Dallas, Fort Worth Papers Seek to Unseal Records in Church-Abuse Case

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(AP) The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram have asked a judge to unseal records of sexual abuse allegations against priests who worked in the Fort Worth Catholic Diocese.

Tarrant County District Judge Len Wade ordered the diocese to surrender the records last year in a lawsuit that accused Bishop Joseph Delaney of employing known predators.

But the judge kept the records secret and ordered the plaintiffs to do the same. The newspapers say the records should be unsealed because they concern public health and safety.

“We’re not aware of any authority for putting these documents under seal and believe that the public not only has a right to see these documents but also would be interested in their contents,” said David Starr, deputy general counsel for Belo Corp., which owns the Morning News.

The diocese recently agreed to settle the lawsuit, without admitting wrongdoing, by paying two accusers of the Rev. Thomas Teczar a total of $4.15 million.

Delaney employed Teczar from the late 1980s to the early 1990s after a Massachusetts diocese barred him from ministry because of misconduct with boys.

Documents sought by the newspapers regard other priests, whom public court files don’t name.

In a letter to parishioners last year, Delaney said eight clerics who worked in the diocese after its 1969 founding have been accused of “improper sexual behavior with a minor.” He did not name them.

The bishop’s attorney did not return a telephone call seeking comment on the newspapers’ petition.

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