Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Puerto Rico Supreme Court Upholds Subpoenas Against Church In Part

In Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Puerto Rico-Arecibo v. Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, 2014 PR Sup. LEXIS 87 (PR Sup. Ct., July 14, 2014), the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico decided a challenge by the Catholic Church to subpoenas issued to obtain information given to the diocese by victims of clergy sexual abuse.  The opinion and dissents, in Spanish, are summarized by AP in a July 15 article:
The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico has found that a Roman Catholic diocese does not need to share information about alleged sexual abuse by its priests if the victims are adults who wish to maintain their privacy.
The Diocese of Arecibo in northern Puerto Rico had sought to protect the identities of parishioners who made allegations against its priests. The diocese has defrocked six priests over such claims.
The court also states that information that came from private confessions may remain confidential.
In its ruling Monday the court also said the diocese must share information with prosecutors in cases where the alleged victims are younger than 18. In cases involving adults, the diocese must allow the alleged victims to decide whether to share information about the case with prosecutors.