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Attorney: Church Must Give Up Papers

Sep 26, 2002 | AP A judge has ordered the Boston Archdiocese to give lawyers representing alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley documents regarding allegations of abuse by 85 priests, an attorney said.

The records include those the Roman Catholic archdiocese turned over to the attorney general's office earlier this year, as well as any actions taken by the archdiocese, including investigations, said Jeffrey Newman, an attorney for plaintiff Gregory Ford.

Newman did not know the identities of the priests, 15 of whom are deceased, but the existence of the documents was revealed earlier this year during the deposition of the Rev. Charles Higgins, the archdiocesan delegate for handling sexual abuse allegations against priests.

Newman said he received Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney's order Wednesday.

"My sense is that we're finally going to get to see some of the underside of the iceberg now," Newman said. "I believe that what we've seen so far is a small fraction, not only of the numbers of individuals that are molested, but the extent of the supervisory decisions to essentially cover things up, and that's what I think these documents will show."

Information on allegations against 12 priests, including Shanley and defrocked priest and convicted child molester John J. Geoghan, have already been released.

Shanley, 71, has pleaded innocent and is currently in jail awaiting trial on child rape and indecent assault charges.

A message left with a spokesman for the archdiocese was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a former parish priest was charged Wednesday in Los Angeles with 13 counts of child molestation.

In 1986, Michael Baker told Cardinal Roger Mahony that he had molested young boys and was reassigned to several parishes after attending a treatment center for pedophile priests.

Mahony has since issued a public apology for allowing Baker to remain in the ministry after admitting his abuse. Baker has said the cardinal sent him to a treatment center in New Mexico without inquiring about the identity of his victims.

When two brothers living in Arizona prepared to sue the archdiocese in 2000, claiming Baker had molested them from 1984 to 1999, Mahony signed off on a secret $1.3 million settlement.

Also Wednesday, Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore said his archdiocese and its insurers have spent more than $5.6 million in the last 20 years on legal settlements, counseling, and other expenses involving child sexual abuse by priests.

The $5.6 million included settlements with eight victims totaling $4.1 million, Keeler said. Most of it was covered by insurance.

It also included $419,186 spent on psychological counseling for victims over the past 15 years. The archdiocese also spent $112,520 for legal expenses for accused priests, $616,201 to cover the living expenses of suspended priests and $387,019 for psychiatric treatment and ordinary medical expenses for suspended priests.

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