W.Va. monsignor must testify in church abuse trial

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- An aide to West Virginia's Catholic bishop was ordered to testify in a clergy sexual abuse trial under way in Philadelphia when a state judge declared him "a necessary and material witness."Ohio County Circuit Judge Ronald Wilson issued the ruling late Thursday and Monsignor Kevin Quirk's attorney, William Kolibash, provided it to The Associated Press on Friday.Kolibash referred further questions to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston."We needed to have a valid legal process, which we do now have," the diocese said in an email. "Accordingly, Monsignor Quirk will appear."Wilson's order says Quirk must appear in Common Pleas Court between April 29 and May 1 in the case against the Rev. James BrennanQuirk was the presiding canonical judge at a church trial for Brennan, who now is in civilian criminal court for an alleged 1996 child sex assault that he denies. Brennan's co-defendant, Monsignor William Lynn, is the first U.S. church official charged with child abuse and endangerment, for allegedly protecting predators in clerical collars.The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office couldn't subpoena Quirk directly because he lives outside Pennsylvania. It needed a West Virginia judge to issue the subpoena.
Quirk had fought the petition to appear, citing the confidentiality of the proceedings and denying that he was a material witness. Wilson ruled that he is, and that his testimony "is essential in ascertaining the truth."The judge also said he believes Quirk's absence "could cause the defendants' constitutional rights to confrontation and meaningful cross-examination to be lost." The Pennsylvania court also has assured officials that Quirk won't be arrested while in the state, Wilson said.Whether testimony from the church trial is privileged information will be for the Pennsylvania court to decide, Wilson wrote. He noted, however, that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia already has released a transcript of those proceedings to the district attorney."Thus," he wrote, "it has already been disclosed by the church."The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said it is pleased with the judge's ruling but disappointed that "it's taking a judge's order to get Catholic officials to do their simple, civic duty -- honor a subpoena."Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania trial caused a stir in West Virginia when a witness claimed that Bishop Michael Bransfield also sexually abused boys.The leader of West Virginia's 76,000 Catholics denied that accusation Thursday and said he's deeply saddened by a scandal that's been linked to former colleagues and friends from a Pennsylvania seminary from where he graduated in 1971.Bransfield was anointed the eighth bishop of West Virginia in February 2005 at age 61. He had spent the previous 15 years at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., first as director of liturgy and later as rector.
Show All Comments Hide All Comments

User Comments

More News