On Nov. 14th, The Legal Intelligencer reported that a plaintiff in a priest sex-abuse case asked the court to compel the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to hand over its “secret archive files” and personnel records.
Click here for the link. If it doesn’t take you to the full article, just put “secret archives of Philadelphia Archdiocese” into your Google search.
Excerpt: “Doe’s court papers claim that the plaintiff has received portions of the secret archive files from Lynn’s criminal case, but not files concerning Avery and 16 other priests identified as sex offenders by the grand jury.”
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Daniel F. Monahan
Monahan Law Practice, P.C.
7 Great Valley Parkway
Malvern, PA 19355
View the article at: http://www.thelegalintelligencer.com/home/id=1202676335237/Secret-Archive-Files-Sought-in-Clergy-Abuse-Case?mcode=1202617075166&curindex=0
A copy of the motion filed by pltfs counsel should provide the names of the 17 priests for whom they are seeking the records
The plaintiff in a priest sex-abuse case has asked the court to compel the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to reveal its “secret archive” files and personnel records on 17 priests.
In obtaining the information from the secret archives—which plaintiff Billy Doe claims to contain “unflattering” information on priests—Doe seeks to establish that Monsignor William Lynn repeatedly reassigned priests accused of sexual misconduct to different parishes, including defrocked priest Edward Avery, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing Doe in 1999, according to Doe’s motion to compel.
The motion was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by one of Doe’s attorneys, Paul Lauricella of McLaughlin & Lauricella. Lauricella did not return a call seeking comment.
Lynn was the first Catholic Church administrative official convicted of endangering the welfare of children abused by other priests; however, his conviction was overturned by the state Superior Court and he was released from prison Jan. 7. The state Supreme Court is set to hear argument in Lynn’s case Nov. 18.
“These files are likely to produce evidence of defendant Lynn’s bias and his interest in protecting the church, even at the expense of the well-being of the victims to whom he was supposedly offering pastoral care,” Doe’s court papers said.
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney attorney Thomas A. Bergstrom, who represents Lynn, said he had not seen the motion, but asserted that Lynn brought the contents of the secret archive to the attention of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, the leader of the archdiocese when Lynn was secretary of clergy. Bevilacqua was archbishop of Philadelphia from 1988 to 2003, and died in 2012.
“I think if that’s their position, then they’re not going to be successful; it was Lynn who went to the secret archive files and exposed all that and sent it to Bevilacqua, who shredded all of that,” Bergstrom said.
Avery’s attorney, Lisa Eldridge of Clark Hill, deferred comment to the archdiocese’s counsel. Nicholas Centrella of Conrad O’Brien, representing the archdiocese, did not return a call seeking comment. As of press time, the defendants had not filed a response to Doe’s motion.
Doe’s court papers claim that the plaintiff has received portions of the secret archive files from Lynn’s criminal case, but not files concerning Avery and 16 other priests identified as sex offenders by the grand jury.
The archdiocese had objected to production of the files, Doe’s papers said, on the grounds that they contained privileged information and because they were not likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
Contrary to Bergstrom’s assertions that Lynn had nothing to do with the shredding of secret archive documents, Doe’s papers allege that Lynn, Bevilacqua and other church administrators were part of a scheme to destroy the alleged evidence of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests.
According to Doe’s papers, Lynn was not only aware of Avery’s misconduct, but part of an “institutionalized effort” to conceal sexual abuse.
“The secret archive files can certainly provide the context of many of Lynn’s decisions. For instance, Lynn made his inexplicably irresponsible recommendation to assign Avery to a parish with an elementary school on Oct. 19, 1993,” Doe’s papers said. “On the same day he made an identical recommendation with respect to another sex offender, Father Robert Brennan.”
“In other words,” Doe’s papers continued, “the secret archive files of Brennan demonstrate that Lynn’s ill-considered decision regarding Avery was not an isolated aberration, but was, in fact, his standard practice.”
Additionally, the plaintiff’s papers contend that the documents could show that Lynn was not inclined to investigate further when learning that a priest had been involved in sexual misconduct.
“The slipshod investigations, the purposeful failure to seek out additional victims, and the misinformation that was provided to parishioners, was not the result of simple inadvertence,” Doe’s papers said.
The plaintiff also called the archdiocese’s claim of privilege in the secret archive files “overstated.”
“These files are unquestionably reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence,” Doe’s papers said.
Lynn was responsible for reviewing allegations of sexual abuse involving priests as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s secretary of clergy from 1992 until 2004. He was convicted of endangering the welfare of D.G. by his role in assigning D.G.’s abuser to the parish in which D.G. served as an altar server.
Avery pleaded guilty to abusing D.G. In a separate trial of two co-defendants who had their cases severed from Lynn’s trial, Avery testified that he only pleaded guilty in order to get a shorter prison sentence.
The Legal does not name confirmed or alleged victims of abuse.
P.J. D’Annunziocan be contacted at 215-557-2315 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PJDannunzioTLI.