Conn. diocese has strong reason to keep records sealed

September 3, 2009

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RE “DIOCESE appears to break pledge: Fights order to disclose Conn. sex abuse records’’ (Metro, Aug. 29): In addition to opposing transparency, continuing secrecy, and stopping further revelations of alleged wrongdoing by Edward M. Egan when he was bishop of the Connecticut city, the Diocese of Bridgeport has another reason for not wanting to release documents, and that is that doing so could give proponents of a sexual abuse bill pending in the New York State legislature an edge. These proponents are battling to pass a law allowing sexual abuse victims now under age 53 to file a lawsuit during a one-year window. This legislation has been hotly contested, and the vote is very close. One vote either way could be the difference. The bill applies to all victims of sexual abuse, not only victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Released documents could show the culpability of Cardinal Egan while leading the Diocese of Bridgeport and allow one to presume that while archbishop of New York, he was just as culpable. This could give proponents of the New York bill compelling evidence to sway undecided legislators. Public pressure to vote in support of the bill would increase substantially. The Bridgeport Diocese and the Catholic Church hierarchy therefore have a powerful incentive to argue against revealing evidence of the extent of further betrayal.

Mitchell Garabedian
The writer is an attorney who represents abuse victims.

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