Church asks judge to loosen requirements for disclosing priest abuse allegations

Minnesota Public Radio

Madeleine Baran St. Paul, Minn. Dec 30, 2013

Lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have asked a judge to loosen an order requiring it to disclose the names of all priests accused of child sexual abuse since 2004.

The archdiocese now argues that it doesn’t want to release the names of all priests accused of abuse. Rather, it wants time to investigate the allegations first and release the names of the accused priests only if Catholic Church officials determine the claims are credible.

Ramsey County Judge John Van de North ordered the Twin Cities archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona to release the names of all recently accused priests by Jan. 6. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday — three days before the Jan. 6 deadline.

In a Dec. 18 letter to Van de North, archdiocese attorney Tom Wieser asked the judge to grant the archdiocese “30 days upon learning of an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor to investigate the claim. If The Archdiocese determines that the claim is not credible, it shall be permitted an opportunity to seek an independent review and determination from the Court regarding The Archdiocese’s obligation to publicly disclose the accusation,” Wieser wrote.

The Diocese of Winona submitted a similar letter to Van de North, in which attorney Thomas Braun explained, “The Diocese shares concerns that a wholesale public disclosure of incredible, unsubstantiated, frivolous or malicious accusations would do irreparable harm to the reputations of those individuals without good cause.”

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