File release is direct result of 2003 CA window

A Superior Court judge on Tuesday set September 10 as the deadline for Catholic religious orders to release confidential personnel files of members who were accused of sexually abusing children.  The files are related to lawsuits that have already been settled.

Attorney Raymond Boucher said the deadline affects more than 50 religious orders that operate independently from the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which has already  made public thousands of pages of files.

The order is part of litigation against the Los Angeles Archdiocese that resulted in a $660 million settlement.

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The archdiocese released personnel files about its priests within the past year, but files of the independent orders that report to the Vatican through a different authority structure had not been released.

The religious orders were defendants in the original lawsuits that alleged victims brought against the archdiocese in 2002 and 2003. The orders agreed to the same 2007 settlement that required the files to be released, but the logistics of the document release were litigated first with the archdiocese,  said Raymond Boucher, attorney for the plaintiffs.

With Tuesday’s order, the new files for as many as 100 priests and brothers will be made public as they are provided to the court, but no later than the Sept. 10 deadline, Boucher said.

The Association of Salesian Brothers, which operates Salesian High School in Boyle Heights, is the largest of the orders affected by the judge’s deadline. However, there are smaller religious orders that must also make records public, according to the ruling by Superior Court Judge Emile H. Elias.

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