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Court Orders Archdiocese To Turn Over More Files

Nov 14, 2002 | AP

A judge ordered the Archdiocese of Boston yesterday to turn over thousands more internal files detailing how it responded to allegations of sexual abuse by dozens of priests.

Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney threatened unspecified sanctions unless church lawyers produce the documents on 62 priests by Nov. 22.

Lawyers for alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse hope the documents show a pattern of negligence in the way the archdiocese handled complaints.

In September, Sweeney ordered the archdiocese to hand over personnel files on 85 priests, a ruling upheld by an appeals court last month.

Since then, attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. said, documents have trickled in at an unacceptably slow pace. He also complained of documents being illegible.

Archdiocese attorney Wilson Rogers III said retrieving, reviewing and turning over documents would take longer than Nov. 22.

The ruling came in a hearing on a suit filed by six men who claim they were abused by the Rev. Paul Shanley, 71. The archdiocese faces about 300 similar suits.

Shanley, 71, was indicted in June on 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery for allegedly abusing boys from 1979 to 1989. The boys were 6 to 15 years old. Shanley has pleaded not guilty.

Separately, prosecutors dropped a criminal case against defrocked priest John Geoghan after the alleged victim said he wouldn't testify in court.

Geoghan, 67, is a key figure in the church crisis because Boston Cardinal Bernard Law acknowledged he shuttled him from parish to parish even after he learned the priest had been accused of abuse.

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