Confidential personnel files of 14 more Roman Catholic priests were subpoenaed in a widening abuse scandal involving the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The subpoenas were issued over the last week and nearly double the number of files sought by prosecutors. Files on 17 priests and church officials were requested for last year but prosecutors have yet to see them.
“We continue to vigorously pursue our investigation, and expect it will be very active and intense in the months to come,” said Deputy District Attorney Bill Hodgman, chief prosecutor in the clergy cases.
Six retired or former priests have been charged with crimes in Los Angeles County. The subpoenas followed the grand jury testimony of detectives from several police departments. Prosecutors believe the information in the files will support allegations by more than a dozen adults that they were molested as children by priests.
Archdiocese attorneys argue that disclosure of the nearly 2,000 pages of church documents would violate fundamental tenets of the faith and constitutional protections for communications between priests and their superiors.
Hodgman said that conversations between bishops and priests are not constitutionally protected. He said suspected child molesters should not have a “free pass.”
District Attorney Steve Cooley has accused the archdiocese of conspiring to keep reports of child molestation secret. Church officials said that accusations of conspiracy are unfounded and irresponsible, and they said that not one priest accused of child abuse is in ministry with the archdiocese.