Ruling in priest abuse lawsuit may trigger release of church documents

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A judge's ruling in a lawsuit alleging clergy sex abuse could trigger the release of internal Catholic Church documents.

The Star Tribune reports the ruling by Ramsey County Judge John Van de North allows a public nuisance lawsuit to proceed against both the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona. The suit was filed by an anonymous plaintiff who maintains he was sexually abused by the Rev. Tom Adamson, the Star Tribune says.

According to the Pioneer Press, the lawsuit claims Adamson had admitted molesting boys while serving in the Winona Diocese but church officials transferred him to the archdiocese without mentioning his history to families in his new parish.

One of the plaintiff's attorneys tells the Star Tribune he'll ask for the release of the correspondence between the archdiocese and the diocese. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson tells the Pioneer Press the judge's refusal to throw out the public nuisance lawsuit could set a precedent for other courts. Anderson tells the newspaper similar cases are pending against the Dioceses of New Ulm, Crookston, and Duluth.

Last week the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released a list of priests "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children since the 1950's. The Diocese of Winona is under a court order to release a similar list and plans to do so Monday, the Star Tribune says.

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