Cincinnati Archdiocese Held Papers, Court Told

Associated Press, carried in The Plain Dealer [Cincinnati OH]
May 22, 2003

Cincinnati- Prosecutors have accused the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati of withholding documents that were supposed to have been turned over in an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against priests.

Hamilton County prosecutors told the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals on Tuesday that church officials have made "misleading and inaccurate" statements about records that a Hamilton County Common Pleas judge ordered the archdiocese to share last year.

Church lawyers had argued that the records requested by prosecutors were protected by attorney-client privilege and should remain private. In a compromise reached last year, a "special master" was appointed by the court to determine which files should be given to prosecutors and which should remain private.

Prosecutors said in appeals court briefs that the church did not allow the special master to see documents kept by the archdiocese's lawyers.

"Representations made by the archdiocese with respect to this matter are at best seriously misleading, and, in fact, appear to be outright false," Prosecutor Mike Allen said in one of the briefs.

Prosecutors filed the briefs in advance of a May 27 hearing before the appeals court to determine whether the archdiocese should turn over additional documents.

Allen did not say how many documents he thinks were withheld.

Church lawyers denied that any documents were withheld from prosecutors.

"Any suggestion along those lines is absolutely false," said Mark VanderLaan, an archdiocese lawyer.

VanderLaan said he would not discuss details of the case because the investigation has not been completed. All of the allegations date back 10 years or more.


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