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Minnesota court confirms: archdiocese must yield names of accused priests

March 19, 2014

A Minnesota judge has ruled that the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis must release internal documents regarding all cases in which priests have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.

Citing Minnesota’s “long tradition of liberal discovery,” Judge John Van de North said that the archdiocese had failed to show any convincing reason why the international documents should be protected from discovery on grounds of religious freedom.

The court’s ruling—which also applies to the Diocese of Winona—will allow the disclosure of documents showing how the archdiocese responded to credible accusations. Under the judge’s ruling, documents relating to cases in which the accusations were not found credible will remain sealed.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul, which has consistently fought the release of internal documents, released a statement saying that it “looks forward to working with the court, the opposing parties, and the special master in complying with today’s ruling.” Lawyers for the archdiocese are now asking the court to prevent public release of sworn testimony by Archbishop John Nienstedt and Rev. Kevin McDonough, a former vicar general, who was responsible for the handling of many sex-abuse cases.


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