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Edwards Calls On Archdiocese To Reopen Investigation

Dec 28, 2002 | AP

A man whose sexual-abuse allegations against a high-ranking priest were twice dismissed after his story was called into question called on the Boston Archdiocese yesterday to reopen its investigation.

Paul Edwards, 34, of Winchendon, withdrew his lawsuit against the archdiocese and Monsignor Michael Foster in September after reports in The Boston Globe called into question some parts of his story. Foster was reinstated to his job in October as presiding judge of the archdiocesan tribunal that handles annulments and canon law issues.

Edwards had claimed Foster molested him repeatedly in a rectory bedroom between 1980 and 1985.

The suit was withdrawn "with prejudice," which means he may not refile it except under extraordinary circumstances. Foster is the only priest in the archdiocese to be reinstated after abuse allegations.

More recent stories in the Boston Herald, however, have found that many of Edwards' claims about his career and medical history can be verified.

Yesterday, Edwards appeared with a new attorney, Carmen Durso, and called on the archdiocese to reopen its investigation, or at least reveal why it concluded his claims weren't credible. Foster's personnel file does not indicate precisely why Foster was reinstated, though it does show one doctor referred to Edwards as a "compulsive liar" even though he had not personally evaluated Edwards.

"It may be that they come to the same conclusion. Whether they do or not, Paul Edwards and every other person who has been victimized, is entitled to a fair process," Durso said.

Durso said medical records support Edwards' claims that he is a paraplegic and said he had viewed other documents that prove Edwards, who uses a wheelchair, skied on the U.S. Disabled Ski team at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, claims that were questioned by the Globe.

Durso also said Edwards had passed a polygraph text, but declined to provide a transcript of the questions and answers, saying Edwards felt they were too graphic.

Edwards did not respond directly to repeated questions about whether he was sticking by the specific allegations made in the original lawsuit, which alleged that he had been molested multiple times. He also declined to mention Foster by name in the news conference. He said he had been threatened with a defamation lawsuit by Foster's attorney.

When asked if he stood by his earlier contentions, Edwards replied: "Absolutely, 100 percent." But pressed on whether that covered the allegations of repeated molestation, he said he didn't know what the suit said and "I state there was inappropriate relationship and a forceable rape."

Foster's attorney, Peter Hermes, released a statement from Foster saying: "The allegations are false. The investigations were thorough and the decision to reinstate me was based on the totality of the evidence."

The archdiocese did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Edwards, who broke into tears at one point and was surrounded by friends and relatives, said he had signed the release withdrawing the suit, while hospitalized for post-traumatic stress disorder, to spare himself and his family the ordeal. He said the reports calling into question his claims had ruined his credibility, and he wanted it restored.

"What I am is a 35-year-old man who has endured not only an extreme loss of innocence but (been) victimized by people I trusted and also blanketed by ridicule from a few who did not think of just how destructive their misstatements would be to a man and his family's life," he said.


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