State: Church may not have told of abuse

Dec. 3, 2002 at 1:30 PM
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CINCINNATI, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Court records Tuesday indicated the Archdiocese of Cincinnati may not have reported sexual abuse allegations despite a state law requiring officials to do so.

Prosecutors filed legal briefs related to a grand jury investigation of Catholic priests accused of sexual misconduct, indicating a criminal investigation is under way to determine whether the church concealed the alleged acts.

The documents do not indicate which church officials are the focus of the latest inquiry.

"The archdiocese may have at times failed to comply with its duty to notify the state of its knowledge of allegations of sexual abuse of minors," Prosecutor Mike Allen wrote in a brief filed Monday. He added the lack of action may have been the result of "advice (from) legal counsel." The brief also accused the church of "stonewalling."

"That's absolutely false," church attorney Mark VanderLaan told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Prosecutors and the church still are wrangling over which documents should be released to investigators following revelations by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk that the church continues to employ several individuals accused of sexual misconduct at least a decade ago.

"The archdiocese is attempting to hide behind its position that certain documents are protected by attorney-client privilege," prosecutors said in an earlier court filing.

VanderLaan said, however, there are simply some documents to which prosecutors are just not entitled.

"We believe the archdiocese at all times has complied" with the law on reporting sexual abuse allegations, VanderLaan told the Cincinnati Post.

A special master was appointed to sort through the documents and determine which should be turned over. He issued a report Nov. 19 and both sides are disputing the conclusions.

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