April 13, 2005

Release of church records fought

Orange County Register

The Orange County Register

The dioceses of Orange and Los Angeles are now agreeing to release details from the files of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse while some of the priests themselves are hiring lawyers to keep the documents secret.

Earlier this year, the Diocese of Orange paid $100 million to settle abuse claims by 94 plaintiffs, and Bishop Tod Brown agreed that the church would not oppose the release of their personnel files. That was a linchpin of the settlement agreement.

But in the past weeks, eight people accused of sexual abuse in Orange County have asked a judge to block the release of documents.

The eight include the Rev. Richard Delahunty, the only priest accused of abuse who is still in active ministry in Orange County; former priest Michael Harris, a popular high school principal accused of abuse by a dozen former students; and Thomas Hodgman, a music teacher accused of impregnating a student.

The diocese has apologized and paid money to all the victims. But the settlement was not a legal adjudication of guilt. Lawyers for the diocese have said they believed some cases were not well-founded.

Posted by kshaw at April 13, 2005 06:54 AM