Former Priest Seeks to Muffle Lawyers
Defendant Wants Papers in Abuse Lawsuit Sealed, Too

By Kevin Murphy
Kansas City Star
December 18, 2003

A former Kansas City priest accused of sexually abusing two minors has asked a judge to restrict comments of plaintiffs' lawyers in the case and to seal certain evidence.

Francis McGlynn's attorney said in recent court documents that lawyers for the plaintiffs were using the media to put out information that might be "unsubstantiated, untrue and inadmissible at trial."

Francis Scheuring and Teresa White filed separate lawsuits in Jackson County in October contending that McGlynn sexually abused them at St. Mary's church in Independence in the early 1970s. McGlynn, who is no longer allowed to act as a priest, denied the charges.

Rebecca Randles, lawyer for both of the accusers, held news conferences with them on the courthouse steps to announce the lawsuits, which named McGlynn, 76, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as defendants.

In the recent motions, lawyer James Wyrsch, representing McGlynn, asked the judge in the case to prohibit Randles or other parties from making comments on the case. Wyrsch said some of the comments went beyond what was alleged in the suit.

"This case involves highly personal matters regarding the private lives of individuals involved in this case, as well as individuals not named as parties in this case," the motion states

"We are entitled to a fair trial," Wyrsch said in an interview.

Randles has made a motion for an extension of time to respond to McGlynn, but she said Tuesday that she had not made comments about the lawsuit in violation of rules established by the state Supreme Court, as Wyrsch contends.

"It says you can talk about the investigation, and so far that is all we've talked about," Randles said. "By virtue of having the press conferences, we've had a number of witnesses step forward. I think the press, especially in an important issue like this, carries a big role."

McGlynn has also filed motions to seal material that may be obtained through the discovery phase, such as depositions and written documents. The motions said McGlynn and other defendants should be protected from "annoyance, embarrassment or oppression." Randles also opposes that motion.

McGlynn's move to suppress comments and seal evidence in the case drew fire Wednesday from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which has been critical of the Catholic Church for covering up past sexual abuse by priests.

"As we have seen time and time again, the emphasis is on protecting the priest's reputation rather than getting the facts out," said Barbara Blaine, the group's president, in a news release

The diocese said it did not learn about any allegations against McGlynn until April 2002, when White came forward. She said he had abused her at age 17 in catechism classes.

The diocese investigated her 2002 complaint and told McGlynn in July 2002 he could no longer present himself as a priest.


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