The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a support group for alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy must turn over more than two decades of records to attorneys for an accused priest in Kansas City, The Wall Street Journal writes.
The judges let stand a lower-court order for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, to comply with a wide-ranging subpoena in connection with a civil suit against the Rev. Michael Tierney, who has been accused of molesting a minor in the early 1970s. He denies the allegations.
SNAP, with backing from other victims-rights groups, has fought the subpoena, saying it jeopardizes the privacy of alleged victims of abuse and is a pretext for church attorneys to use the organization’s confidential files to obstruct the work of bringing abuse cases to light.
Nearly two dozen groups, including the National Organization for Women Foundation and the National Center for Victims of Crime, said jointly in an amicus brief that the subpoena “has the capacity to set the survivor community back a minimum of 10, if not 20, years.”
Lawyers for the Rev. Tierney, who is no longer actively serving the church, say the files could shed light on alleged victims’ claims to have recovered repressed memories of abuse, on which the case against the priest hinges.