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Church Depositions Won't Be Released

Jun 14, 2002 | AP

A judge on Friday set aside a lower court's order to immediately release transcripts of depositions given by Cardinal Bernard Law and a former deputy in the case of a priest accused of child sex abuse.

The ruling turns the matter over to a judge assigned this month to oversee all clergy sex abuse lawsuits in the Boston archdiocese.

Last month, the lower court judge had ordered the depositions released on the grounds they were of great public interest. But Appeals Court Justice Kenneth Laurence ruled on Friday that the judge was "no longer empowered" to make that decision.

Instead, the ruling said Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney should make the decision. Sweeney has been put in charge of all civil cases against the archdiocese alleging sex abuse by priests.

Attorneys for media organizations asked the Supreme Judicial Court later Friday to reinstate the lower court's order.

"The order was proper when it was entered," said Jonathan Albano, who represents several media organizations, including The Boston Globe.

The high court did not immediately schedule a hearing.

The lower court's order was appealed by lawyers for the archdiocese who argued they should have at least 30 days to review transcripts for errors.

Law and his former deputy, John McCormack, now bishop in New Hampshire, were questioned in early June in the case of retired priest Paul Shanley.

The depositions were conducted by lawyers for three men who say they were molested by Shanley during the 1980s, when he was pastor of a parish in Newton, Mass. The accusers say church officials failed to protect them from repeated abuse by Shanley.

Shanley is in jail awaiting trail on criminal charges that he raped one of the boys. He has pleaded innocent.

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