Priest Sex Abuse Files Released

Attorneys of 144 abuse victims are getting first look at files, but wonder if they've been 'sanitized'.

Sunday, Feb 15, 2009  |  Updated 8:00 PM PDT
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Priest Sex Abuse Files Released

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego said priests were informed of the move by letter Wednesday night.

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has started to release files of priests, living and dead, accused of sexually abusing minors over the past several decades. The release of the information is part of the $198 million settlement of lawsuits filed by 144 victims in 2007.

But the lawyer for several of those victims is questioning just how much information will actually be released.

"I'm hopeful that the files will contain a significant amount of information," said attorney Michael Zimmer. "My fear is that they will not. We have received individual files that have been sanitized.

The files are being released through a secure website to the victim's lawyers. The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has asked a judge to decide if some of the material should remain confidential so living priests accused of abuse can challege the release of the information.

The process of release all of the files could spread out over a months long period according to the attorney.

"The hope is that when we look at these files, and these files are made public, that it will become obvious that the diocese knew about the problems with some of these priests and simply ignored those problems," said attorney  Zimmer.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego said priests were informed of the move by letter Wednesday night. The diocese filed for bankruptcy protection before any of the lawsuits went to trial.

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