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Release of Church Files Stalled

Nov 27, 2002 | Cincinnati Post

Despite a judge's order Tuesday to make them public, documents remain sealed in the Hamilton County prosecutor's investigation into allegations of sexual abuse involving the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Common Pleas Judge Fred Cartolano on Tuesday ordered the documents unsealed, then left for the Thanksgiving holiday. He won't be back until Monday.

Clerk of Courts Jim Cissell, who said the judge's order unsealing the documents was too ambiguous, wouldn't release any of the documents Tuesday.

Cissell said he was afraid of misreading the order and accidentally releasing some documents the judge didn't intend for release.

Cissell and his staff spent much of Tuesday on the telephone with archdiocese attorneys and prosecutors trying to clarify the judge's order.

If prosecutors and archdiocese attorneys agreed to allow release of the documents, Cissell said he would. They didn't, Cissell said.

Archdiocese attorneys, who met with Cartolano and prosecutors behind closed doors in Cartolano's chambers Tuesday morning, didn't return phone calls.

Cartolano's order terminated his June 20 order sealing the documents.

"(I) find that all pleadings and papers filed in this case prior to the date of this entry are unsealed except to the extent the identity of a witness who appeared before the grand jury or information and/or documents provided in response to a grand jury subpoena is/are contained in or attached to a pleading or paper," Tuesday's order said.

It added that all documents in the case from this point on wouldn't be sealed unless the documents identify a grand jury witness or documents presented to the special grand jury seated to hear evidence in the case.

That grand jury was impaneled in July, but earlier this month prosecutors asked that it be extended five months because prosecutors aren't through investigating allegations of sexual abuse of children by archdiocese employees.

In March, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk revealed that as many as five employees including at least one priest accused of sexually exploiting children in the past were still working for the archdiocese.

As many as 20 employees in the 19-county archdiocese had abused children, Pilarczyk has noted.

The July special grand jury was impaneled after Prosecutor Mike Allen criticized the archdiocese and its attorneys for not cooperating in the investigation, an allegation that was denied.

Archdiocese Chancellor Rev. Christopher Armstrong, the official keeper of archdiocese records, testified before a grand jury.

Grand jury proceedings are secret.

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