February 24, 2006

Judge to open church records


12:00 AM CST on Friday, February 24, 2006
By BROOKS EGERTON / The Dallas Morning News

A Tarrant County judge agreed Thursday to unseal some Fort Worth Catholic Diocese records about several priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children.

State District Judge Len Wade acted at the request of The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The newspapers argued that the records were public because the diocese had surrendered them during litigation with alleged victims of one priest.

Judge Wade oversaw that litigation which ended last year with a $4.15 million settlement and had sealed the records at the diocese's request.

Church representatives didn't respond to questions about Thursday's decision, although the judge indicated that he expected an appeal. Releasing the records would violate the priests' privacy rights and chill the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion, church attorneys have argued.

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2006 07:43 AM