Late yesterday, the California Second Appellate District Court ruled that Los Angeles Archdiocese officials cannot block the release of confidential priest files of 25 known, admitted, or jailed child molesting clerics.
The files were a part of the Archdiocese's 2007 $660 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of child sex abuse. Legal maneuverings by lawyers for the Archdiocese and the accused priests have held up the release of the files for five years.
We are thrilled that hundreds of pages of long-secret church records about pedophile priests will soon be released. Kids are safest when citizens know more, not less, about dangerous child molesters. The public will also be able to learn what church officials knew about predator clerics and when they knew it. That will help ensure some accountability and justice for people who recklessly put kids in danger.
It's heartbreaking that Catholic officials have succeeded for years in keeping this crucial information secret. The only people who benefit from this kind of legal wrangling are predators and the men and women who cover up for them. It's time for the LA Archdiocese to uphold its promises in the now-five-year-old settlement agreement with men and women who were so terribly hurt as children. Until then, how can we be sure that anything has changed in the Archdiocese?
The court decision is posted here