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Planning the Release of Secret Church Documents
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A  hearing was held in Waterbury Superior Court on Monday to plan the release of thousands of secret court documents on sex abuse by Connecticut priests. The records include briefs, affidavits and testimony from 23 clergy sex abuse lawsuits brought against the Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocese, and include depositions by retired Cardinal Edward Egan of New York that could reveal how he handled the crisis when he was Bishop of Bridgeport.

At Monday’s hearing, lawyers for four newspapers seeking access to the records, urged the judge to move quickly.  But Diocese attorneys said they needed time to review portions that will remain confidential.  They also discussed preservation of the original material. The plaintiffs want to be sure the public records accurately represent the originals.

Jamie Dance is co-chair of Voice of the Faithful in Bridgeport, a group of lay Catholics who support transparency in the church.  Speaking outside the courthouse, she says she was pleased by the hearing. 

"The cloak of secrecy that the Diocese of Bridgeport has lingered under for so many years will no longer exist.  People in the parishes will see exactly what happened to children in the Diocese with  the oversight of bishops."

Michael Reck is a lawyer representing a survivor with a current claim against one of the Bridgeport priests.

"These documents we believe will include information that would help current survivors who are wrestling with these issues be able to heal".

In May, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the documents must be made public.  Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court refused to hear the Diocese’s appeal.  Lawyers are to meet next week to start the process of unsealing the records.