LOS ANGELES (AP/CBSLA.com) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has said the names of church leaders who made key decisions on how to deal with cases of sexual abuse by priests will not be blacked out in some 30,000 soon-to-be-released pages of confidential personnel files.
The archdiocese originally planned to black out the names of bishops, vicars for clergy and priests in documents that will be handed over to victims for ongoing litigation.
But on Wednesday, the church reversed its decision in an effort to promote transparency.
"We have chosen to remove redactions of those key individuals on every document . . . . There will be no ambiguity," Archdiocese attorney Michael Hennigan said in a statement.
The decision comes after a five-year legal battle over priests' privacy rights and more recently, a court dispute involving victims, the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press.
The first round of 14 priest files was released two weeks ago as part of an unrelated civil lawsuit.
Key names in those files were not redacted and showed retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top officials worked to protect sexually abusive priests and the church.
The documents also say church officials failed to alert parishioners of the sexual abuse.
A record-breaking $660 million settlement in 2007 set the stage for the release of the personnel files, which contain letters among top church officials, accused priests and archdiocese attorneys, complaints from parents, medical and psychological records and — in some cases — correspondence with the Vatican.
"They completely ignored the children and left them to just twist in the wind while they hunkered down, covered up and protected themselves," Raymond Boochay, an attorney representing the victims, told KNX 1070.
The remainder of the 30,000 files will be released before Feb. 22.
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