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Calif. judge orders release of unredacted priest files

LOS ANGELES — A judge on Monday ordered the release of thousands of pages of personnel files that would identify Roman Catholic priests accused of child molestation and their leaders in the church.

The ruling by Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias contradicts a previous order in 2010 by another judge that allowed the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to redact the names of church leaders.

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Attorneys for the archdiocese previously said they planned to make the confidential files public by the middle of this month with the names of the church hierarchy blacked out. It was unclear how long it would take to adhere to the new ruling. Church attorneys expressed concern about examining 30,000 pages of documents.

Elias heard oral arguments before issuing her ruling. She continued to meet with attorneys after the hearing.

The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times intervened in the case in December and argued in court papers that the redactions would prevent the public from learning which church officials knew about abusive priests, how much they knew, and how they handled it.

Files released in other dioceses, such as Boston, have shown that the church shuffled priests among parishes without calling police.

More than 550 plaintiffs settled with the archdiocese in 2007 for a record-breaking $660 million, but the agreement called for a process to vet personnel files for future release.

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