Request to seal clergy sex abuse cases denied

The Hartford Courant reports that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has denied a request by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport to keep court files on clergy sex abuse cases sealed until the high court decides whether to take up their case in the fall.

The diocese is trying to keep sealed more than 12,600 pages of depositions, exhibits and legal arguments involving 23 lawsuits against seven priests from the Bridgeport diocese. Most of the lawsuits were filed in the mid-1990s. The lawsuits were settled in 2001 by the church for undisclosed amounts with the agreement that the settlements and the documents would remain sealed forever.

Four newspapers, including The Courant, filed a lawsuit to have the documents unsealed in 2002 when it was discovered they had not been destroyed by the judicial department.

This ruling may ultimately affect all similar cases in other denominations.

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