Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony failed Tuesday to persuade a judge to seal sworn testimony by priests and other witnesses about allegations of decades-old child molestations by Roman Catholic clergy.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley J. Fromholz overruled arguments from Mahony’s lawyers that the release might prejudice potential jurors against the church.
“Allegations of clergy abuse have given rise to much anguish in the community,” the judge wrote. “This anguish has been exacerbated by allegations that the church concealed information relating to the abuse. Further concealment of information from the public is thus ill-advised.”
The first of the testimony over the last four months about hundreds of claims that Los Angeles priests abused children could become public in the next few weeks. In one deposition, an accused priest testified that his religious order transferred another priest at least twice after he too was accused of molesting children, Santa Barbara attorney Tim Hale, who represents alleged victims, said in court Tuesday.
Critics have contended that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles covered up the alleged abuse by shuffling accused priests from parish to parish, without notifying church members or calling law enforcement authorities.
Talks are continuing in attempts to settle more than 500 negligence suits filed against the archdiocese over the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
Fromholz has allowed dozens of elderly and ailing priests and other witnesses to testify, to preserve their accounts in case the lawsuits go to trial in the future.
Citing privacy concerns, Fromholz ordered lawyers to remove the names of victims, church employees and witnesses who are not parties to the lawsuits before releasing the depositions.
Mahony lawyer Donald Woods said he was pleased that names would be removed but added: “We don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to try these cases in the media or do anything that could taint a jury pool should any of these cases go to trial.”