Diocese Fights 'Republic' Request for Court Documents

By Joseph A. Reaves
The Arizona Republic
May 6, 2003

TUCSON - A judge heard arguments for nearly an hour Monday on a request to protect public access to documents subpoenaed in a lawsuit filed against Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien and other church officials.

The lawsuit accuses O'Brien and other church officials of failing to properly supervise a serial pedophile priest who worked in Phoenix in the 1960s when Phoenix parishes were part of the Tucson Diocese. Attorneys for The Arizona Republic asked Judge Christopher C. Browning of Pima County Superior Court to allow the newspaper to join in key legal proceedings, including disputes over the confidentiality of documents produced in the case.

Peter Kozinets argued the public has a strong interest in knowing how the Phoenix Diocese handled cases of alleged sexual molestation by priests. He said the diocese showed a pattern of trying to stifle the public's right to know by "creating a wall of secrecy."

Attorneys for O'Brien and the Phoenix and Tucson dioceses denied that allegation and said adequate standards already exist to protect both the public access and the privacy of sex abuse victims.

"Our position is not to keep the press from the proceedings. It never has been," said Foster Robberson, attorney for the Phoenix Diocese. "We ought to allow the press to play its usual role."

But, Robberson said, allowing The Republic to participate in arguments about which documents should be kept confidential would only add expense and complications. Browning questioned both sides, then said he would take the case under advisement.

The lawsuit involves allegations by a former altar boy at St. Gregory's Parish in Phoenix that he was repeatedly molested during a two-year span beginning in 1965 when he was 13 years old by the Rev. Robert A. Gluch. The former altar boy says he repressed all memory of the attacks until May 2001 when he read news accounts of other youths molested by priests. Gluch, who died in 1993, was a newly ordained priest when he was assigned to St. Gregory's with O'Brien in the mid-1960s. The suit contends O'Brien "knew or should have known of Gluch's propensities and behavior with boys but did not report Gluch's acts to the police."

O'Brien has denied knowing anything about Gluch's suspected activities.


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