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Files Opened On Accused Priests

Dec 4, 2002 | BBC

Lawyers in the United States representing people who claim they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests have released personnel files on eight clergymen.

The files contain allegations of sexual abuse in memos, letters and complaints from alleged victims.

The attorneys are claiming that the Boston archdiocese routinely protected priests accused of sexual misconduct, moving them to different parishes.

Boston archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey declined to comment on specific allegations released by the lawyers, but added: "Some of the information contained in those documents is truly horrible.

"We are committed to helping any and all survivors."

The Boston archdiocese is facing an estimated 450 civil lawsuits from people claiming to have been abused by Catholic priests. The claims began to surface in January and the scandal has rocked the US Roman Catholic Church.

Lawyers for the alleged victims had been given access to the files on the orders of a Massachusetts judge.

One of the files details the case of a priest who was an alcoholic, a drug user and who had allegedly supplied drugs in return for a sexual act.

Problems 'overlooked'

A file on another priest who was later jailed for child molestation contained a church document noting his "problem with little children" when he was sent to the archdiocese in the early 1980s.

A 1999 memo sent to the Vatican said the priest's "propensity" was known to archdiocese officials but overlooked in favour of "solemn assurances of his ability to control his impulses".

The released documents also show that the Boston archdiocese was aware of allegations that another priest had recruited girls to become nuns and told them to perform sexual acts as a way of progressing with their religious studies.

The disclosures came amid reports that the Boston archdiocese may declare bankruptcy as a result of the lawsuits.

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