Supreme Court Rejects Another Diocese Appeal on Secret Abuse Records

By Daniel Tepfer
Connecticut Post
November 2, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court decision sets stage for release of child sex abuse documents

Documents detailing allegations of child sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport dating back four decades will be released after a Superior Court judge next week reviews procedures for making the information public.

The special proceeding in Waterbury, set for Monday, will determine how the records will be handled after the diocese lost its last appeal Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court as it sought to keep the documents secret.

Without comment, the nation's highest court refused to grant a writ of certiorari, which is an appeal by a losing party -- in this case, the diocese -- of a lower court ruling.

"We were disappointed to learn that the United States Supreme Court has decided not to hear our case," said Joseph McAleer, spokesman for the diocese. "We continue to believe that the constitutional issues presented, including the First Amendment rights of religious organizations and the privacy rights of all citizens, are significant and important for the Court to consider."

The state Supreme Court had previously refused to delay, pending appeal, the release of more than 12,000 pages from 23 lawsuits against six priests. That appeal is now dead.

"We're relieved that the public is one step closer to finally learning how much Cardinal Edward Egan knew and how little he did to stop child sex crimes when he was in Bridgeport," said Barbara Dorris, spokeswoman for SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, reacting to the Supreme Court action.

"We're just sorry Bishop (William) Lori has taken seven years and probably spent at least $100,000 donated by parishioners to protect himself and his colleagues instead of protecting kids."

In March 2001, the diocese agreed to pay about $15 million to two dozen people who claim they were abused by priests in the 1970s and early 1980s.

In May 2002, over the objections of the diocese, Waterbury Superior Court Judge Robert McWeeney ordered the files unsealed. That began a lengthy appeals process that ended Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court.


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