April 18, 2006

Mahony Must Give D.A. Files

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione and William Lobdell, Times Staff Writers
April 18, 2006

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, rebuffed Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court in his request to keep two accused priests' personnel files private, now must turn those documents over to a grand jury and face the growing possibility that he may soon be forced to relinquish more confidential church records involving alleged sexual abuse.

Attorneys for the Los Angeles archbishop had argued that all communication between a bishop and his priests including that about allegations of sexual abuse and resulting investigations was protected under the 1st Amendment. In declining to hear his case, the Supreme Court effectively let stand a California appellate court decision that rejected the constitutional claim.

This was good news for prosecutors, who said their inability to view such confidential records had hampered their investigation of two priests. The documents initially will remain part of secret grand jury proceedings but could become public later in criminal court.

"This will send a message that these sorts of records, this sort of information is not something they can keep secret and away from a lawful prosecution," said Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley. "We're entitled to go get the evidence where the evidence exists."

Church officials called the court's decision disappointing.

Posted by kshaw at April 18, 2006 06:50 AM