Judge Orders Archdiocese to Turn Over Records on Howard Hubbard

A state Supreme Court justice has ordered the Archdiocese of New York to turn over roughly 1,400 pages of internal records related to its investigations of Howard J. Hubbard, rejecting the organization’s arguments that the documents regarding the former Albany bishop are constitutionally protected under the religious clauses of the First Amendment.

State Supreme Court Justice L. Michael Mackey, citing court decisions dismissing similar arguments that have been invoked by the Catholic church to try and shield internal files on priests accused of child sexual abuse, noted the case involves allegations of child molestation and not an internal church dispute or employment matter. He said that under pre-trial discovery rules, the records should be treated the same as disciplinary files for a rank-and-file priest.

“To hold otherwise would require courts to conclude that ecclesiastical principles could reasonably impose or suggest different requirements for the protection of children from sexual molestation, than the requirements generally imposed by society,” Mackey wrote in the decision, issued Monday. “If the First Amendment does not shield religious organizations from actions involving alleged sexual misconduct, then it follows that it does not protect against application of discovery rules to uncover relevant material in files related to that alleged misconduct.”

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