Thousands of pages of secret files held by Roman Catholic orders concerning priests accused of molesting children will be released throughout the summer beginning as early as next month, according to attorneys.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias set a deadline of September for the religious orders to turn over files on dozens of priests for public release at a hearing Tuesday. The release of confidential files kept by the orders, such as the Salesians, Vincentians and Marinists, were agreed to as part of settlements with victims.
“Most of the orders have come forward with a positive attitude .… We want to get this behind us,” Raymond Boucher, an attorney for victims, told the judge.
The secret files, which are required by Catholic church law, would shed light on how high-ranking officials at the orders and leaders of the L.A. archdiocese dealt with allegations of abuse by priests who were assigned to work in Los Angeles. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of its own closely-held document cache in January, but many of the files for priests who belonged to Catholic orders were scant.
Boucher said attorneys would publicly release the files as they were turned over by the individual orders throughout the coming months. He said the earliest release could be as soon as in three weeks.