The Diocese of Bridgeport is involved in a protracted legal battle to keep the personnel files of some of its employees private and plans to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The diocese argues that granting the request of several major newspapers to unseal the files violates privacy rights and the First Amendment.
The lawsuit, Rosada v. Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., is being brought by several newspapers, including the New York Times. The publications are attempting to gain access to personnel files in order to determine how the recently retired Cardinal Edward Egan handled sexual abuse cases while he was the Bishop of Bridgeport.
The diocese maintains that access to the files should not be granted because doing so would reveal personal information that is not relevant to the sex abuse cases.
Additionally, diocesan officials point out that the files related to sex abuse allegations were available prior to a 2001 settlement on the more than 20 lawsuits. The files were sealed by the court following the settlement.
In a July 17 statement the Diocese of Bridgeport said, “We note at the outset that the Rosado matter involves cases long settled by the Diocese involving allegations that date back to the 1960’s and 1970’s. The attorneys and victims had access to the sealed documents at issue.”
“As a matter of fact,” the statement says, “the cases, and the settlement of them, were exhaustively reported on by the media. The names of the accused priests involved in this matter as well as the names of all abuser priests were made public in 2002 by Bishop William E. Lori and again in 2003 when a second global settlement was reached.”
Also at issue, the diocese asserts, are First Amendment rights which prohibit the State from intervening in Church matters. These rights would be waived if the Church is forced by the court to present the documents.
The Diocese of Bridgeport is appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court following a decision by the Connecticut State Supreme Court that it must released the 12,000 pages of documentation.