Attorneys for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and “attorneys for certain clients,” i.e., Jeff Anderson and Associates, will be in the courtroom of Chief Judge Susan V. Kelley of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin Thursday, Jan. 15, as she hears a motion filed by Anderson to compel the archdiocese to produce unredacted documents and proof of claims forms relevant to the archdiocese’s latest motions for summary judgment. 

“The unredacted documents and proof of claim forms contain the identities of witnesses with discoverable information relevant to certain claimants’ opposition to the archdiocese’s motions for summary judgment,” Anderson argued in the Jan. 8 motion. “As such, certain claimants respectfully request the court to compel the archdiocese to produce the unredacted documents and relevant proof of claim forms.” 

Four days later, attorneys for the archdiocese responded, noting that it was following the orders of the court in not releasing documents with unredacted names.

The bar date (Feb. 1, 2012, by which victims could file claims) order “provides that confidential abuse survivor proofs of claim are confidential and that only certain ‘permitted parties’ can have access to the confidential abuse survivor proofs of claim,” the archdiocese’s attorneys wrote, noting that an individual claimant’s attorneys were not “permitted parties” and could only have access to the proofs for the claimants they represent. 

The archdiocesan attorneys wrote that the confidentiality agreement, which all people with the confidential abuse survivor proofs of claim signed, “prohibits the debtor (archdiocese) from providing copies of the confidential abuse survivor proofs of claim to the Anderson firm.”

“Our opposition to providing unredacted documents is about protecting the privacy and the identity of abuse survivors and their families,” said Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, in a release Tuesday, Jan. 13. “It should be up to individual abuse survivors to decide if they want to be publicly identified.”

He said the archdiocese provided sworn affidavits it did not have any prior notice about certain perpetrators.  

“State Court Counsel (Jeff Anderson and Associates) has no evidence to dispute that sworn testimony. Thus, they are searching beyond a needle in a haystack to develop a theory and are willing to put the confidentiality of abuse survivors’ identity at risk,” Topczewski said, adding the archdiocese was not willing to “out” an abuse survivor who has no interest in being identified.

He said Anderson and Associates’ “motivation for obtaining unredacted documents is to access names of other abuse survivors so they can contact them and possibly subpoena them to sit for sworn testimony in an open proceeding.”  

Topczewski said the reason Anderson and Associates is asking for discovery is that “there is no evidence to support their fraud theory.” He added they had reviewed “tens of thousands” of pages and had access to “over 350 potential witnesses – their own clients.” 

“The discovery they are asking for does not support their fraud theory either. These are not documents that show the archdiocese had previous knowledge, rather, the documents show that abuse survivors never told anyone about the abuse,” Topczewski said.

He added that Anderson and Associates want “to contact individuals out of the blue; interview them; and make them testify in open court.”

Topczewski said Anderson and Associates had already received the documents in redacted form.

“(They) have unredacted copies of all the claims for each of their approximately 350 clients. For the remaining claimants, they already have redacted versions of all proofs of claim,” he said, noting that some of the redacted names were claimants in the proceeding. 

“Why should those individuals run the risk of being publicly identified to anyone?” Topczewski said.

He said the archdiocese will not betray the confidence of abuse survivors and their families who were promised confidentiality when they contacted the archdiocese.

“That identity protection is a cornerstone of any successful outreach program and the archdiocese has provided such outreach since the late 1980s,” Topczewski said. “Suddenly identifying unknowing abuse survivors would be shameful.”

A separate motion filed Jan. 8 by Anderson and Associates asked the court to reschedule the hearing date, Tuesday, Feb. 10, regarding the archdiocese’s motions for summary judgment and to modify the briefing schedule.

In its response asking to have the motion denied, the archdiocese’s attorneys stated, “The Anderson firm has delayed the resolution of any claims-related issues for four years.”

They termed the motion to reschedule “part of a pattern of conduct designed to delay resolution of any claims issues in this case.”

Noting that the court had resolved or would be resolving asset issues relevant to the confirmation of the reorganization plan, the attorneys wrote, “…all that remains to determine is which claimants are legally entitled to the funds that the debtor has been able to accumulate through the various settlements incorporated into the plan.”