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Cardinal Law Facing More Questions on Pedophile Matter

May 10, 2002 | AP

Cardinal Bernard Law arrived at the chancery of the Boston archdiocese Friday for a second day of questioning in a lawsuit brought by alleged sexual abuse victims of a former priest.

Television cameras and reporters lined the sidewalk outside the grounds of the archdiocese's headquarters, peering over a stone wall as Law and his attorney walked a short distance from his residence to a nearby building.

Law was expected to answer questions Friday morning, leave to celebrate Mass in the Roxbury section of the city, then return for an afternoon session.

The highly unusual deposition of a high-ranking church official, which began Wednesday, was ordered in a sex abuse lawsuit by 86 alleged sexual abuse victims of former priest John J. Geoghan. Geoghan was convicted in January of molesting a boy and is serving nine to 10 years in prison.

Law and other church officials are accused of negligence for reassigning him in the archdiocese and allegedly ignoring warning signs that he was dangerous to children.

Plaintiffs' attorney Mitchell Garabedian indicated that Friday's sessions would focus on the breakdown of a settlement, estimated at $15 million to $30 million. A settlement was voted down by the archdiocese's finance committee a week ago.

Geoghan has been accused of sexually abusing more than 130 children over three decades. The lawsuit accuses Law and the Boston Archdiocese of failing to protect youngsters from the now-defrocked priest.

Law says he argued for the committee to approve the settlement but was outvoted.

Alleged victim Patrick McSorley criticized the deposition process, saying he and the others are ``hoping for the truth.''

``All this wish-wash, trying to move it along without the truth, it revictimizes all of us,'' he said.

In his testimony Wednesday, Law acknowledged that he labeled as ``urgent'' a 1984 letter that asserted Geoghan was a pedophile. However, he said he couldn't remember reading it. He said he relied on subordinates and doctors to handle Geoghan.

Garabedian called it ``astounding'' that Law didn't recall the warnings.

Law said he did not remember a letter from Margaret Gallant, a relative of seven alleged Geoghan victims who was upset that the church gave Geoghan another chance at a parish in Boston. Nor did he recall Bishop John D'Arcy's letter saying Geoghan was unfit to be reassigned.

Law, however, said he recognized his own handwriting on a note forwarding one of Gallant's letters to Bishop Thomas Daily, one of his subordinates, with the instructions, ``Urgent, please follow through.''

In the 1984 letter, Gallant alleged that Geoghan had abused seven people at a Boston parish.

Although Law's testimony is closed to the public, transcripts are being released.

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