HARRISBURG — A lawyer for a group of unnamed clergy members is alleging in a new court filing that the state Attorney General's Office leaked grand jury material and engaged in a relentless media campaign that irrevocably deprived them of their due-process rights.
In a 95-page brief filed with the state Supreme Court this week, attorney Justin Danilewitz alleged that the leaks "publicly revealed the identities of two" clergy members whose information is shielded from the redacted version of a state grand jury report on clergy abuse in six of the state's eight Roman Catholic dioceses.
Citing secrecy concerns, Danilewitz did not describe the alleged leaks or to whom they were made, but wrote that he could provide the Supreme Court with additional material under seal. He did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The Attorney General's Office said it had been diligent in keeping grand jury information private.
"During the course of this massive, two-year investigation, the Office of Attorney General has worked diligently to abide by grand jury secrecy requirements and the Supreme Court's orders in this matter," spokesperson Joe Grace said. "That diligence is ongoing."
Danilewitz represents current and former clergy members who this summer sought to block the release of portions of the grand jury report that pertain to them, arguing that their due process rights had been violated. They argued that the report was inaccurate or unjustly tarnished their reputations.
Last month, the Supreme Court, following a legal filing by 10 media organizations, agreed to release a redacted copy of the report while it considers the case. Arguments are scheduled for Sept. 26.
In the petition, made public Wednesday, Danilewitz asked the high court to block the release of the full report.
Grace said that the Attorney General's Office would continue to fight for the release of the full report.
In his brief, Danilewitz contends that the clergy members who were named in the report but whose identities remain shielded from the public can no longer get any "meaningful due process" if the redacted portions of the sweeping report are publicly released.
In addition, Danilewitz contended that the purpose of the report is to shame his clients by naming them and "identifying them collectively as 'predator priests,' " which he argues creates a lifetime stigma and marks them as sex offenders without a criminal conviction. That, combined with the lack of an opportunity to have an evidentiary hearing, deprives his clients of their due-process rights, he argued.
"The [Office of the Attorney General] has overseen, controlled, and orchestrated every step of this process, from the investigation to the choreographed media campaign that followed," Danilewitz wrote. "The incurable errors … are of the OAG's own making. Humpty Dumpty cannot be put back together again."