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St. Paul Archdiocese seeks more time before release of documents

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With a court deadline looming Thursday, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has asked for an extra 90 days in its effort to gather and disclose documents related to priests suspected of sexual abuse.

The archdiocese is also seeking new protections that would limit public access to the documents, the Star Tribune reports.

At issue are documents on about 40 priests who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children from 1970 to the present.

“This is an exhaustive, time consuming and extremely expensive and burdensome process,” lawyers for the archdiocese said a court document filed this week.

A Ramsey County District Court judge on Thursday is expected to hear arguments from archdiocese lawyers about why they need more time, and why they seek to keep under wraps the sworn testimonies of Archbishop John Nienstedt and former vicar general Kevin McDonough, the archdiocese’s point person on priest abuse, the Star Tribune reports.

Meanwhile, a Ramsey County judge has tapped retired Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Robert Schumacher to be a special master in the fight over the church's release of documents related to sexual abuse by priests.

Specifically, Schumacher would preside over discovery disputes in a lawsuit filed against the St. Paul archdiocese, as well as the Diocese of Winona, by a man who alleges that the Rev. Thomas Adamson sexually abused him when he was a boy.

That case has prompted lawyers for the man to seek a much broader release of documents related to priest abuse going back decades, as the lawyers seek to prove a pattern of coverups, MPR News notes.

For months, archdiocese has been under a barrage of fire from critics about its handling of priest abuse scandals, which has been the subject of an MPR News investigation.

The St. Paul archdiocese in December released a list of priests credibly suspected of abuse, but lawyers for victims have sought more documents.

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