|Court Rules on Friars" Records Public in Sex Cases; SNAP Responds
October 1, 2010
In a nutshell, this is a victory for children. It will help expose wrongdoers who ignored and concealed horrific crimes against kids. And it will deter such recklessness and callousness in the future.
It's mean-spirited and wrong to claim this is about retribution. It isn’t. It's about making sure that citizens and Catholics know which current and former Catholic officials put youngsters in harm's way. And hopefully, it's about getting those irresponsible men out of positions of power - whether in the church or elsewhere - so they can't do it again.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Court rules on friars' records public in sex cases
By GILLIAN FLACCUS (AP)
LOS ANGELES — A California appeals court ruled Thursday that psychiatric and other confidential records of Franciscan friars accused of sex abuse should be made public.
The ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal is significant for clergy abuse victims who have been fighting for the public disclosure of records that the Roman Catholic church kept of abusive clergy.
The ruling arose from lawsuits filed against the Franciscan Friars of California Inc. by 25 plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse at the hands of friars.
Those plaintiffs settled for $28 million in 2006, but the settlement agreement also sought the release of records on six of the friars.
The trial judge found the social interests of protecting children from molestation outweighed the privacy rights of the friars, who then appealed the decision to make their psychiatric, medical and other records public.
An attorney representing the friars said Thursday's ruling robs the church — or any other organization dealing with children — of a way to find out if abuse is taking place without threatening the suspected abuser.
Priests or other employees who are molesting children may no longer discuss their crimes with a therapist or doctor because those records could now be made public, said Robert Howie, who represents the individual friars.
"Discovery of this type of behavior is aided by the use of these confidential inquiries and psychotherapy, and that's been basically gutted by the appellate court here," he said.
"I appreciate the fact that these past victims want their retribution. What I think the court is doing is focusing on that anger and that desire for retribution."
Howie said it was too early to say if the friars would petition to have the case heard by the state's high court.
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com )
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