Connecticut diocese comments on Supreme Court refusal to hear appeal to prevent release of sex-abuse records

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected requests to hear an appeal to stop the release of records of sex-abuse lawsuits against priests in the Bridgeport, Connecticut diocese. The diocese has been working for years to keep the records secret. -DB

Diocese of Bridgeport
Press Release
November 2, 2009

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Diocese of Bridgeport today issued the following statement in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision not to grant a writ of certiorari:

“We were disappointed to learn that the United States Supreme Court has decided not to hear our case. The Court reviews only about 80 cases out of more than 10,000 cases presented, and regularly reminds the public that it must decline to review many cases that were wrongly decided by the lower courts. Unfortunately, ours was one of those cases.

“We continue to believe that the constitutional issues presented, including the First Amendment rights of religious organizations and the privacy rights of all citizens, are significant and important for the Court to consider.

“This legal proceeding always has been about the future, not the past. The information and essential facts contained in the documents at issue stem from misconduct occurring primarily in the 1960s and 1970s. Details about these cases have been well-covered in the public domain through more than 200 media reports.

“Further, a true culture change has been effected across the Church regarding our knowledge of and ability to deal with sexual abuse. We have worked diligently and transparently to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse, and we remain committed to reaching out to support those who have been harmed and doing everything in our power to provide Safe Environments for children.”

Becket Fund brief

In a brief as amicus curiae supporting the Diocese’s petition seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court, the non-denominational Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty has explained: “First and foremost, the right of church autonomy promotes religious liberty by protecting churches from state interference with their internal affairs.”

Beckett also explains the dangers posed by the Connecticut court’s ruling that, by cooperating with the claimants during confidential pre-trial proceedings, the Diocese had unintentionally waived its First Amendment rights: “An inadvertent waiver rule poses several threats to church control over internal affairs – not only in this case, but in church autonomy cases more generally.”

Next Step

The Diocese presently is working with the Connecticut courts to assure the materials are appropriately unsealed.

Additional information about the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Diocese’s comprehensive protection and prevention efforts in place to ensure the safety of children can be found on