October 15, 2005

Lawyer for priest sex abuse victims wants church records in cases unsealed

Burlington Free Press

Published: Saturday, October 15, 2005

By Sam Hemingway
Free Press Staff Writer

The lawyer for 12 people who as youths claim they were sexually abused by Catholic priests in Vermont asked a Chittenden County Superior Court judge Friday to make public church records connected with eight of the victims' cases.

"There is no legitimate reason for the record to be kept confidential," attorney Jerome O'Neill told Judge Ben Joseph. "Times have changed." Confidentiality orders are imposed by a judge to protect an individual's privacy when the disclosure of personal information could be harmful or embarrassing.

O'Neill said past confidentiality orders, including one that covers four of the 12 cases he's filed since 2004, have made it harder to sort out the allegations and prevented victims from discussing and reviewing the information among themselves.

David Cleary, the lead attorney for the Burlington Roman Catholic diocese, told the court that unsealing the documents would jeopardize the priests' and the church's chances of getting a fair trial.

Posted by kshaw at October 15, 2005 07:39 AM