January 29, 2005

Court delays release of church records

Monterey Herald

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An appeals court Friday at least temporarily delayed a lower court's decision that the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles must give prosecutors its records about the counseling of priests accused of sexual abuse.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal halted the release of the records after archdiocese attorneys asked the panel to resolve two judges' opinions on the matter -- including one decision that would have required the archdiocese to give the records to Los Angeles County prosecutors on Friday. The defense motion was filed Tuesday.

In February 2003, a Ventura County Superior Court judge agreed that some documents in the personnel files of priests should remain confidential.

But Judge Thomas F. Nuss, a retired judge serving as a referee in the case, ordered the archdiocese in September 2004 to turn over certain records to prosecutors as part of a Los Angeles County grand jury investigation.

He said the church could withhold documents involving discussions between therapists and patients.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, said the ruling was disappointing.

Posted by kshaw at January 29, 2005 05:59 AM