Priest files in child sex abuse cases to include key names
The church had agreed to make public the personnel files of 89 priests accused of sexually abusing children as part of a 2007 court settlement. Fourteen files were released last week in ongoing civil litigation.
Those files showed Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his chief advisor on abuse, Msgr. Thomas Curry, plotted to hide the sexual abuse of children from police in the 1980s.
This week, church lawyers submitted papers to the Los Angeles County Superior Court judge overseeing the release of the remaining, much larger batch of files. They proposed the archdiocese be allowed to hand over the documents with the names of top church officials removed.
Attorneys for victims and the media criticized the legal maneuver, saying it flouted a previous ruling by Judge Emilie H. Elias that the public was entitled to the information.
But by Wednesday afternoon, the church had rejected its own plan. An attorney for the archdiocese said in an interview it was committed to including "the names, clearly legible, every one of them."
In January, The Times and the Associated Press asked Elias to overrule a private mediator who had said the names of archdiocese employees should be redacted.
Dickran Tevrizian, a retired judge hired to hammer out the details of the release, said the church had suffered enough criticism for the abuse scandal and its employees should not be subjected to the "guilt by association" that might accompany being named in the files.
Elias overturned Tevrizian's decision, saying the public had a right to the identities of church officials who dealt with abusers "to understand how this happened and ... to watch for the future."
She said that between the privacy rights of the hierarchy and "the public's right to know, there seems to be no comparison."
"Those names ought to be included," the judge told lawyers.
-- Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan
Photo: Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, shown in 2010, was the archbishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese from 1985 until 2011. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times