Priest Abuse

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A Tarrant County judge has agreed to release some church documents concerning six priests accused of sexual abuse.

State District Judge Len Wade said yesterday that he'll first review the 600 pages of records to remove information identifying the accusers and church lay workers. He also said he'll withhold information related to the priests' health and finances.

The records of the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese were sealed last year as part of a lawsuit. The Fort Worth diocese settled the suit last year for more than four (M) million dollars.
But in an attempt to gain access to the accused priests' files, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Dallas Morning News intervened in that lawsuit. They argued that the records were public because the diocese had surrendered them during the civil case.

Paul Watler, an attorney for the newspapers, said the judge's decision was an important ruling "in favor of public disclosure."