A judge on Monday ordered the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to turn over the names of upper level church officials identified in internal church documents that deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias’ order reverses part of a 2011 ruling by retired Judge Dickran Tevrizian, who said he feared including the names of the hierarchy could be used to embarrass the church further.
Elias said the public’s right to know how the archdiocese, the largest in the nation, handled molestation allegations outweighed such concerns. She also reversed retired Tevrizian’s ruling that priests who had faced only a single allegation of abuse would have their names blacked out, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The archdiocese announced that it would comply with the court ruling.
“Judge Elias revised the Tevrizian order acknowledging that much of the information in question has already been made public by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in the 2004 Report to the People of God and in the subsequent proffers,” according to the diocese. “The archdiocese will abide by Judge Elias’ decision. We are now working with all parties involved to facilitate the release of the documents as promptly as possible.”
The judge and lawyers for alleged victims and the archdiocese met this afternoon to discuss how and when the internal church records, which include psychiatric reports, reports of abuse and letters to the Vatican, will be released, according to The Times.
The Times and Associated Press filed court papers objecting to Tevrizian’s ruling that all names of church employees, including Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top archdiocese officials, be crossed out in the documents before they were made public.
Members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a clergy abuse support group, applauded the judge’s decision.
“We’re thrilled and grateful that a California judge is refusing to protect corrupt Catholic officials by keeping long-secret and long-promised church abuse records hidden any longer,” according to a statement from the group. “For decades, the Los Angeles Catholic hierarchy has successfully kept under wraps thousands of pages of incriminating documents. Because of the courage and tenacity of hundreds of victims, that will soon end. And children will be safer as a result.”
The group said the action will achieve three SNAP goals.
“First, it will help bring some measure of healing and closure to the hundreds of LA area clergy sex abuse victims who demanded and fought for these records,” according to the SNAP statement. “Second, it will help protect kids by letting the public know which current and former Catholic staff chose to side with predators and against kids. And third, it will help prevent future child sex crimes and cover ups by showing officials in many institutions that it’s increasingly difficult to intimidate victims, witnesses and whistleblowers into staying silent about known and suspected child sex crimes.”