San Diego: Attorneys for nearly 150 people who claim sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests have released thousands of pages of previously sealed internal church documents that detail complaints against the clerics and include medical records and correspondence between priests and their superiors.
A retired San Diego Superior Court judge ruled late Friday that roughly 10,000 pages of internal records could be made public after a years-long legal battle with the Diocese of San Diego. The records are from the personnel files of 48 priests who were either credibly accused or convicted of sexual abuse or were named in a civil lawsuit.
The 144 plaintiffs settled with the diocese in 2007 for nearly USD 200 million, but the agreement stipulated that an independent judge would review the priests' sealed personnel records and determine what could be made public.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs said yesterday the files show how much the diocese knew about abusive priests, starting decades before any allegations became public, and that some church leaders shuffled priests from parish to parish or overseas despite credible complaints against them.
Donna Daly, a spokeswoman for the diocese, did not immediately return a call on yesterday.
The papers contain documents from the files of Rev Anthony Rodrigue. In 1976, a group of parents at Rodrigue's parish in Heber, California, complained he had molested their children, according to court documents.
The priest was sent to a psychiatric facility in Massachusetts for treatment but was put back in ministry despite the recommendations of those who treated him.
Rodrigue later admitted he had molested up to six children a year over a span of about 25 years, said Irwin Zalkin, an attorney for the plaintiffs. About 30 people filed lawsuits against the diocese alleging sexual abuse against the priest, who died within the last year, he said.
First Published: Monday, October 25, 2010, 10:17