Federal Judge: Accuser May See Priest's Records

By David Singleton
Scranton Times [Pennsylvania]
March 25, 2004

Attorneys for a man who claims he was molested by two Roman Catholic priests while a student at St. Gregory's Academy may review the psychological records of one of the accused clergymen, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Jones E. Jones III ruled the two reports on the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity were not protected by either the psychologist-patient privilege or the attorney-client privilege.

Judge Jones deferred a decision on a similar report on the second priest, the Rev. Eric Ensey, because it is unavailable and the Canadian doctor who performed the evaluation has refused even to acknowledge its existence.

A civil complaint filed in March 2002 by the former St. Gregory's student --identified in court documents as John Doe -- accused Revs. Urrutigoity and Ensey of molesting him while he attended the boys' academy in Elmhurst during the 1997-98 school year.

The two priests are members of the Society of St. John, a throwback Catholic order associated with the Diocese of Scranton which at the time was housed at St. Gregory's. When the molestation allegations surfaced, Bishop James C. Timlin ordered both men to undergo evaluations.

At a Jan. 27 hearing before Judge Jones, attorney Sal Cognetti, who represents the priests, argued all of their psychological and psychiatric reports are protected by privilege and should remain confidential.

But Judge Jones said his review of the record indicates the priests did not have an expectation of privacy because they knew the results of the evaluations would be disclosed to third parties, including Bishop Timlin.

The evaluations of Rev. Urrutigoity were conducted in October 2001 at the Archdiocese of New York and in March 2002 at the Southdown Institute in Ontario, Canada, a treatment facility used by the diocese.

Judge Jones said he will not rule on the report on Rev. Ensey, who was also evaluated at Southdown in March 2002, until the court receives and inspects it.

Judge Jones said his ruling covered only the pretrial discovery process and was not meant "to imply or predict" the admissibility of the reports when the case goes to trial. The judge said that issue will require a separate ruling.

The trial is now scheduled for September.