Sex abuse victims' attorneys want more priest names revealed

  • Attorneys Marc Pearlman and Jeff Anderson on Tuesday called on Archdiocese of Chicago officials to release the names and files of priests accused of child sex abuse -- whether the allegations were deemed credible.

      Attorneys Marc Pearlman and Jeff Anderson on Tuesday called on Archdiocese of Chicago officials to release the names and files of priests accused of child sex abuse -- whether the allegations were deemed credible. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

  • Jeff Anderson, a prominent attorney who has represented victims abused by clergy, accused Archdiocese of Chicago officials Tuesday of not being fully transparent with its release last week of documents relating to 36 priests accused of sexual abuse.

      Jeff Anderson, a prominent attorney who has represented victims abused by clergy, accused Archdiocese of Chicago officials Tuesday of not being fully transparent with its release last week of documents relating to 36 priests accused of sexual abuse. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

 
 

Nearly a week after the Archdiocese of Chicago released child sex abuse files pertaining to 36 priests, victims' attorneys are publicly questioning whether the release of the documents shed enough light on the decades-long scandal.

Attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, who have represented hundreds of victims of priest sex abuse in Chicago and across the country, say they should have had input and oversight in the document review process, as they did when the first set of files relating to another 30 priests was released in January.

They now want incoming Archbishop Blase Cupich, who will be formally installed next week as Cardinal Francis George's successor, to disclose the names of all priests who have been accused of child sexual abuse -- whether the allegations were determined by the archdiocese to be credible.

"The whole story about the past has to be revealed, and until we and other outsiders who are professionals in this area are allowed to scrutinize all of the files of all the credibly accused offenders and all those accused, we can't take any comfort in a partial disclosure," Anderson said during a news conference at a downtown Chicago law office.

John O'Malley, the archdiocese's special counsel for misconduct issues, said Tuesday it was an "outrageous and presumptuous" suggestion by the attorneys that they be able to see all those files.

O'Malley said Anderson and Pearlman don't currently have any clients who said they had been abused by the 36 priests detailed in the most recent document release -- unlike earlier this year, when the attorneys were involved in the release of more than 6,000 pages of documents pursuant to a 2006 mediation agreement.

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Anderson said he has 10 to 12 clients who said to have been abused by some of those 36 priests.

O'Malley argued that those are former clients, "which doesn't give (the attorneys) present interest in this process."

The attorneys say the latest documents, which encompass some 15,000 pages, have a number of redactions, and in some cases, withhold information about the involvement of archdiocese officials in responding to priest sex abuse allegations. The files also don't include complete victims' stories, which were replaced by abstracts.

"When we were involved in the first 30, the documents that were negotiated the hardest were the documents that we believed the public would have found most interesting," Pearlman said. "They didn't think those documents should be disclosed, and we did think they should be disclosed. We're not at that table. The things we would find most interesting, I presume, simply were removed, but I don't know what I don't know."

O'Malley said abstracts of victim statements were provided in the recent document release as a way to protect their identities, after a number of victims whose stories were made public in January expressed concern too much potentially identifying information was released,

The attorneys say the documents released by the Archdiocese last week were confusing and not decipherable, so they've reorganized the files, provided summaries and timelines, and posted them on their website.

O'Malley said the archdiocese "stands by the integrity of (its) document release."

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