Secret Files Released

Milwaukee Archdiocese posts priest sex abuse records

CREATED Jul. 1, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul. 1, 2013

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has released thousands of pages of documents related to clergy sex abuse.

The records posted on the archdiocese's website Monday include priests' personnel files and depositions of church leaders.

The allegations involve minors. In at least one case, a priest is accused of sexually assaulting a minor between 25 to 40 times in five years.

One priest in particular, Father Lawrence Murphy, molested as many as 200 deaf boys while he was in charge of the St. John School for the Deaf in St. Francis. Two of the deaf victims tell TODAY'S TMJ4's Mike Jacobs that Father Murphy would come into their rooms and molest them, or call them into his office and molest them there.

In some cases, the Archdiocese offered payments to priests to get them to retire - up to $20,000.

The documents are being made public as part of a deal between the archdiocese and sex abuse victims suing it for fraud. Victims say the archdiocese transferred problem priests to new churches without warning parishioners and covered up priests' crimes for decades.

Victims say making the information public is an important step in their healing.

Jerry Topczewski, the Archbishop's Chief of Staff, told TODAY'S TMJ4's Charles Benson:

"It's important for us to have this information out there because there's always a question of credibility, will people believe. We've learned over the years that a big issue for abuse survivors fear that no one will believe them."

Archbishop Listecki released a statement, saying -

“My hope in voluntarily making these documents public is that they will aid abuse survivors, families, and others in understanding the past, reviewing the present and allowing the Church in southeastern Wisconsin to continue moving forward. “We can never tell abuse survivors enough how sorry we are for what they endured.”

But the collection also has drawn interest because of the involvement of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the former archbishop of Milwaukee and -- as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- the nation's most prominent Roman Catholic official.

Dolan released a statement, saying in part: 

“I welcome today’s voluntary release of documents by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that contain information and details related to sexual abuse by clergy, and how the Archdiocese of Milwaukee responded to it. I am especially grateful that my deposition of February 2013, given as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, is one of the documents being released."

Read the documents here (the Archdiocese website has been up and down all day, keep trying back)