Bishop Accountability
  Victim Advocates Protest Secrecy

By Todd Ruger
Quad-City Times
November 24, 2003

The Diocese of Davenport continues to keep a veil of secrecy over lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests, unlike other dioceses that have made documents available, advocates for victims of abusive priests say.

“The bishop there and the leadership is attempting to continue the silence and secrecy,” said Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “It leaves kids at risk.”

Blaine made the comments about requests by Davenport diocese attorneys to destroy papers used to compile information for a study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to determine the scope of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

Diocese attorney Chuck Miller said he has asked a Clinton County District Court judge to help resolve two conflicting directions: one from the study suggesting that diocese officials dispose of documents, the other from a Clinton County district judge ordering them not to.

“The victims have to be the ones who come forward and expose these perpetrators,” Barbara Blaine said of her perception of the Davenport diocese’s response to eight civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests. “Why wouldn’t they be willing to disclose what they have? There must be more perpetrators there.”

The diocese said it has not yet submitted a report on the scope of child sexual abuse in its diocese, which was due Friday as part of a survey, because of the conflicting directions.

Also, the notes used to respond to the survey could reveal the identity of an individual who has requested to remain anonymous, the diocese said in a news release.

Craig Levien, the Davenport attorney for six of the eight plaintiffs, said Thursday the dioce is not paralyzed by conflicting directions, instead suggesting it is a tactic by a diocese that has denied “responsibility, liability and any of the facts that occurred.”

All 159 U.S. Catholic dioceses have been asked to report the number of incidents, offenders and victims of sexual abuse of minors between 1950 and 2002 for a national report by the National Review Board, an independent panel appointed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)


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