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Inspection of Church Records

Can a church avoid the inspection of its records by placing them in a "secret archive"?


Can a church avoid inspection of its records in a civil lawsuit by placing them in a location that it designates as a "secret archive"?

No, concluded a Pennsylvania appeals court. A Catholic priest, and his bishop, church, and diocese, were sued on account of the alleged sexual molestation of a minor child by the priest. The victim claimed that the bishop, church, and diocese were legally responsible since they "negligently hired or retained" the priest and assigned him to a church "when they knew or should have known of his pedophilic tendencies."

In preparation for trial, the victim's attorney sought to inspect documents in the possession of the diocese pertaining to the sexual misconduct of priests with male children for the years 1972 through 1987. The victim's attorney also sought to inspect any records pertaining to the priest who allegedly molested ...

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  • November 2, 1992

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