Archdiocese Must Yield Info on "Credibly Accused" Priests
By Emily Gurnon
March 18, 2014
A Ramsey County judge ruled Tuesday that the Twin Cities archdiocese must turn over by March 31 documents related to its priests "credibly accused" of child sexual abuse.
Names and biographical information on those 34 priests were disclosed in December, but attorneys for a plaintiff known as Doe 1 sought church documents that the archdiocese so far has refused to release.
Judge John Van de North wrote in a memorandum that Minnesota has a "long tradition of liberal discovery and a generous definition of relevance for purposes of gathering facts prior to trial."
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had argued that the discovery sought by the plaintiff concerned "internal policies of the Roman Catholic Church" that are protected by the U.S. and state constitutions.
But Van de North said officials have provided "little explanation or support for the objection on constitutional grounds." He said case law in Minnesota does not exempt religious institutions from complying with discovery requests.
The judge's order also applies to the Diocese of Winona, also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
In a written statement, the archdiocese said it looks forward to working with the court and opposing parties in complying with Tuesday's ruling.
Doe 1 sued the archdiocese, the diocese and former priest Thomas Adamson, alleging Adamson molested him in 1976 or 1977 when the priest served at St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park. Doe 1 also alleged the archdiocese and diocese failed to respond, moving Adamson from parish to parish amid the allegations.
The "credibly accused" priests whose names the archdiocese disclosed in December were on a list compiled by church officials prior to 2004.
Documents related to priests accused of child sexual abuse since 2004 -- which have been filed under seal -- may be turned over under seal as well, Van de North ordered.
Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522. Follow her at twitter.com/emilygurnon.