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L.A. Now Live: Names in archdiocese sex abuse files to be released

January 8, 2013 |  8:23 am

Citing the public's right to know how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles handled child sex abuse allegations, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge reversed a ruling by a private mediator and ordered the redacted names of archdiocesan employees to be released.

Times reporter Harriet Ryan will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss Judge Emilie H. Elias' ruling and what may be in the 30,000-page cache of internal archdiocese records, which are set for public release in coming weeks.

The live chat is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Elias reversed a private mediator's decision that the names of archdiocese employees should be redacted from the documents to avoid further embarrassment to the church and "guilt by association."

Elias said the public's right to know how the largest Roman Catholic archdiocese in the nation handled molestation allegations outweighed such concerns. She also reversed the ruling of the mediator, retired federal Judge Dickran Tevrizian, that priests who had faced a single allegation of abuse would have their names blacked out.

"Don't you think the public has a right to know … what was going on in their own church?" she asked a lawyer for the archdiocese. She said that parishioners who learn from the files that a priest was accused of abuse in their local church "may want to talk to their adult children" about their own experiences.

The records — confidential personnel files that include psychiatric records, investigative reports, parents' letters of complaint and Vatican correspondence — are being released as part of a 2007 settlement between the archdiocese and more than 500 victims.

Lawyers for the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press had filed court papers arguing that the names of the hierarchy were essential for the public to understand how the scandal occurred. More than 200 priests were accused of abuse stretching back decades and the church, its insurers and others paid more than $720 million to settle claims.

The timing of the files' release is unclear. Hennigan said church lawyers might have to revisit every page of the records to restore the names of archdiocesan officials, a process that could take months. Lawyers for the church, the alleged victims and the media are to work out procedures for the release in coming days.