Victims Call on Church to Release More Docs

By Paul Krueger
NBC San Diego
October 25, 2010

[with video]

Despite the release of thousands of documents, child molestation victims are urging the Catholic Church to release even more records connected to the sex abuse scandal.

The local Catholic diocese, however, says it has done all it can on this emotional issue.

The diocese and lawyers for the victims have now released 10,000 pages of documents detailing abuse and coverups. The nearly previously sealed Catholic Church documents show that the Diocese of San Diego long knew about abusive priests, some of whom were shuffled from parish to parish despite credible complaints against them.

After a three-year legal battle over the diocese's internal records, a retired San Diego Superior Court judge ruled late Friday that they could be made public. Attorneys for 144 people claiming sex abuse made the papers public Sunday.

Bishop Robert Brom's critics, though, argue that he must do more.

"My parents asked me for a long time, 'What's going on with you, Jim?' " said Jim Whitman. "And I hid it from them. I hid it from my parents."

Whitman is adding his name to the more than 140 victims whose trauma is outlined in church documents, including the personnel files of 48 priests who were either credibly accused or convicted of sexual abuse, or named in civil lawsuits.

The papers were made public three years after the diocese paid the victims nearly $200 million to settle their cases. Now, though, the victims are claiming that the full story won't be told until the diocese releases another 2,000 pages of internal documents.

"So that Catholics and citizens can know the truth, and so that parents and parishoners can protect their children," said David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priest.

"The damages are immense, the damages are for a life time, and most of us don't survive," said Pau Livingston, who is also associated with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priest.

The diocese indicated it will not release any more files. In a statement issued on Monday, a spokesperson said, "The Diocese of San Diego has voluntarily complied with all aspects of the global [legal] settlement reached in 2007."

That statement also expresses hope that abuse victims will quote "continue on the path toward healing and reconciliation."

The release of records is biggest so far in a U.S. church case, said Terry McKiernan, founder of the website Bishop The website collects and publishes internal church papers that have been released as the result of litigation on clergy abuse nationwide.

"I think as we absorb this, it will shed a lot of light on these issues. It's amazingly rich," McKiernan said. "These documents are providing a window into the California experience that we haven't had before."

In at least one instance, the files included documented abuse by a priest whose name had not before surfaced in any lawsuit or criminal case, the Rev. Luis Eugene de Francisco, who was originally from Colombia. Police investigated de Francisco for allegedly abusing children, but the diocese convinced authorities to drop the case if the priest would return immediately to his Colombian diocese and never return to the U.S.

Source: Victims Call on Church to Release More Docs | NBC San Diego


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