1:31 PM, Feb. 15, 2012 |
Written by BETH MILLER and SEAN O’SULLIVAN The News Journal
Ann Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org speaks at a news conference today outside the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington offices. At right is Matthias Conaty, founder of Child Victims Voice, an advocacy group. / The News Journal/FRED COMEGYS
WILMINGTON — The personnel records of more than a dozen priests and thousands of pages of court documents from sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington were released today by a Delaware-based advocacy group and a Boston-based watchdog group, and members of those groups now are calling for the resignations of three top diocesan officials.
The files emerge from agreements reached last year to settle the diocese’s bankruptcy case, which included more than $77 million in payment to abuse survivors and their attorneys. The non-monetary terms of that settlement included release of these records, many of which will be published today on the website of the nonprofit BishopAccountability.org.
Matthias Conaty, founder of Child Victims Voice, an advocacy group that fought for the 2007 Delaware law that made it possible for survivors to file the lawsuits, said the files provide clear evidence that church officials knew about abuser priests and “callously” did nothing to protect the children in their parishes.
“This is a victory for all of the brave men and women — terribly abused as little boys and little girls — who have forced this historic disclosure,” Conaty, who works in marketing for The News Journal, said in a press release. “We are making these records public to protect children and warn parents in the towns where these dangerous men are now living. Just as importantly, these documents bare the ugly truth that trusted religious leaders callously put children at risk.”
Conaty and his group are calling for the resignations of three diocesan officials, all monsignors — J. Thomas Cini, Joseph Rebman and Clement Lemon — who were involved in investigating the abuse cases for decades.
“The most important reason for giving a full accounting of what happened here in the Diocese of Wilmington is to do all we can to ensure this tragedy does not happen to one more child. A key part of that is to expose church officials who committed and concealed heinous crimes, and that’s what we’re doing today by giving the public access to these documents,” Conaty said.