ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Archdiocese of St. Louis must release the names of more than 100 church employees accused of sexual abuse over the past 20 years as part of a civil lawsuit it faces.
The denial of an archdiocese request upholds a St. Louis judge’s earlier decision. The names will be released only to an unnamed woman suing the diocese and her attorneys, not to the general public.
The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by a 19-year-old woman who claimed the abuse began when she was 5 years old and attended St. Cronan’s parish.
The priest, who was later defrocked, had been convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy at a parish in University City decades earlier. He then received treatment and was reassigned to St. Cronan’s.
Kenneth M. Chackes, the woman’s attorney, said in an interview he expects the release of names to be “very helpful.”
“Without seeing the names, it’s hard to know how many people complained about sex abuse by priests, and to know how the archdiocese responded,” he said.
As part of its appeal of the lower court ruling, the archdiocese subsequently released a list of 240 complaints made against 115 priests and other employees since 1986. A court order keeps the names sealed.
In a written statement, the archdiocese said it fought the release of names to “protect the privacy rights of all involved, including victims who had no connection to current litigation and who had expressed anonymity regarding their reported allegation.
“Although we share the disappointment of the many innocent individuals who will be affected by it, the Archdiocese of St. Louis will comply with the court order entered by the Missouri Supreme Court,” the statement reads.