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Court invites possible 'witch hunt'

Becky Yeh - California correspondent   ( Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A California pro-family group hopes a ruling that allows the release of the names of abusive Catholic priests will not turn into a "witch hunt" against the church as a whole.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias ruled on Monday that personnel files identifying Roman Catholic priests who have been accused of child molestation be released. The ruling conflicts with a previous decision giving the Archdiocese of Los Angeles permission to redact the names of the church hierarchy.

Prentice, Ron (Calif. Family Council)It is uncertain how long it will take to comply with the new ruling, but Ron Prentice of the California Family Council expects an appeal.

"Of course we want the rule of law to stand, and we want the consequences to fall appropriately and justly, but I expect that even [this] ruling by this judge will be appealed," he comments.

Attorneys for the church plan to release the files mid-January with the names of church leaders blacked out. But the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press stepped in and argued that the redactions would keep the public from knowing how the church found out about the abusive priests and how those priests were disciplined.

Prentice hopes the ruling will not generate a "witch hunt."

"The issue [is] those priests in particular who acted unlawfully -- that should be the direction of the court's case," he contends. "I do get concerned that this becomes a witch hunt, and I agree that this would negatively impact the church as a whole. And I'm not sure that the purposes behind seeking all of the names to be made public are truly for the purposes of justice being done."

Archdiocese attorneys are concerned about going through the 30,000 pages of information.

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