November 16, 2005

AG must share abuse files on priests

Times Argus

November 16, 2005

By Kevin O'Connor Rutland Herald

A judge has ordered the state Attorney General's Office to share its priest misconduct files with a lawyer suing Vermont's Catholic Church.

Burlington attorney Jerome O'Neill has filed civil lawsuits in Chittenden Superior Court on behalf of 13 clients charging five former Vermont priests with child sexual abuse.

As part of the lawsuits, O'Neill asked the court to require the Attorney General's Office and the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington to share their paperwork about alleged priest misconduct.

Superior Court Judge Ben Joseph has yet to rule whether the diocese must turn over its files. But in a decision this week, the judge has ordered the Attorney General's Office to give O'Neill most of its findings, stating "the release of these materials to the plaintiff is clearly in the 'public interest.'"

The documents include transcripts of interviews with people claiming priest misconduct; correspondence between the Attorney General's Office, the diocese and clergy; and church personnel files obtained by the state during its ongoing investigation of sexual abuse charges spanning a half century.

Posted by kshaw at November 16, 2005 07:23 AM