Diocese to turn over 50 years of records

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(Host) The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington says the information it must provide in a lawsuit against a Vermont priest goes far beyond what it has given to the Attorney General’s office.

Superior Judge Matthew Katz Monday told church officials to produce files dating back more than 50 years as part of a civil case brought against the Reverend James McShane of Rutland. Forty-five year old Michael Bernier alleges that when he was an altar boy in Saint Albans, he was sexually abused by McShane.

A lawyer for the diocese says there are no plans to appeal the decision. William O’Brien says the information the court wants is much more extensive than that requested by the Attorney General’s office.

(O’Brien) “The court order is much broader in its scope. Our dealings with the attorney general have been limited to allegations of sexual abuse by priests against minors and by priests who are currently living. The judge’s ruling is requesting information about sexual activity of any priest since 1950, regardless of whether that person is living or not and regardless of the nature of that sexual abuse.”

(Host) O’Brien says he’s confident the files will show that the church was not negligent in its handling of misconduct charges against priests. Under the court order, the church files will not be made public.

The attorney general is continuing his investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against a number of active Vermont priests. To date, no charges have been filed.

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