NEW YORK — In an apparent about-face, Cardinal Edward M. Egan announced Wednesday that the New York Archdiocese has voluntarily given the Manhattan district attorney's office an unspecified number of files on cases involving priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors.
Not all of the allegations in the files have been substantiated, the archdiocese said in a statement. Previously, Egan had indicated he would only inform authorities of cases in which he determined there was "reasonable cause" to suspect priests, and only if victims agreed to the disclosure.
That policy prompted criticism that Egan was not cooperating as vigorously as other church leaders with investigations of sexual abuse in the priesthood. Other critics had suggested that Egan covered up cases of abuse when he was a bishop in Bridgeport, Conn., a contention that Egan has denied.
"The information forwarded to Dist. Atty. Robert Morgenthau is the result of a comprehensive review of the personnel files for priests of the Archdiocese of New York covering the last 35 [to] 40 years," the archdiocese said in a statement.
The information sent to Morgenthau included "the date and location of the alleged activity and the outcome of any legal proceedings that may have been taken, along with the status of the accused, if it is known."
Neither Egan nor Morgenthau would comment specifically on the files, but the transfer is expected to accelerate local investigations of sexual misconduct in the nation's third-largest archdiocese. Morgenthau said he would forward relevant information to fellow district attorneys in neighboring jurisdictions.
Pressure had been building on Egan to cooperate more actively, and the archdiocese's move came amid new calls for disclosure from Westchester County's district attorney, Jeanine Pirro. She asked Egan to provide files going back at least 12 years.
Pirro said it was "particularly inappropriate" for the church to require consent from underage victims before disclosing the names of suspected priests.
New York law does not require churches to provide such information to police, but state legislators are moving toward final passage of a bill to mandate such disclosure from the clergy, as well as from teachers and physicians.