April 23, 2005

Supreme court rules for public disclosure of priest abuse records

Foster's Daily Democrat

Associated Press Writer

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Maine supreme court on Friday ruled that the state must make public investigative records about 18 now-deceased Roman Catholic priests who were accused of sexual abuse of minors.

In a split decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 that the attorney general must release the files to Blethen Maine Newspapers, owner of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel newspapers.

However, the names and identifying information of family members, friends and others associated with the cases must be removed from the records when they are released.

Justices struggled with balancing the public interest in the priest sexual abuse scandal with privacy concerns for witnesses, family members and sexual abuse victims through the decades.

“On balance, the identified public interest exceeds the privacy interests associated with the records once they are redacted,” Justice Jon Levy wrote for himself, Howard Dana and Susan Calkins. Chief Justice Leigh Saufley concurred in a separate opinion.

Posted by kshaw at April 23, 2005 08:39 AM