A spokesman for a Maine church advocacy group said he hopes the release of names and abuse allegations involving 18 deceased priests will promote healing and offer vindication.

He also hopes it leads to the release of allegations against living priests.

Last week, Blethen Maine Newspapers won its lawsuit against the Attorney General’s Office, requiring the office to share information handed over to it by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

Spokesman Chuck Dow said Wednesday that the Attorney General’s Office had not yet received an order from Superior Court to release the 82-page document. Names of victims and family members will be removed before the release.

According to court records, documents contain allegations dating from the 1930s to 1983.

Michael Sweatt, spokesperson for Voice of the Faithful Maine, said he anticipates more people will come forward after those names are public, people who had assumed their aggressors were already named among the accused.

“We firmly believe the names of all who have credible allegations against them,” he said, “should be released.”

Sweatt said the disclosure should give vindication to people whose parents did not believe them when they complained of abuse decades ago.

“Children would come forward and say, ‘Father touched me.’ Parents would slap the kids, ‘Don’t say that again, Father’s a holy man,'” Sweatt said.

Jonathan Piper, attorney for the Blethen papers, said the lawsuit was filed two years ago at the height of the priest abuse scandal in the United States. “It wasn’t clear what had gone on in Maine,” he said. The papers “wanted to see if there was an underlying story there.”

In its ruling, the Maine Supreme Court ruled the records ought to be open because they are “necessary for the public to understand why the attorney general exercised his discretion not to pursue criminal prosecutions in connection with the sexual abuse allegations.”


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