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VOL. 124 | NO. 64 | Thursday, April 2, 2009

UPDATE: McPherson To Review Priest Court Records For Public Release

By Bill Dries

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Circuit Court Judge Charles McPherson will determine what details should be made public in court records from a civil lawsuit involving the sexual abuse of a teenager by a Memphis priest.

McPherson ruled Thursday on a motion by The Daily News and The Commercial Appeal seeking to open court records as well as depositions taken in the case involving Father Juan Carlos Duran.

“As they say at the newspapers, I’m going to take a blue pencil to it,” McPherson told attorneys in the case.

The newspapers filed the motion after a $2 million settlement was announced earlier this year in a John Doe civil lawsuit filed in 2004 against the Catholic Diocese of Memphis and the Dominican religious order, of which Duran was a member.

The lawsuit alleged that the Diocese and the Dominicans either knew or should have known that Duran was a danger to children. John Doe was 14 years old when Duran repeatedly sexually abused him. The boy filed the lawsuit in 2004 when he turned 18 years old.

The settlement was made final Thursday before McPherson took up the matter of opening records in the case.

Attorneys for the Diocese and the Dominicans argued that sealing the records and maintaining a protective order was part of the settlement reached with the plaintiff.

But attorney Gary K. Smith, who represents John Doe, refuted that.

“I filed some information so that it could be made public,” he told McPherson. “There were no negotiations and no agreement on that, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a settlement. This never came up. … They were expecting me to go away.”

Read more about the decision and what comes next in Friday's edition of The Daily News.

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