Diocese Warns about Disclosing Abuse

Cincinnati Enquirer [Cleveland OH]
Downloaded February 11, 2003

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Roman Catholic Diocese has warned a prosecutor not to release information about 145 priests accused of sexual abuse, a newspaper reported.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason said many priests were not indicted in a grand jury investigation last year because the cases were too old. The region's 800,000 Catholics may never know how many priests escaped criminal charges or how many were innocent, unless a judge lets the prosecutor release information normally kept secret.

Mason had said he would open a roomful of investigative files to the public. But he backed off after Jones Day, a Cleveland law firm hired by Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, warned against doing that. Ten days after the grand jury issued criminal indictments against one priest and six diocesan employees in early December, lawyer Stephen Sozio said he would sue if Mason released the records.

Sozio cited an Ohio law that shields grand jury investigative materials from public view.

Diocesan spokesman Robert Tayek said the church took this position because the documents "contain personal, intimate information that was given in confidence."

"Disclosure could only bring more harm, humiliation and embarrassment for all parties involved," he told the Plain Dealer, adding that "to the best of our knowledge," no priests against whom allegations have been made are still in active ministry.


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