John P. Martin:
Court filing: Bevilacqua ordered shredding of memo identifying suspected abusers: Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing. The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese's Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month. They say the shredding directive proves what Lynn has long claimed: that a church conspiracy to conceal clergy sex abuse was orchestrated at levels far above him….
Prosecutors say that Lynn, as the secretary for clergy, recommended priests for assignments despite knowing or suspecting that they would sexually abuse children…. Lynn's lawyers argue that the new documents show he was one of the few church officials trying to confront the issue of abuse…. The result was his February 1994 memo that identified 35 priests suspected of abuse or pedophilia. Lynn allegedly gave it to his superior, Msgr. James Molloy, the assistant vicar for administration…. Bevilacqua discussed the memo in a March 15, 1994, meeting with Molloy and Bishop Edward P. Cullen, then the cardinal's top aide, the filing says. After the meeting, Bevilacqua allegedly ordered Molloy to shred the memo. One week later, Molloy allegedly destroyed four copies, with the Rev. Joseph Cistone as a witness. "This action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua," say Molloy's handwritten notes.
But Molloy apparently had second thoughts. Without telling anyone, he took a copy of the memo, and his notes, and placed them in a portable, locked safe.
According to the motion, that safe remained untouched and unnoticed until 2006, when archdiocesan officials found it and hired a locksmith to open it. It's unclear why the records inside were only recently turned over to Lynn's lawyers and prosecutors….
During 10 appearances before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004, Bevilacqua denied knowing details or playing a significant role in the handling of sex-abuse complaints, saying he delegated those duties to Lynn. "I saw no evidence at any time that we did any cover-up," he testified….
Lynn's lawyers also contend that Cistone, now the bishop of Saginaw, Mich., and Cullen, the retired bishop of Allentown, misled the grand jury by not acknowledging the memo or the cardinal's order to shred it…