November 18, 2005

Prosecutors win access to clergy files


Friday, November 18, 2005; Posted: 8:11 a.m. EST (13:11 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- California's Supreme Court has upheld an appeals court ruling that forces the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese to turn over the personnel files of two former priests accused of molestation.

The ruling issued Wednesday is the latest development in a battle between the Los Angeles County district attorney, who subpoenaed the private files three years ago, and the archdiocese.

Archbishop Roger Mahony has argued that opening the files would violate the church's constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Donald Steier, an attorney for the former priests, said he was considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling means prosecutors could scour personnel files for evidence that could result in criminal charges against additional clergy and possibly even Mahony himself.

Posted by kshaw at November 18, 2005 07:45 AM