Bishop Agrees to Hand Over All Allegations

April 11, 2002


New York Times

Prodded by prosecutors, Bishop Thomas V. Daily, head of the
Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, said yesterday that he
would give them the names of all priests in his
jurisdiction who had been accused of sexually violating
minors in the last 20 years. And shifting the diocese's
stance, he promised to funnel any future accusations
directly to prosecutors.

Bishop Daily had resisted handing over the information, a
step taken by bishops around the country as the priest sex
scandal has continued to fire the anger of Catholics and
the zeal of prosecutors. Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New
York handed over old cases last week and Bishop William
Murphy on Long Island did so on March 28.

"I am doing so as it represents the best way to cooperate
with the spirit of the law," said Bishop Daily in a news
release. The first names will go out Friday to the district
attorneys of Brooklyn and Queens, the two boroughs that
make up the Diocese of Brooklyn with its 1.6 million
Catholics. "We will cooperate with them in any
investigations they may wish to pursue."

Taking action against abusive priests is especially
sensitive for the bishop.

While a top official of the Boston archdiocese nearly 20
years ago, he played a role in allowing a serial molester,
the Rev. John J. Geoghan, to continue serving in parishes
despite complaints about the priest, court documents show.
Bishop Daily has apologized for not acting more forcefully.

The bishop's spokesman, Frank DeRosa, said that all new
allegations would be turned over immediately to the
district attorney.

In the past, charges were handled internally. The policy
goes beyond new guidelines issued by Cardinal Egan, who
established a special committee to decide whether to turn
over a particular case.

Nearly a month ago, the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles
J. Hynes, called publicly for cooperation from the diocese
after Bishop Daily had made it clear he would not volunteer
old case files.

On March 28, after a Holy Thursday Mass in honor of the
diocese's priests, the bishop was pressed by reporters
about Mr. Hynes's request. He pointed out that he had not
heard directly from the district attorney.

"No phone call, no letter, or anything like that," Bishop
Daily said. "I'll deal with it when it comes."

The direct contact finally came during a meeting on Tuesday
between diocese officials and representatives of Mr. Hynes.

A meeting with officials from the office of the Queens
district attorney, Richard A. Brown, took place on Monday.

Yesterday, Mr. Hynes said that he was pleased by the
diocese's promise to deliver old cases as well as to
provide new allegations "without conditions." Mr. Brown
called the announcement a "positive and productive step."

The formal requests, coupled with promises of
confidentiality, contributed to the bishop's decision to
turn over the names, Mr. DeRosa said yesterday.

"He was concerned about the confidentiality question," Mr.
DeRosa said. "That's sort of pivotal."

The safety of children was the church's main concern,
Bishop Daily said in yesterday's statement, but he added,
"We are also concerned that there be no breach of the
confidentiality and privacy that many persons have sought
when making allegations to the diocese."

Church officials around the country have often stressed
that one reason they do not immediately turn over sex abuse
charges to prosecutors is that they are compelled to
protect the confidentiality of the accuser as well as the

The accusers in old cases will be asked for their
permission before the diocese hands over their files, Mr.
DeRosa said.

But in future cases, the diocese will carry the charges
straight to prosecutors, regardless of whether the accusers
object, he said.

As in other dioceses, many questions remained about just
what information was being handed over and how significant
it was. Mr. DeRosa said that prosecutors would receive a
synopsis of a case and would be given further information
if they asked for it.

Bishop Daily did not say how many cases were involved from
the last 20 years, what the nature of the allegations were
or when they were said to have occurred. Most of the abuse
cases now emerging around the country occurred too long ago
to prosecute because of statutes of limitation.

Nevertheless, gaining access to old case files could be
fruitful, prosecutors say. Even if some cases fall beyond
the statute of limitations, technical loopholes could be
found to allow prosecutors and the police to learn about
the presence of potential child molesters.

Bishop Daily has said that the number of accused priests is
"very low." At least five living priests who were attached
to the diocese or who have worked in it are known to have
been accused of sex abuse of minors. Two were convicted of
crimes, two disciplined by the diocese and one was cleared.