Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Evidence destroyed
SNAP Claims Green Bay Bishop Ordered Pedophile Clergy Records Destroyed
Updated: Dec 22, 2010 12:38 AM
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Catholic Diocese Responds to Claims of Order to Destroy RecordsBy Kristin Byrne

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) claims the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay could have destroyed documents in some pedophile priest cases.

The advocacy group is now calling for a federal investigation of possible obstruction of justice by former Bishop David Zubik, current Bishop David Ricken, or other diocesan officials.

At a news conference at the federal courthouse in downtown Green Bay, SNAP leaders presented a deposition to a federal attorney, detailing allegations of wrongdoing by the diocese.

According to SNAP and that document, during a court deposition a top Green Bay church official, Father James Doerfler, talked about a standing order issued by former Bishop Zubik in 2007 to destroy secret files about pedophile clergy.

"Since 2007, documentation records, psychological reports, assessments, investigations, correspondences with the Holy See concerning an unknown number of clergy from this diocese that have sexually assaulted children," Peter Isely of SNAP claimed.

SNAP officials want federal attorneys to investigate possible obstruction of justice, citing what Doerfler allegedly told a court.

"You're destroying anything related not just to the conduct of the priest, his misconduct, his criminal acts but you're also destroying what his managers and his bishop did about the knowledge that was coming in and being reported to the senior management of the diocese about his criminal acts," Isely said.

"When you're destroying anything related to that -- records, witnesses, he says if there was like phone numbers of people that's all gone he says from the file -- that means you can't track down witnesses, you can't track down victims," he said.

The Green Bay diocese attended the news conference to defend itself, and told us the allegations are awful to hear.

The diocese explained because of federal HIPPA laws it can't keep psychological reports of priests in personnel files.

Deacon Tim Reilly also said Bishop Zubik signed a record retention policy that applies to all diocesan documents -- a year before this standing order is alleged to be made.

"In 2006 the diocese issued a 146-page document that covered all diocesan departments. All files of every department are covered in this 146-page document. This was not done just to deal with clergy files; this was a matter of good management," Reilly said.

"Our record retention policy clearly states that no documents are destroyed if there is pending litigation. That practice and policy has been completely adhered to," he said.

In court testimony, Deacon Reilly explained the diocese generally keeps a priest's file indefinitely but that documents can be destroyed in accordance with the record retention policy.

"What is absolutely surprising is the statement of Green Bay bishops issued a standing order to destroy evidence. I mean, I'm sorry, that's just an awful thing for anybody to be saying unless they have an awful lot of facts behind them to really support a statement like that," Reilly said.

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