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Judge Orders Archdiocese To Release Records

Archdiocese of St. Louis chancery.
(St. Louis Public Radio)
Archdiocese of St. Louis chancery.

Updated Jan. 13, 2014:

The legal back-and-forth over the release of the names to the plaintiff continues. The state Supreme Court today blocked the Archdiocese from having to comply with Dierker’s order until further notice.

Updated Jan. 10, 2014:

In a one-page order released today, Judge Dierker ordered the Archdiocese to release the requested items by 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13. The Archdiocese already plans to appeal a ruling from Judge Glenn Norton that ordered Dierker to set the new deadline.

Updated Jan. 9, 2014:

The Missouri Court of Appeals has denied the Archdiocese's request to permanently block the release of the records to the plaintiff, and ordered Judge Robert Dierker to set a new deadline for releasing the information.

Judge Glenn A. Norton wrote in his two-page order that the Archdiocese of St. Louis, "while deserving due respect, must be treated the same as any other litigant." 


Norton also wrote thatDierker's Dec. 31 order properly addressed privacy concerns, and that the information requested by the plaintiff was relevant to her case.

In an emailed statement, the Archdiocese said it would immediately appeal Judge Norton's decision.

"The Archdiocese attempted to limit the scope of the order to protect the privacy rights of all involved, including victim who had never expressed desire to be part of public litigation," the statement continued. "The fact that the appeal was initially granted shows how difficult this issue is for all involved, the parties and the courts. We respect the trial court’s efforts to build mechanisms to address these challenging issues, but we continue to disagree that an unprecedented invasion of third parties’ lives is warranted."

Updated Jan. 3, 2014:

The Missouri Court of Appeals has granted the Archdiocese a delay in releasing the information to the plaintiff.

"Judge Dierker's 13-page Order clearly shows that these are very complicated issues," the Archdiocese said in a statement. "[We] will continue to work within the judicial process toward a resolution to this lawsuit which is rooted in the truth and fairness to all involved."

In his own statement, David Clohessy, the director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, called it "sad" that Archbishop Robert Carlson would continue to spend the "generous donations of his flock to pay lawyers, protect predators, endanger kids, maintain secrecy and cause more delays for the brave 20 year old woman who was sexually assaulted by a priest and is seeking justice."

Our earlier story:

A judge is giving the Archdiocese of St. Louis until Friday to turn over documents requested in a sexual abuse case or face sanctions.

In a ruling Tuesday, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Robert Dierker ordered the limited release of the names and locations of clergy proven, admitted or credibly accused of child sex abuse in the diocese.

The records, which will not be made public, pertain to a suit claiming the diocese intentionally failed to protect a young girl who was abused by formerly convicted priest Joseph Ross.

Ross was later defrocked by the Roman Catholic Church.

Dierker’s order is narrower in scope than what was originally requested by the prosecution six months ago, by excluding non-clergy records.

Yet David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says the ruling is important because it is critical for victims to prove they were put in harm’s way.

"It’s not enough just to say 'this priest molested this girl,'" Clohessy said. "The girl also has to prove that church officials knew he was dangerous, put him in her parish without warning anybody and did this kind of deceitful maneuver time and time and time again."

Dierker’s order also creates a special master to oversee the process of the disclosure of the documents.

The archdiocese must pay for that special master, as well as the attorney fees connected to discovery of the records.

In a statement a spokesman with the archdiocese said officials would review the court order. 

The court trial for the case is scheduled for next month.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.
Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.