A look at other lawsuits where the courts have ordered diocese officials to make records public.

Monterey County Weekly

Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2015

by Mary Duan
and Sara Rubin

The Weekly’s legal battle for records is certainly not the first, nor will it be the last, in seeking to expose the extent of sexual abuse – and cover-ups by officials – in the Catholic church or anywhere. There are many more cases with diverse circumstances, but what they have in common is media outlets and victims sought to reveal confidential records, while church officials consistently opposed their release.

Here’s a look at several of the significant cases where documents were turned over to the public:


After The Boston Globe revealed the extent of cover-ups of sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese in the early 2000s, the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic church surged into international consciousness. Until then, sexual abuse in the church was widely understood by the public to be isolated, one-off incidents.

The Globe challenged a court order that allowed the archdiocese to file court documents under seal in lawsuit against Fr. John Geoghan, and in late 2001, a judge forced the Boston Archdiocese to turn over thousands of pages of records.

The newspaper discovered the archdiocese had privately settled sexual abuse claims concerning 70 of its priests – and that the bishop knew about Geoghan’s abuse for years.

According to theGlobe, Bishop Robert Banks’ own notes from a 1989 conversation with a psychiatrist treating the priest said, “You better clip his wings before there is an explosion… you can’t afford to have him in a parish.”

Los Angeles:

Faced with 508 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to settle all of those cases in 2007. But the scandal wasn’t over: Attorneys for the plaintiffs demanded the release of personnel files of the accused priests.

The archdiocese appealed an order requiring the release of the records, but dozens of files of clergy, living and dead, were released under court order in 2013. They showed top officials protected accused priests.

“[The release of the files] concludes a sad and shameful chapter in the history of our Local Church,” according to a diocese statement. (The archdiocese made the clergy files available at http://clergyfiles.la-archdiocese.org.)

“The archdiocese again apologizes to all who were harmed in the past by clergy sexual abuse. We continue to pray earnestly that you and your families find emotional and spiritual healing.”

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