Los Angeles Legal Examiner - Saunders & Walker [Pinellas Park FL]
March 4, 2022
By Joseph Saunders, Esq.
When former Bishop Howard Hubbard penned an Op-ed in the Times Union just as the Child Victims’ Act was about to expire, his former diocese was facing more than 300 lawsuits from survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
His words offered regret for mistakes made in the past and hope for reconciliation and healing, in spite of the fact that Hubbard himself was the target of some of the abuse allegations.
Currently, the Diocese of Albany is fighting the release of internal documents that would surely shed light on how sexual predators were allowed to continue preying on innocent children. The Times Union reported that “The diocese has quietly waged an aggressive effort in court to conceal records that may reveal more about its handling of sexual abuse cases. . . The diocese, and Hubbard’s defense attorneys, also have sought to prevent victims’ attorneys from obtaining the records of other clergy found to have committed sexual abuse in unrelated cases, arguing that the materials are privileged and their release through pre-trial discovery would be prejudicial.”
Hubbard, in apparent contradiction of his own Op-ed piece, has fought the public disclosure of his own deposition transcripts as well as the records of other priests in the diocese accused of the sexual abuse of minors.
According to the Times Union, “Attorneys for many of those victims, citing Hubbard’s public statements to the Times Union last year, have countered that the judge should lift the protective order and unseal at least portions of that deposition, which they said would reveal “misrepresentations” and “one outright lie” in Hubbard’s August 2021 op-ed in the Times Union.
In the December hearing before Mackey, attorneys for victims who have filed lawsuits against the diocese or Hubbard argued that the former bishop’s public statements last year had misled the public.”
As a lawyer and an advocate for courageous survivors, I am well aware of the importance of these internal documents. In every instance in which I have litigated a priest abuse case, these internal documents show a consistent pattern of cover-up and minimizing the claims of abuse survivors. They also show a pattern of concealing from the public eye just how rampant the problem of priest abuse has been in a particular diocese. None of this information would be available to the public or the survivors without the public disclosure of these internal documents, some of which are located in the church’s secret archives. The secret archives is mandated by canon law (church law) to maintain confidential information and usually for the bishop’s eyes only. These secret archives often contain the most damning evidence implicating the church’s top officials, including past and present bishops, who took an active role in protecting and covering for the offending priest. These are the documents that every survivor has a right to review if justice is to be served in these tragic cases. Otherwise, the church will continue to operate with impunity.
Admitted to practice law in all federal multidistrict litigation courts, the California State Bar and the Florida Bar. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representations and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury, death, or sexual abuse.