Thursday, April 4, 2013

Archdiocese of Milwaukee to release sex abuse records

Annysa Johnson reports at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the latest development in the Archbankruptcy of Milwaukee.
'Under the terms of a stipulation [pdf] filed with the court on Wednesday, the archdiocese agreed to make public about 3,000 pages of documents that had been sought by attorneys for victims and the bankruptcy creditors. And it leaves the door open for additional records to be released.

'The documents, which will be posted on the archdiocese website on July 1, include portions of priest personnel files; and pages from the files of the bishops, the vicar for clergy and other sources within the archdiocese. Also released will be the depositions of Archbishop Rembert Weakland and Bishop Richard Sklba, both retired, and New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who led the Milwaukee Archdiocese from 2002 to 2009.'

Why now?
'Wednesday's decision was a reversal by the archdiocese, whose attorneys - along with those of Weakland and Sklba - had argued vigorously against the release of records in previous hearings. [U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V.] Kelley, who early in the bankruptcy issued a sweeping order sealing the documents and many of the legal filings to protect victims, had suggested in recent hearings that she was open to a limited release of documents.'
What's the spin from our Archdiocese?
"'My hope is by making these documents public we will shed much-needed light on how the archdiocese responded to abuse survivors over the past 40-plus years, and that they will aid abuse survivors and others in resolution and healing,' Archbishop Jerome Listecki said in a letter to parishes, schools and church leaders on Wednesday."
Why, then, would our Archdiocese have fought long, hard, and expensively to prevent this shedding of much-needed light and this aid to abuse victims?
"Said [retired Auxiliary Bishop Richard] Sklba: 'I welcome the release . . . as a way to further get out the truth of what happened - and what didn't happen - during the many years the Church has been dealing with this issue.'"
If he welcomes the release of the transcript of his deposition, why did he hire his own attorney to try to quash it or keep it sealed?
"Listecki was unavailable for comment Wednesday. His spokesman, Jerry Topczewski, said the archbishop decided to release the documents to remove a major impediment to a resolution of the bankruptcy.

"'We need to get a plan of reorganization,' Topczewski said. 'His feelings were, if this is a stumbling block, let's remove it so we can move forward.'"

The case has been pending two years and three months, so this doesn't seem the most timely removal of a major impediment to resolution. Especially when the party leaving this stumbling block in place keeps saying how important it is to get past it to a plan of reorganization.

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