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Court Battles Return For Portland Archdiocese

Advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse had harsh words for Portland's Archdiocese Thursday.

This comes in the wake of church efforts to make future defendants reveal their real identities in court.

As Andrew Theen reports,  regional leaders of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, are fighting back.

After a protracted bankruptcy battle and a $70 million settlement that appeared to wrap up the Portland Archdiocese sex abuse case this April, the Archdiocese is back in court.

Five more complaints of clergy sex abuse — ones that were not included in the settlement — are moving forward, and church officials have filed a motion to require those who say they were abused by priests to reveal their identities in the future.

Bud Bunce is communications director for the Archdiocese of Portland.

He acknowledged the church is "very conscious" of how difficult it is to come forward in these cases, even anonymously.  But Bunce says federal court rules say defendants must reveal their identity, unless there's an exceptional circumstance.

Bud Bunce: "What the archdiocese has done is pointed out that these cases that have been recently filed failed to meet the rules of the federal district court."

In past lawsuits, clergy sex abuse victims have been able to be ide their initials, preserving their anonymity.  But those were primarily in state court.

Archdiocese attorneys argue that these new cases are in federal courts, which usually requires full identification.

Mary Grant, regional director of SNAP, says she isn't surprised the church is taking this step for any future abuse allegations.  Grant says that the church is afraid more victims will come forward.

She says there is no reason the church needs victims' identities made public, because they know them through court documents.

Mary Grant: "We can only think that this bullying tactic is only to embarrass and shame those who have already been raped and wounded, to intimidate anybody else who is thinking of coming forward to stay silent."

Grant called the Archdiocese actions "immoral" and "unchristian."

Bud Bunce with the church says the Archdiocese is only asking that any future cases  follow federal rules.

Officials with SNAP called on church parishioners to withhold funds from the church because so much money goes toward fighting legal battles.