In addition to investigating allegations of sexual abuse by Archdiocese of Cincinnati employees, a special Hamilton County grand jury also is investigating if the archdiocese and its lawyers committed crimes by not reporting those allegations.
“The Archdiocese may have at times failed to comply with its duty to notify the state of its knowledge of allegations of sexual abuse of minors. It also appears that, with respect to those instances, the Archdiocese may have in part based the decisions not to notify the state of its knowledge of the abuse on the advice of its legal counsel,” Prosecutor Mike Allen wrote in a motion filed Monday.
Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco emphatically denied Allen’s claims.
“It’s speculation and it’s speculation without basis,” Andriacco said today. “It’s false and it’s slanderous.
“The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has never knowingly violated the law in child protection issues and counsel has never advised us to break the law.”
Allen’s motion on Monday followed several salvos Friday at what ithe proseuctor describes as the archdiocese’s stubborn unwillingness to turn over documents its attorneys promised as part of the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse.
The fight has seen Allen call several press conferences this year to complain that the archdiocese and its attorneys are being obstructionist in Allen’s attempt to uncover alleged wrongdoing.
Allen’s motion likely with further heat up the fight that resulted in a judge Monday unsealing some of the documents in the case that has been sealed for months.
Those unsealed documents letters between prosecutors and archdiocese attorneys tell of accusations that the archdiocese is doing all it can to hide from the truth and cover up for potential crimes.
The most serious allegations from prosecutors came not from the documents that were unsealed but from the motion filed by Allen’s office at the end of the day.
“The state recognizes,” it noted, “that the Archdiocese has not been charged with violating its duty to notify the state of allegations of sexual abuse. However, that is in part what the state is investigating, and it is certainly a possibility that the Archdiocese and/or one or more of its clergy, employees, or volunteers will be indicted.”
That was news to Mark VanderLaan, an attorney at Dinsmore and Shohl, the firm representing the archdiocese.
“We absolutely disagree with that allegation,” VanderLaan said. “We believe the archdiocese at all times has complied (with laws requiring allegations of sexual abuse to be reported).”
But Allen believes that reply is disingenuous as is the archdiocese’s failure to turn over requested documents and says the archdiocese has a history of hiding such documents.
“This is a particularly inappropriate response from a party that is being investigated for concealment of information and has attempted to wrongfully conceal information and documents in other litigation,” Allen’s motion notes.
In 1994, a man sued the Archdiocese and now defrocked priest George Cooley after Cooley sexually abused him. In that case, “the Court rejected the concerted effort by the Archdiocese to prevent (the man) from obtaining non-privileged documents,” Allen’s motion notes.
Allen’s office issued subpoenas to the archdiocese after Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk revealed in March 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 said.
Allen’s motion also reveals that Cincinnati attorney Glenn Whitaker was appointed a “Special Master” to review documents the archdiocese said shouldn’t be handed over to prosecutors because they were protected by attorney-client privilege.
Whitaker issued a Nov. 19 report the two sides also are fighting over.
The archdiocese, Allen said Monday, earlier agreed to develop and then deliver a privilege log an itemized report that details what documents the archdiocese believes it doesn’t have to turn over to prosecutors because of attorney-client privilege. Such logs, Allen said, are routinely used in cases where there is a dispute over such documents.
That log is supposed to reveal the recipient and author of documents the archdiocese believes are privileged, their date and a brief description of their subject matter and why lawyers believe it shouldn’t be handed over.
Allen’s office said archdiocese attorneys, in an April 17 letter, agreed to turn over the privilege log which has been compiled but later reneged on that.
That violates the two subpoenas issued to the archdiocese by the special grand jury seated to hear evidence, he said.
“For some undisclosed reason, the Archdiocese has refused to produce this log even though there is no dispute that it exists, it is responsive to one or both of the subpoenas, and, by definition, does not contain any privileged information,” Allen’s motion notes.
The reason the log wasn’t turned over, Andriacco countered, was because it was offered if prosecutors dropped their efforts to subpoena documents related to the case from the Archdiocese lawyers.
“All we are asking is that the normal grand jury procedures be followed,” Andriacco said.
Without that log, which prosecutors need to determine if they want to fight the assertion that it is protected, the case could drag on and on, Allen said.
Just because the documents were discussed by the archdiocese and its attorneys doesn’t mean it should be excluded from being given to prosecutors, Allen said.
If the log isn’t turned over, the motion notes, “the State has the absolute right to have those witnesses appear before the Grand Jury and provide through their testimony all of the information that would be in a privilege log.”