Lawyers respond after clergy sex abuse documents released

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WITI) -- On a day when thousands of pages of documents were released, detailing the role of the Milwaukee Archdiocese in sex abuse cases involving clergy, the group largely responsible for the release of information responded: Minnesota lawyers representing hundreds of Milwaukee's clergy sex abuse victims.

The Minnesota attorneys on Monday, July 1st applauded the courage of clergy sex abuse survivors, people they hope are feeling a sense of relief and hope after the release of these secret documents.

"They have each done something to contribute to the protection of kids in the future," Jeff Anderson said.

Anderson is the St. Paul attorney who represents many of the victims of sex abuse by priests who served in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Anderson says many of the victims called Monday their day of triumph.

"They have done something that the archbishops should have done, that the Vatican refused to do -- they have stood up and spoken the truth," Anderson said.

Anderson's office whittled down 40,000 pages worth of documents for public release -- documents Anderson says show a pattern of putting the need for secrecy above the needs of the victims.

"It’s a pattern and a practice. It’s a reputation protection program. It’s a perpetrator protection program," Anderson said.

Anderson says while it took a month-and-a-half for the Vatican to approve the transfer of millions of dollars into a trust, it took years for the Vatican to approve the removal of accused and even convicted priests.

"So the concern is about what?  Appearance and secrecy," Anderson said.

Anderson says this is not the end of his firm's push for more information on clergy abuse. He believes the documents released Monday reflect just a fraction of the problem in our country, and is calling for similar transparency from other archdioceses.

"The bad news: This is only a partial revelation, and the work continues," Anderson said.