Archdiocese given more time to turn over files on 'credibly accused' priests

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A judge in Ramsey County District Court Thursday gave the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis more time to turn over documents related to priests "credibly accused" of sexually abusing minors, KSTP reports.

The files were due to be turned over by Monday, just ahead of the deposition of Archbishop John Nienstedt April 2. Former Vicar General Kevin McDonough is also due to be deposed on April 16.

KSTP says the judge is allowing leeway with the files because there are more than 60,000 documents involved – some of which date back to the 1970s and include handwritten notes.

According to the Pioneer Press, Judge John Van de North previously ordered church officials to disclose all files by the end of the day Monday relating to 33 priests "credibly accused" of sexual abuse of minors before 2004.

Attorneys for the Archdiocese argued that some of the files contained victim names and information that were subject to attorney-client privilege; some of which will need to be designated non-public.

KSTP says the scheduled depositions of Nienstedt and McDonough are in response to a lawsuit brought by an unidentified plaintiff who claims he is a clergy abuse victim.

Despite the ruling, Van de North expects all files relating to abuse under Nienstedt's watch – beginning in 2007 – to be turned over by the original March 31 deadline. Jeff Anderson, one of the attorneys for the victim – known as Doe 1 – said he intends on making as much of the depositions public as soon as he can.

"Until the past is known, the future is uncertain as to the safety of our children," Anderson said. "So it really becomes I think a public policy imperative to get this out."

Anderson said he expects to receive all of the files of credibly accused priests by the time McDonough is deposed, the Pioneer Press says.

The Archdiocese released a statement after the hearing Thursday, saying it was pleased with the judge's decision to delay the release of some of the files.

"Our goals remain the protection of children, the healing of victims, and the restoration of trust of the faithful and our clergy who are serving our communities nobly and with honor," the Archdiocese said.

The judge set the trial date for the action sought by the victim for Sept. 22.

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