November 04, 2005

High court says newspapers can intervene in abuse settlement

Stamford Advocate

Associated Press

Published November 4 2005

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that newspapers can ask for documents related to the Bridgeport Diocese's settlement of priest abuse cases but left it up to a lower court to decide whether to release them.

Attorneys for The Hartford Courant, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Boston Globe argued that the public has a constitutional right under the First Amendment to see the records.

They say the sealing orders expired when the diocese settled the lawsuits in 2001.

"Although the newspapers' interest in the withdrawn cases is limited in the sense that they do not have, and never have had, a stake in the outcome of those cases, they, and the public, do have a legitimate interest in the contents of the court's files," Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote for the 3-2 majority.

The thousands of documents stem from 23 lawsuits against six priests spanning the late 1960s to the early 1990s. Most of the alleged victims were altar boys or belonged to church youth organizations.

Posted by kshaw at November 4, 2005 08:16 PM