Court addresses archdiocese’s concerns regarding disclosure order

| January 3, 2014

At a Jan. 3 court hearing seeking clarification of a judge’s order to disclose all accusations of clergy sexual abuse of a minor made known to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis after 2004, the deadline for the disclosure was extended to Feb. 5.

Last month, Judge John Van de North had set a Jan. 6 deadline for the disclosure to be made to the Ramsey County District Court. The archdiocese sought clarification at the hearing out of concern the order would require the disclosure of accusations that proved to be false.

During the hearing, the judge “considered the reasonable need for potential third-party review of claims that could be false or frivolous,” the archdiocese said in a statement Jan. 3. “The archdiocese is grateful to the Court for considering the importance of avoiding needless damage to the reputations of clergy members who have been falsely accused.”

The hearing was related to a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit filed in 2009 against the archdiocese and Diocese of Winona. Judge Van de North told lawyers for both the archdiocese and the alleged victim to file proposals for how to handle potentially false accusations.

“The archdiocese looks forward to working with the Court and all affected parties to promote the protection of children and the healing of victims as we also address these reasonable concerns,” the archdiocese said.

Last month, the archdiocese released the names of 33 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors in the archdiocese and whose names appeared on a list originally compiled by the archdiocese in 2003 to fulfill a request by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which published a national study of clergy sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002. The disclosure also included Curtis Weh­meyer, a cleric who was criminally convicted of sexual abuse of a minor last year.

In November, the archdiocese hired Kinsale Management Consulting to conduct a third-party review of clergy files to help ensure a comprehensive approach to address clergy sexual misconduct. The archdiocese said disclosures will be made on an ongoing basis as the review of files continues and as further credible claims are made known.

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