February 16, 2005

Games Bishops Play: Why DA Bill Hill should be wary

The Dallas Morning News

10:07 PM CST on Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Diocese of Dallas has promised full cooperation with District Attorney Bill Hill as he moves forward with his investigation into the way it has handled sex-abuse allegations against priests.

No less should be expected, of course, as Mr. Hill combs through diocesan personnel files. But if this is to be a real investigation, then the district attorney must be realistic about the games bishops and their lawyers can play.

According to attorneys who have litigated church sex-abuse cases, some bishops seeking to hide incriminating documents have removed them from a priest's personnel file and had them stored at the diocesan lawyer's office. In cases like this, investigators who look solely at the personnel files will not find the smoking guns, which might have been holstered across town.

In a 2004 deposition in a sex-abuse civil suit, the Rev. George Crespin, former chancellor for the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., was asked why reports on seven or eight priests alleged to have engaged in sex with children did not go into the priests' personnel files. Replied Father Crespin, "That was the instruction we had from the lawyers."

Posted by kshaw at February 16, 2005 04:31 AM