Wednesday, April 15, 2015


St. Louis Archbishop Says He Didn’t Know It Was Illegal For Priests To Have Sex With Kids

I've probably taken or defended over a thousand depositions like this one.  Sometimes depositions are nothing less than exercises in pragmatic epistemology.

For example, what you don't see is the part where this guy was put under oath and told not to guess or speculate and to say what he knew or not.

If the question was whether in the '70s he believed that it would have been a crime for an adult to have sex with a child, he might have - probably would have - said "yes."  However, does he "know" that for a fact, probably he doesn't.

I have a near ontological certainty that adults having sex with a child was a crime in California was a crime in the 1970s, and I would be shocked beyond all recognition to find out that it wasn't, but do I "know" that to be the case?  If I am honest, I ought to say I don't know it until I verify it for myself.

Moreover, if I think about what I knew at the time, I can't say that I ever thought about whether it was a crime or not.  I think I must have felt at the time that it was a crime, if I thought about it, but if I am honest, I would have to say that today I do not really know what I knew then.

I definitely would have felt that it was wrong and ought to be a crime, but did I ever actually think about it?  I would be kind of speculating to answer the question, and the attorney who is asking the questions at the beginning of the deposition told me not to speculate.

Of course, he looks awful, but that was the intent.

That's the trap that is unexplained in this video.

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