Ex-Priest's Psychological Records Can't Be Released
Court Imposes Order As Condition of the Rev. J. Alexander Sherlock's Files Being Given to District Attorney's Office

By Gary McElroy
Mobile Register [Mobile AL]
May 1, 2003

A judge has ordered the Mobile County district attorney's office to keep whatever information it gleans from the Rev. J. Alexander Sherlock's psychological records to itself.

Earlier this month, District Attorney John Tyson Jr. won a skirmish with Sherlock's Mobile attorney, Donald Briskman, after convincing Circuit Judge Joseph "Rusty" Johnston to order two therapists who treated Sherlock to turn over their records of the former Mobile priest.

Although he has not been charged with any crime, Sherlock, 62, is under investigation by the district attorney's office following allegations of child sex abuse.

Sherlock has admitted to a history of such offenses, according to Mobile Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb.

On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Rick Stout wrote in his order that the district attorney's office can keep the psychological records but not share them with the rest of the world.

Tyson, Stout wrote, "is hereby ordered and directed not to disseminate those records or any portion" to anyone not working on the case "as a consultant or expert.

"Under no circumstances," Stout emphasized, "are those records to be disseminated to the public or made available to the media."

Should Sherlock ever go to trial, Stout said, and the records are properly admitted as evidence, "this restriction shall not apply."

Assistant District Attorney Steve Giardini said Wednesday that once his office obtained the records, "one of the restrictions we placed on ourselves" was not to disseminate them.

"We never took the position these (records) were fair game for public dissemination," Giardini said.

Briskman said that although both sides had already informally agreed to that, he asked Stout for the formal order to make sure of it -- "In case one of us got run over by a truck."

Briskman said Wednesday he continues to maintain that his client's psychological records are, by state law, privileged and confidential.

But now that they are in the hands of Tyson, Giardini, and others, he said, he filed the new motion "out of an abundance of caution," to make certain the records do not find their way outside the district attorney's office.


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