Thursday, August 26, 2010

Judges seals records in priest sex abuse lawsuit

Judges seals records in priest sex abuse lawsuit
By Edith Brady-Lunny AND WEEK.COM Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 5:34 pm

PEORIA -- The deposition of a former Catholic bishop will not be released, but a lawyer intends to continue his fight to open records about allegations of sexual abuse.

Peoria County Judge Joseph Vespa granted a request by the Diocese of Peoria to keep records confidential. He did allow Jeff Anderson, the Minnesota attorney for alleged victim Andrew Ward, to go through some documents to identify materials he believes should be available.

Ward, who agreed to have his name publicly used, has a pending civil lawsuit against the diocese. He accuses now-deceased Monsignor Thomas Maloney of molesting him when Ward was a second-grader at Epiphany Grade School in Normal.

Ward, now 22, lives in Michigan. The diocese previously has denied the allegations but has not responded to recent requests for comment.

"For now, there is a protective order, but the judge gave us the chance to carve out exceptions to it," said Anderson.

Among the records is the deposition of former Peoria Bishop John Myers, who in 2001 became archbishop of Newark, N.J. Anderson also wants to depose current Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky.

On Wednesday, diocese lawyer Joseph Feehan argued Anderson's plan to remove names of alleged victims from court records does not go far enough to protect their identities. Dates, locations and other details could provide clues substantial enough to identify the former students, he said.

The effort by the diocese to maintain secrecy of the records is contrary to recent Vatican statements calling for an end to child sex crimes by the clergy, said David Clohessy, executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

A Nov. 5 case management hearing is scheduled in the lawsuit.

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