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Records sought from Belleville religious order in abuse suit

February 18, 2015

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A Minnesota judge has ordered the religious organization that operates the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville to turn over any records related to possible sex abuse by its clergy over a 30-year period.

The Belleville News-Democrat (bit.ly/1ANs65h ) reports that the court order covers offices of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate nationwide. The ruling comes in a civil lawsuit that accuses the late Reverend James Vincent Fitzgerald of sexually abusing two brothers during a Minnesota fishing trip.

Fitzgerald worked at parishes in Minnesota and South Dakota until his 1994 assignment at age 75 to the Belleville shrine, where he remained until his 2009 death. The order covers records from 1949 through 1978.

Church officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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