Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Diocese attempts to seal records in alleged B-N sex abuse suit

Diocese attempts to seal records in alleged B-N sex abuse suit

By Edith Brady-Lunny
PEORIA -- Information related to allegations of sexual abuse may be kept under wraps if a Peoria judge grants a request by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria to seal the records.

Andrew Ward, now 22, a former student at Epiphany Grade School in Normal, filed a lawsuit in 2008 against the diocese and now-deceased Msgr. Thomas Maloney. The priest, whose service included assignments at parishes in Bloomington, Normal and Lexington, was accused of sexually abusing Ward when he was about eight years old.

No criminal charges were filed against Maloney, 73, who died in August 2009. The lawsuit is still pending against the diocese. Ward has agreed to be publicly identified in the lawsuit and by the news media.

In a motion filed July 21, the diocese asks that the deposition of former Peoria Bishop John Myers and other records be sealed. Myers, who was named archbishop of Newark, N.J. in 2001, was interviewed May 12 by Ward's attorney, Jeff Anderson, of Minnesota.

Church attorneys also want to keep closed the anticipated deposition of Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky and other materials exchanged during the discovery phase of the litigation.

Peoria attorney Joseph Feehan argues on behalf of the diocese that it is standard practice for discovery materials to be kept confidential between lawyers. He maintains that some of the records name third parties not directly involved in the lawsuit.

Nothing would prevent Ward or his lawyers "from posting documents, deposition testimony, photographs or other information on the internet for unrestricted public review," argued the diocese.

Patricia Gibson, diocese chancellor, was unavailable Tuesday to comment on the case.

"Our argument is that the public interest is served by disseminating this information," Anderson said Tuesday.

In court documents, Anderson claims that a protective order poses a health and safety risk to children by keeping the names of potential abusers secret.

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