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Bishop-to-be of Marquette, Mich., destroyed sex abuse records in 2011

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MARQUETTE, Mich., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The newly appointed bishop of Marquette, Mich., destroyed documents relating to priests accused of sexual abuse in 2011, a victims' advocacy group said.

The Rev. John Doefler, 49, vicar general of the Green Bay, Wis., diocese, is set to be installed as Marquette bishop early next year, after he was named to the position Tuesday by Pope Francis.

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The advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests was critical of the appointment, saying he destroyed what may have been criminal evidence, including psychological reports of priests accused of sexually assaulting minors.

"We find this decision really perplexing," said the organization's Midwest Director, Peter Isely. "Doefler destroyed virtually all of the abuse records in Green Bay."

Doefler testified, in a 2011 deposition in a lawsuit involving convicted pedophile John Patrick Feeney, that he destroyed the material as part of a record retention policy already in place, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

It was not clear if Pope Francis, who has created a commission to address the church's sex abuse issues, was aware of Doefler's role in the destruction of the records, the newspaper noted.

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