Court: Albany diocese must release priest treatment files

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A recent court ruling has opened the door to the release of psychological treatment records of priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany accused of child sexual abuse.

The Albany Times-Union reported the ruling came in a lawsuit by an alleged abuse victim from the 1980s who sought records detailing the treatment received by the Rev. Edward Pratt and other priests.

The diocese had argued that the records were subject to patient-physician privilege, but the appeals court wrote last Thursday that the privilege was waived because the priests' records had been shared with then-Bishop Howard J. Hubbard.

The appellate court also upheld a lower court judge's decision that ordered the diocese to turn over personnel records of dozens of priests determined to have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse from the 1940s through the 1990s, as well as notes of investigators hired by the diocese to look into sexual abuse allegations, the newspaper reported.

"The claims of the victims-survivors remain the highest priority of the diocese. The guidance and orders provided by the courts are respected and followed with compliance," the diocese said Thursday in a statement, the Times-Union reported.

Last month, the same lower court judge ordered the release of a deposition taken last year in which Hubbard acknowledged covering up allegations of sexual abuse against children by priests.

Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago. In his testimony, Hubbard said part of the reason he didn't report allegations of sexual abuse was to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the diocese.

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