Judge rules to keep depositions in priest abuse cases sealed

MILWAUKEE -- A judge in Federal Bankruptcy Court ruled Thursday, April 5th to keep all depositions in priest abuse cases against the Milwaukee Archdiocese sealed.

Judge Susan Kelley heard arguments from church lawyers who asked the Court to keep sealed new court depositions of top church officials, including bishops Rembert Weakland and Richard Sklba.

Lawyers for the victims in these cases wanted the depositions unsealed. They say doing so would allow the public to see what the church knew or didn't know -- and what was done or not done. "This is not a proud day to be a Catholic. This judge has made this about money. We have told you all along, this is not just about money. Everyone here deserves to know what happened," Peter Isely, spokesman with the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP) said Thursday.

However, lawyers for the Milwaukee Archdiocese said there is no guarantee if the documents were unsealed, names that were not supposed to be made public would be accidentally leaked. They also maintained this case is about getting claimants paid, not embarrassing victims. "We're focused on keeping the case moving forward, and on trying to get to a place where we can focus our client on mostly charitable ministries in the church," Frank Lococo, attorney for the Archdiocese said.

In the end, Judge Kelley said there is a risk that survivors will be identified and she does not want to take that risk.

"We have complete faith that you can try to bury the truth in secret archives. You can have a judge allow you to keep it in a vault somewhere. You can put a massive stone over it, and the truth will rise," Isely said.