deceitful in that
it had filed false documents in court saying it had produced all the documents
it was required to turn over.deceitful in that it had filed false documents
in court saying it had produced all the documents it was required to turn