UPDATED Missouri Supreme Court denies writ filed by the Archdiocese of St. Louis

February 5, 2014
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Today the Missouri Supreme Court has denied a writ of prohibition filed by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The writ was in response to a court order granting a plaintiff’s attorney’s request for the release of the personal information of victims of clergy sexual abuse and of priests who have been accused of abuse over six decades. Although some allegations date back as far as the 1940s, all were reported within a 20 year window (1983-2003). Most of the allegations predate the Catholic Church’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was passed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2002.

The archdiocese had litigated to protect the privacy rights of all involved, including victims who had no connection to current litigation and who had come forth confidentially regarding their reported allegation. The requested information includes not only names, but also addresses and phone numbers.

We appreciate the concern given this case throughout the appellate process, and although we share the disappointment of the many innocent individuals who will be affected by it, the Archdiocese of St. Louis will comply with the court order entered by the Missouri Supreme Court.

The safety and dignity of every person—in every claim—is paramount. Our Safe Environment Office leads the effort to keep children safe through a process of background checks, training, and education for all clergy, archdiocesan employees, and lay volunteers who work with minors. In a little more than 10 years, approximately 150,000 people have been trained in this program.

It is our fervent hope that today’s ruling will not deter victims from coming forward to report abuse. Sexual abuse is a sin and a crime. It remains the firm commitment of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to root out this evil whenever and wherever it presents itself within our ranks. As always, the Archdiocese of St. Louis encourages all persons with reports of misconduct with a minor involving a member of the clergy or other personnel to contact Deacon Phil Hengen, Director of Child and Youth Protection, at 314.792.7704, the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800.392.3738, or law enforcement officials.