Archdiocese Begins Handing over Church Files on Accused Priests

Updated: 04/02/2014 7:00 AM By: Josh Rosenthal

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Monday night started handing over what will eventually add up to more than 60,000 documents related to priests accused of sexual abuse. They're part of a court case scheduled to go to trial in September.

"This represents a real turning point in this process. We're beginning to see real action," University of St. Thomas Professor of Law Charles Reid said. He says the documents tell a story, but it will be up to the plaintiff's attorney, Jeff Anderson, to connect the dots.

"I think what we'll see is a tug of war," Reid said. That will start Wednesday, when Archbishop John Nienstedt will be deposed. That in itself is a very big deal -- think of Nienstedt as the CEO of the Twin Cities branch of the Catholic Church.

"This is a big position," Reid said. "It carries great power, great weight, great gravity, and obtaining his testimony is a huge step in this case."

It means the general public could start hearing more details soon, too. Last week, Anderson said he believes the church knows of offenders who have not been named publicly. He said he would ask the judge for permission to name them.

"Until they are known and revealed to the public - who they are, where they are, and what their history is - kids are not safe," Anderson said Friday.

The Archdiocese released a statement Monday night saying the files they turned over pertain to four former priests whose names were previously made public. The statement also said, in part, "the Archdiocese deeply regrets the egregious acts of these men and the unimaginable harm suffered by victims, their families and their communities."