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High court turns away another appeal in fight over Conn. diocese files

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today turned away another appeal to stop the release of documents generated for sexual-abuse lawsuits against priests in a Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut.

The Court refused to hear an appeal from the Diocese of Bridgeport, which has been fighting for years to prevent the release of the documents. Last month, the justices refused to grant a delay at least while they considered the diocese’s full appeal.

The order was issued without comment.

The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and the Hartford Courant have asked to see the documents. The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that more than 12,000 pages from 23 lawsuits against the six priests should be unsealed.

The documents include depositions, affidavits and motions.

The records have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001 and could shed light on how recently retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was Bridgeport bishop.

The diocese says the First Amendment prohibits civil authorities from intruding into internal church decisions about priest assignments.

The diocese released a statement today saying church officials were disappointed with the decision but would work with the Connecticut courts on releasing the documents.

“We continue to believe that the constitutional issues presented, including the First Amendment rights of religious organizations and the privacy rights of all citizens, are significant and important for the Court to consider,” the statement said.

The diocese also said there had been a “true culture change” in the church, and church leaders had worked hard to address clergy sexual abuse and support victims.

A hearing is planned Nov. 9 in Waterbury Superior Court to determine when to release the documents.

The case is Bridgeport Diocese v. New York Times, 09-246.

High court won't block release of Conn. priest-abuse records
Justices also turn away appeals in several other First Amendment-related cases. 10.05.09

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