Abuse Victims Group Ordered to Turn Over Files to Lawyers Representing Accused Priests
A group that supports sexual abuse victims will have to turn over decades of records to lawyers representing accused Roman Catholic priests, a Jackson County judge said Friday.
The judge agreed, however, to limit the amount of information that the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests will have to search and disclose.
The broad demand for records going back more than 20 years has drawn national attention to the case, with some accusing the Catholic Church of bullying a victim advocacy group. Others have criticized the advocacy group, known as SNAP, for demanding transparency from the church while explaining little about its own role in holding the church to account.
Among a host of issues at play in the lawsuits, defense lawyers want to know whether SNAP has been coaching victims and potential plaintiffs on the controversial topic of repressed memory.
SNAP has denied doing so. But if defense lawyers can prove that the plaintiffs did not actually repress and later remember decades-old sexual abuse, judges would have to throw out the lawsuits under a five-year statute of limitations that the Missouri Supreme Court reaffirmed in 2006.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Ann Mesle said that a broad request for records suited the long timelines of this case, which alleges clergy sexual abuse of a 13-year-old boy in the 1970s.