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Prosecutor Subpoenas More Files On Priests

Aug 1, 2002 | Sun-Sentinel The Broward County State Attorney's Office, which is investigating claims of clergy sexual misconduct, has issued subpoenas to the Miami Archdiocese for more detailed records.

Assistant Broward County State Attorney Dennis Siegel, head of the sex crimes and child-abuse unit, said his office began issuing subpoenas July 10. Siegel would not say how many have been submitted nor what kind of documents have been requested but insisted the archdiocese "is still being cooperative."

"The need to issue subpoenas does not imply they're being uncooperative at all," Siegel said, adding this procedure is part of an earlier agreement his office made with the archdiocese.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta also insisted this is "just a normal procedure." She could not say how many requests the archdiocese has received or why the archdiocese isn't simply turning over the information voluntarily.

"It's been clear we have cooperated with the Broward and Dade county's attorney's office," she said. "They're doing what they need to do."

Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office spokesman Ed Griffith would not say if his office also is issuing subpoenas.

In recent months 14 lawsuits have been filed against the archdiocese, almost all alleging clergy sexual abuse. South Florida state attorneys are looking at these and other claims of abuse and began submitting requests for documents to the archdiocese about two months ago.

In May, Siegel and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle met with archdiocese officials to work out what records the archdiocese would provide.

After two weeks of negotiations Rundle's office hit an impasse, and May 16 she formally requested "all allegations of child abuse by any members of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Miami that occurs or has occurred in Miami-Dade County."

In June, Archbishop John Favalora announced the archdiocese had given state prosecutors information from church files going back to the 1950s. At the time, archdiocese officials continued to assure parishioners they have a firm policy of cooperating with law enforcement and launch internal investigations when allegations surface.

Favalora said officials had reviewed as many as 1,000 files on priests in the Miami Archdiocese and was "gratefully pleased" he didn't see more cases of abuse. The archbishop would not say just how many incidents were found in the files nor how many were turned over to state prosecutors.

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