Court won't block sex abuse papers release

Oct. 5, 2009 at 12:14 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to keep court documents on sex abuse cases involving Connecticut Catholic clergy sealed temporarily.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport had asked the justices to keep the 12,600 pages of documents sealed until the high court decides on whether it will hear the case. The Hartford (Conn.) Courant said the refusal means the documents could be unsealed soon and the U.S. Supreme Court will not take the case.

The diocese was asking for a review of Connecticut Supreme Court ruling the documents should be made public. The diocese cited First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion.

Lawyers for diocese last month asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who oversees the 2nd U.S. Circuit including Connecticut, to block the release. When she refused, they asked Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice whose son is a priest, to block the unsealing, the newspaper said.

Instead of acting on his own, Scalia referred the matter to the full court for a vote. The justices turned down the request Monday without comment.

The Courant said the Bridgeport diocese has been struggling for years to keep the documents sealed, and the request to the U.S. Supreme Court was its last legal avenue. Church officials have said legal fees in the case come from annual administrative and legal expenses, but refuse to say how much has been spent.

The Courant and three other newspapers filed suit in 2002 to keep the files from being destroyed and to make them public. The state high court has ruled twice that the files are public, the newspaper reported.

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