Lawsuit Forcing Diocese of Pittsburgh to Release Documents Can Move Forward, Judge Says
A lawsuit that would force a Pennsylvania diocese to release all its records related to sexual abuse of children can move forward, a judge has ruled. We applaud this ruling and the precedent it sets and hope that others across the country will force their own dioceses to release records to the public as well.
The ruling by Judge Christine Ward in the lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is an unprecedented one that means private citizens can force institutions to prove that they are compliant with state laws regarding reporting abuse and protecting children. This is an important step forward in the fight to force transparency on an institution that has for so long been opaque in its dealings with cases of child sexual abuse.
We applaud the plaintiffs, Ryan O’Connor and Kristen Hancock, as well as their attorneys Benjamin Sweet and Timothy Hale, for bringing this case forward. Thanks to them, there is now yet another chance for parishioners and the public to learn the full truth about the scope and history of sexual violence that has been covered-up and minimized by Catholic officials for decades.
This is yet another example of secular officials and the justice system forcing change and transparency that has long been promised – but failed to be delivered – by institutions. We hope that other survivors, parents, and parishioners around the country will be inspired by this ruling to act against institutions in their own backyard that have been less than forthcoming about cases of sexual abuse. Courts, not words from church officials, are the best pathway to true change.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)