October 17, 2005

Center destroyed priest sex case records


By Robert Patrick

What might have been a rich lode of information on the background of abusive Catholic priests and religious brothers has been destroyed by a center in New Mexico where some of them had been sent for treatment.

The material was discarded, according to the head of the order that ran it, following policy and because of concern for medical privacy and storage space. The program was closed in 1995.

It is not clear whether litigants who clearly would have been eager to see contents of the files could have gotten access to them anyway.

One recurring question in the sex abuse scandal involving priests nationwide is whether the church recognized but hid predators and put them in circumstances where they could find new victims. The material once on file might have provided ammunition to press some lawsuits but perhaps to defend some as well. The Catholic Church and other religious orders have paid out sums approaching $1 billion for settlements and jury verdicts over cases alleging clergy sex abuse.

Posted by kshaw at October 17, 2005 08:18 AM