The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 2, 2013

Judge orders names of accused priests released

St. Paul and Winona diocese must release names of 46 accused of abuse

ST. PAUL — A judge on Monday gave the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis until Dec. 17 to disclose a list of 33 priests deemed to have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North, Jr., also ordered the Diocese of Winona to release a similar list of 13 priests, bringing the total clergy named to 46. Both lists were compiled in 2004 in a nationwide study to determine the scope of clergy sex abuse.

The two dioceses must release the priests' names; birth year and age; year of ordination; whether they're alive or dead and the year of death; the parishes they served; their current status; and the city and state where they live. The dioceses must provide detailed explanations to the court for any names they choose not to release, Van de North said. They must file the same information by Jan. 6 for any priests accused of sexual abuse of minors since the lists were compiled.

Church leaders have balked at releasing the lists of credibly accused priests in the past, saying publication could harm the reputation of innocent priests. They argued the term "credibly accused," which was coined by the 2004 study, has a low threshold and meant that any report of abuse that was "not implausible" was to be included on the list.

Van de North said his ruling will put the "lightning rod" issue of the identity of accused priests into a better perspective. It also allows both dioceses to make exceptions, but requires more detail about those exceptions than the dioceses have provided in the past.

"I think the archdiocese and the archbishop are making strides, and it certainly seems to be moving in the right direction," Van de North said, adding: "They need a little push from the court."

Van de North said he will also issue a written order reiterating his ruling.

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