February 24, 2006

Judge agrees to unseal records of priests in sex-abuse cases

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas - A Tarrant County judge has agreed to release some church documents concerning six priests accused of sexual abuse.
State District Judge Len Wade said Thursday that he will first review the 600 pages of records to remove information identifying the accusers and church lay workers. He also said he will withhold information related to the priests' health and finances.
The records of the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese were sealed last year as part of a lawsuit. In that suit, two men accused the Rev. Thomas Teczar of abusing them in Ranger when they were boys in the 1990s. The diocese settled the case last year for $4.15 million, but denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, and Teczar continues to assert his innocence.
The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram requested that the diocesan records be unsealed. They argued that the records were public because the diocese had surrendered them during the Teczar case.
Paul Watler, an attorney for the newspapers, said the judge's decision was an important ruling "in favor of public disclosure."

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2006 07:01 AM