Supreme Court Rejects Bridgeport Diocese's Appeal

The New York Times has the story

The United States Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport to delay the court-ordered release of thousands of legal documents from lawsuits filed against priests accused of child sex abuse.

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The decision leaves few options for the diocese after a seven-year tug-of-war with four newspapers, including The New York Times, over the release of more than 12,000 pages of depositions and church records.

The diocese still has another request before the court, asking the justices to hear arguments that release of the records would violate the First Amendment rights accorded to religious groups. But such a hearing appears unlikely after the court’s refusal on Monday, in a single-sentence ruling, to stay a lower-court order that the records be unsealed.

A spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese said in a statement: “We are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to extend the stay. For more than a decade, the Catholic Church in Bridgeport has addressed the issue of clergy sexual abuse compassionately and comprehensively. For now, however, the serious threat to the First Amendment rights of all churches and the rightful privacy of all litigants remain in jeopardy because of the decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. This, indeed, is regrettable."

The records were obtained by plaintiffs in 23 lawsuits filed against the diocese and seven of its priests in the 1990s, during the tenure of Bishop Edward M. Egan, who was later named the archbishop of New York. They were sealed in 2001 after the diocese reached settlements with the plaintiffs, former altar boys and youth group members who said they were molested by priests in the 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s.

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9 years ago
How many dollars were spent by Bridgeport diocese for 8 years of delaying what any junior high student would tell you is a losing argument? At 400+ dollars an hour ...maybe 1-3 million? More? Will they tell? h-l no!
Phew!
9 years ago
111 views and O comments. That says it all. We are all exhausted.
9 years ago
Thank you, Fr. Martin, for starting this thread, as it provides an opportunity to rebut Lori’s dishonest claims of First Amendment rights being threatened. That is an old, tired argument still waved about in what is a clever effort to imply that bishops can violate criminal laws that bind everyone else - because adherence impinges on their right to live their faith by being as negligent as they want in supervising sexual predators.
 
What Lori chooses to overlook is that the First Amendment protects religious belief, NOT illegal conduct. Bishops who criminally endangered children, obstructed justice, perjured the truth, were accessories after the fact, and so on, cannot claim immunity from neutral laws to keep children safe.  (Many already escaped prosecution through statutes of limitation.) A PA judge ruled that survivor lawsuits involve “not an attack on the freedom to believe, but rather an attack on the freedom to act contrary to the law.”
 
A RI Supreme Court justice ruled, “sexual abuse of children (is) not remotely related to ecclesiastical rules or religion itself…[size= 10pt] [/size]The conduct sought to be regulated ... is not rooted in religious belief.” Moreover, religious motivations around forgiveness and redemption are not free passes to disobey criminal law.
 
In Boston, a church legal expert submitted a brief quoting from St. Augustine and the bible to reinforce his argument  that ''Some of the greatest leaders in church history are, as the church would say, redeemed sinners, but as our civil justice might say, former criminals.” The judge rejected Bernard Law’s claim for sweeping immunity for the archdiocese, opening the floodgates.
 
Carolyn Disco
Survivor Support Chairman
NH Voice of the Faithful

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