A report on the decades-long clergy abuse of minors is incomplete due to the arrival of 37 boxes of unexamined files delivered the night before its release.
Twelve more boxes of unexamined files were delivered just days before the planned release date resulting in 49 boxes of files so far that were not examined in the investigation.
The report released Thursday named 11 Roman Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who are believed to have “substantiated” evidence against them for abuse of minors under their care.
Our previous post: Eleven named in Catholic clergy abuse report, none still active
The Archdiocese commissioned the McAfee & Taft law firm to conduct an investigation into allegations of abuse by its priests from 1960 through 2018. They were also asked to review the practices of the Archdiocese for investigating the claims.
In the report, the firm wrote that they had made repeated requests in writing and by phone for almost a year for Douglas Eason to turn over what the firm believed to be a large number of files in his possession covering key years of the investigation.
Eason was the outside general counsel for the Archdiocese from 2000 to 2018 and his wife, Loutitia Eason, also an attorney and now deceased was the Chancellor of the Archdiocese from 2001 to 2017. The chancellor is the in-house staff legal counsel for the Archbishop.
The report states that when Loutitia Eason retired in 2017, she erased her emails and took a number of boxes of Archdiocesan files with her.
When McAfee & Taft attempted to retrieve the files, Douglas Eason produced some files in January and promised to deliver others, but continued to push back the date telling investigators the files were almost ready but not delivering the files according to the report.
Eventually, the firm decided to proceed and issue a report.
But, when Eason delivered 12 more boxes of new material on September 23 the firm had to make a decision as to what strategy to take.
The report states,
Prior to hearing from Mr. Eason in early September, the firm had decided that it would identify the missing Archdiocese records in Mr. Eason’s possession to the best of its ability in its Report so that the public was aware of the limitations placed upon our firm by the missing records, but once Mr. Eason offered to finally produce the records, the firm had to decide whether to review and investigate the new records that had previously been withheld before issuing its report or deal with them in a later report.
Once the 37 boxes of files were delivered, the firm advised the Archdiocese to wait until the firm had reviewed all 49 boxes of materials and any others Eason may produce beyond Thursday.
Church officials and the firm grew concerned that Eason could hold off the report indefinitely by delivering files piecemeal, and so decided to go ahead and issue the report, but explain what was still missing.
New report to come
Although the report states that McAfee & Taft did not have possession of the 37 boxes at the time the report was published, Archdiocese spokesperson Diane Clay confirmed to Free Press by the end of the day that the firm did have possession of the files.
And so, now the firm is reviewing the 49 boxes of files it has that were not reflected in the report.
“The Archdiocese offers its full support to the firm to ensure that these additional Archdiocese materials are subject to the same investigatory process as all other materials previously made available to or obtained by the firm,” the report read.
Free Press will continue to monitor the progress of this new investigation.