July 26, 2005

Appeals cout says LA archdiocese must turn over clergy files to grand jury

Monterey Herald

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - A state appellate court has ordered Cardinal Roger Mahony to turn over internal church records of two former priests accused of sexually abusing children to a grand jury.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal on Monday upheld a previous judge's decision that the church documents involving allegations of clergy sexual abuse should be released to the grand jury. The three-judge panel rejected arguments by the Los Angeles Archdiocese that it was constitutionally protected from having to disclose documents from Roman Catholic priest personnel files.

"While it is true the right to religious freedom holds a special place in our history and culture, there also must be an accommodation by religious believers and institutions to the rules of civil society, particularly when the state's compelling interest in protecting children is in question," Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein wrote in a 49-page opinion. Justices Walter Croskey and Patti Kitching concurred.

Prosecutors were encouraged by the panel's ruling.

Posted by kshaw at July 26, 2005 07:10 AM