LA Archdiocese Might Be Ordered to Review Priests' Files
Determinations Could Affect Damages

July 26, 2006

LOS ANGELES — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles may be ordered to review its personnel files on priests to find reported cases of sexual abuse, according to a tentative ruling Wednesday.

The decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Haley J. Fromholz would enable alleged victims to discover if priests had other accusers, and if officials were aware of the allegations. Those determinations could affect damages awarded to victims.

"The court is saying that we're out to get information from all alleged perpetrators since 1930," said plaintiffs attorney Anthony M. De Marco. "The court is coming on the side of saying the plaintiffs need to gather information here."

To determine if the personnel files are relevant, and if any privacy issues exist, the documents may be reviewed by a third party, Fromholz said.

Don Woods, an attorney for the church, objected to the tentative ruling on grounds that the order is too broad.

"I have an overarching problem," Woods said. "Some of these rulings require us to get into the details of every suspicious report ... that's in every report of every priest for 70 years."

Both sides will be back in court Aug. 4 to further argue the case, at which time the judge is expected to make a final ruling.


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