More Minnesota church officials ordered to provide documents about alleged clergy abuse

Star Tribune

Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune Updated: January 28, 2015

The documents will be produced under seal.

A judge has ordered church officials to turn over documents about alleged clergy sex abuse in a lawsuit filed against two dioceses and a Catholic order.

The move is especially meaningful to attorneys suing the Diocese of New Ulm, Diocese of Duluth and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate because the two dioceses have refused to disclose some information that others have shared. The Diocese of New Ulm is the only Minnesota diocese that hasn’t released a list of credibly accused priests. The Diocese of Duluth has released the names of credibly accused priests, but hasn’t released documents related to those accusations.

An order issued Tuesday by Ramsey County District Court Judge John Guthmann compels the dioceses and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to produce information about alleged abuse, reports, priests’ names and “any document referencing clergy abuse” committed before 1978.

Guthmann wrote that during this discovery stage of the lawsuit, “any and all” information about alleged priest abuse is “directly relevant to what defendants knew or should have known prior to the abuse experienced by plaintiff.”

In the suit, Doe 30, a former altar boy, alleges that the Rev. James Vincent Fitzgerald sexually abused him in the 1970s when he was 13. Fitzgerald, who is dead, was employed by the three defendants named in the suit.

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