|Judge Denies Attorney Priest's Personnel Records
By Jim O'Hara
November 11, 2008
A judge Monday threw out a lawsuit seeking personnel records of a priest from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse who is accused of sexually molesting three young boys in Montgomery County.
State Supreme Court Justice Brian DeJoseph agreed with lawyers for the diocese and other defendants that the lawsuit filed by lawyer John Aretakis was technically deficient because it failed to state a legitimate cause of action.
Aretakis had been seeking records about the Rev. John W. Broderick from the Syracuse diocese; the Albany diocese; the Society of St. Pius X, based in Platte City, Mo.; the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, based in Elmhurst, Pa.; the Dominican Sisters of Idaho, which runs a school in Massena; the Franciscan Brothers; and the Rev. Timothy Pfeiffer, pastor of Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God Church, a St. Pius community in Syracuse.
Broderick, who has not ministered in the local diocese since 2004 when he resigned as pastor of St. Malachy Church in Sherburne, is facing criminal prosecution on child sex abuse charges in Montgomery County.
Aretakis filed the lawsuit in Syracuse in September, seeking Broderick's personnel records to assist that criminal prosecution and the family of the victims.
But lawyers for the defendants moved to have the lawsuit dismissed because those are not legitimate causes of action in a civil lawsuit.
Aretakis agreed with that assessment and countermoved to have the court convert the lawsuit to a petition seeking the personnel records in advance of a lawsuit. He argued he needed the records to identify possible defendants for a lawsuit on behalf of the brothers Broderick is accused of molesting.
Aretakis further charged that Broderick had been setting up small "cults" in which he had people sign over to him titles to their personal property and agree to obey his orders. A member of the sex abuse victims' family is still involved with Broderick and the personnel records are necessary to help the family break free from the priest, the lawyer argued.
But DeJoseph said those were not valid reasons for granting discovery in advance of a lawsuit.
Jim O'Hara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-2260.
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