The family of a slain Hudson, Wis., funeral home director has won its first legal battle with U.S. Catholic bishops to get the names of clergy accused of child molestation.
The Diocese of Wilmington, Del., one of 194 Catholic dioceses named in lawsuits filed across the country by the family in August, has agreed to release the names of 20 priests who have admitted sexually abusing minors or been found to have abused them.
"The suit (against the Wilmington Diocese) will be dismissed. They have come clean," Jeff Anderson, the family's St. Paul-based attorney, said Tuesday. The lawsuits are still pending in area dioceses, including Superior and La Crosse, and the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The names and locations of some 5,000 alleged child molesters — not money — are what the family of Dan O'Connell, who authorities say was killed by a Hudson priest in 2002, wanted when they filed the unprecedented lawsuits against the bishops.
The O'Connells filed suit after they became frustrated with what they saw as inaction by the Catholic Church to live up to its recent reforms and ensure that pedophiles can no longer enter or stay in the priesthood.
"The attitude and stubbornness of some of these bishops towards us is unbelievable," said Dan's brother Tom O'Connell Jr. "It makes you wonder what kind of men, what kind of religious men, they are. But it can be done. And one bishop has done it and there is now no excuse for the rest of them."
According to the lawsuit against every member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "The bishops and the USCCB have established a policy of harboring and protecting suspected child molesting agents, thereby endangering numerous children throughout the United States."
The lawsuits seek their names and locations so they can be publicized, which the O'Connells hope will help prevent clergy sex abuse. The Diocese of Wilmington published the names of the 20 priests in the Nov. 16 issue of its diocesan newspaper.
The O'Connells, in a letter sent Tuesday to Wilmington Bishop Michael Saltarelli, thanked him and called for more bishops to comply. [...Snip] Pioneer Press