Lawsuit claims Vatican withheld papers in abuse case
Attorney asserts Church acted as priest’s employer
August 23, 2011 By Steve Karnowski, Associated Press
An attorney for a man who claims he was sexually abused by an Oregon priest in the 1960s said yesterday that the Vatican failed to produce all court-ordered documents in the case, and that papers it did turn over show how the Vatican exercises firm control over the placement and removal of offending priests.
Both claims were quickly disputed by a church lawyer who said the Vatican gave Minnesota-based attorney Jeffrey Anderson all its documents pertaining to the late Rev. Andrew Ronan. Anderson has sued on behalf of a man who alleges Ronan abused him during the time the priest was assigned to Portland, Ore.
The Vatican gave Anderson more than 1,800 pages of documents last Friday, marking the first time the Vatican provided documents in response to a sex abuse lawsuit. But Anderson contends that relevant documents written by Vatican officials were left out because local dioceses have produced their own copies of such paperwork in this and other cases.
Anderson, who has filed numerous lawsuits nationwide on behalf of alleged victims of priest abuse, is trying to hold the Vatican responsible under US and Oregon law for the abuse alleged by a Washington state man identified only as John V. Doe. He argues that the Vatican was effectively Ronan’s employer when the alleged abuse occurred in the mid-1960s. Ronan died in 1992.
An employment relationship could trigger an exception to a federal law that usually bars lawsuits against foreign sovereign entities such as the Vatican.