Vatican asks for more time to produce abuse documents in John V. Doe v. Holy See

Vatican asks for more time to produce abuse documents in John V. Doe v. Holy See

(St. Paul, MN) Saying that most of the documents are in Latin, an attorney representing the Vatican in the only clergy abuse case granted access to previously kept secret documents in Rome, has asked a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon for an additional 60 days to produce the discovery granted by the court.

Jeff Anderson, St. Paul, Minnesota-based attorney who represents the Plaintiff said “the case has now been in the courts for nine years so we hope that this is not another attempt to delay.  The fact that they must provide these secret documents is a big deal.”

In addition to admitting that the Vatican has responsive documents in Latin, the request also cites the multitude of discovery granted that “implicates various departments of the Roman Curia, which complicates the process” of collection.  The information and documents will be the first time the Vatican has be required to answer for its role in priest sex abuse.

Facts and Procedural History
John V. Doe was allegedly abused multiple times in 1965, when he was a minor, by Father Andrew Ronan, in Portland, Oregon. Before Portland, Father Ronan was caught by Catholic Church officials sexually molesting seminarians in Ireland and children in Chicago.  John V. Doe brought suit in federal district court against the Servites, a religious order, and the Holy See, which is the head of the Catholic Church.

The claims against the Holy See included vicarious liability for the acts of its instrumentalities and domestic corporations, respondeat superior for the actions of Ronan as an alleged employee of the Holy See, and direct liability based on the Holy See’s own negligence in retention and supervision of Ronan, and its failure to warn of his harmful propensities. In response, the Holy See claimed sovereign immunity from suit under the FSIA and moved the court to dismiss the case.

The United States District Court for the District of Oregon denied the motion to dismiss and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also denied the Holy See’s motion.  As a result, the Holy See petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case on appeal.  The Supreme Court denied the petition which allowed the case to move to discovery in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, Attorney for the Plaintiff in John V. Doe versus Holy See, is an internationally known St. Paul, Minnesota-based trial lawyer widely recognized as a pioneer in sexual abuse litigation and has earned a reputation as a tireless champion of civil rights for children and the under-privileged. One of the first trial lawyers in America to publicly and aggressively initiate suits against religious organizations and hold them responsible by utilizing the American civil justice system, Anderson has represented thousands of survivors of sexual abuse by authority figures and clergy.

Attorney and Professor Marci Hamilton is one of the United States’ leading church/state legal scholars, an expert on child sex abuse statutes of limitations, and a leading advocate for children.  She resides in Bucks County.  Hamilton has represented clergy sex abuse victims before the Wisconsin, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Illinois Supreme Courts, and in the Portland, Spokane, San Diego, and Milwaukee diocesan bankruptcies.  She briefed and argued the John V. Doe v. Holy See case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and briefed the issues before the United States Supreme Court.  Her column on church-state issues appears weekly at, and her website tracks the nationwide movement to eliminate the statutes of limitations for child sex abuse.  She was an independent consultant to District Attorney Lynne Abraham for the 2005 Grand Jury Report on clergy abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Professor Hamilton holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, and is the author of God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press 2005), and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge 2008).  She clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the United States Supreme Court.