Judge orders SNAP to turn over years of information

A judge overseeing a civil case against a Roman Catholic priest and the local diocese has formally ordered a victims advocacy group to turn over decades of information about its work.

In her written order filed this week, Jackson County Circuit Judge Ann Mesle directed the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and its national director, David Clohessy, to produce records going back more than 20 years.

The written order elaborates on directions she gave from the bench at a hearing last week, when she heard arguments from lawyers representing the Rev. Michael Tierney and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to compel the production of such documents.

The records also would be available for use in four other cases pending against Tierney, who has denied any wrongdoing, and possibly in cases against other priests in the Kansas City area and in Clinton, Mo.

In her order, Mesle said she expects a thorough search for responsive records.

“In light of the statements that SNAP has not searched for records of at least some individual plaintiffs, SNAP is ordered to make such a search before responding to discovery requests stating that there are no such records,” Mesle wrote.

She also approved a protective order directing that names and other personally identifiable information about anyone other than the plaintiffs be deleted from the records.

The records in question are almost identical to those she ordered Clohessy to produce at a January deposition, including documents in SNAP’s possession related to the diocese. They also include press releases and correspondence with reporters, the plaintiff and his lawyers, and members of the public.

She also ordered SNAP to produce correspondence with the public on the topic of “repressed memory,” but only as it relates to cases involving the local diocese. Earlier, defense lawyers had asked for all repressed-memory correspondence without any limitation.

Mesle also narrowed the focus of the document request slightly, saying records must pertain to “sexual and other misconduct of priests.”