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Judge Orders Boston Archdiocese to Ask for Priests' Medical Files

May 20, 2003 | AP

A judge has ordered the Boston Archdiocese (search) to ask dozens of priests for permission to release their psychiatric files to attorneys trying to determine how much church officials knew about clergy sexual abuse.

The medical files covered by Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney's ruling Friday include reports experts made after treating priests at mental health clinics, retreats and other institutions.

The archdiocese, which has been at the center of the clergy abuse crisis in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church (search), did not return a call seeking comment.

Sweeney said the archdiocese must inform those priests they have 15 days to object to the release of the medical records. The judge has previously ordered the release of such documents involving other priests.

Elsewhere Tuesday, former priest Michael Baker, 55, of Long Beach, Calif., pleaded innocent to five new charges alleging he molested an altar boy in the 1970s and '80s. In all, he faces 34 felony charges for alleged abuse of a man, now 35.

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