Ruling Slows Man's Suit Vs. Archdiocese of Miami

By Susan Spencer-Wendel
Palm Beach Post
November 19, 2008

WEST PALM BEACH — An appeals court ruled Wednesday that the names of alleged victims of sex abuse involved in lawsuits against a Catholic archdiocese should not have to be disclosed to another victim seeking them as part of his own suit.

The 4th District Court of Appeal overturned in part a lower court decision that allowed plaintiff Kevin Sidaway of Lake Worth access to the names of people who sued under initials or pseudonyms like "John Doe." A three-judge panel ruled that a lower court could, though, require the Archdiocese of Miami to identify all the cases so Sidaway could review the files and contact the victims' attorneys.

Sidaway and his attorneys couldn't be reached for comment. Sidaway, 52, has said he was molested in the 1960s while an altar boy at a church in Boynton Beach, then a part of the Archdiocese of Miami.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Mary Ross Agosta, called the ruling a "clear understanding for the need for privacy" for sexual abuse victims.

"Whenever the topic arises, we are always encouraging victims of abuse to notify officials," she said. "If we cannot provide the privacy that we have been able to, it might prevent other victims from coming forward."

Sidaway settled a case in late 1997 where he alleged the archdiocese was negligent in retaining his abuser, the now-deceased Rev. Rocco D'Angelo, and it intentionally covered up the abuse. The settlement was for an undisclosed amount and included provisions Sidaway said were needed to protect children.

Sidaway then sued again in 2002 after sex scandals erupted throughout the Catholic Church. He sought damages for fraudulent inducement, alleging the archdiocese had not instituted reforms he was assured of before his settlement. That case is now set for trial in the spring.


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