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Judge: Boston's Cardinal Law Must Answer Attorney's Questions About Priest Accused of Abuse

Apr 18, 2002 | AP

Boston's highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader has been ordered by a judge to submit to questions about his handling of a priest accused of molestation.

Judge Leila Kern said Wednesday that Cardinal Bernard Law can be questioned by lawyers for a man who claims Law and the Archdiocese of Boston failed to protect him from being sexually abused by the Rev. Paul Shanley.

The deposition was scheduled for June 5.

Law has faced increasing criticism since about 850 pages in Shanley's personnel files were turned over by the archdiocese to attorney Roderick MacLeish and later made public.

The records detailed Shanley's advocacy of sex between men and boys as well as his transfer to several parishes by the archdiocese, despite allegations of child sexual abuse.

A lawyer for Shanley, Frank Mondano, appeared in court Wednesday, joining the archdiocese to argue that medical records are confidential. Kern set a May 1 hearing on that issue.

Kern rejected a motion by archdiocese attorney Wilson Rogers Jr. to dismiss the lawsuit on constitutional grounds of separation between church and state.

"Quite honestly, I would have preferred to have not had to fight over this. But there's no way that we're backing down," said Paula Ford, the mother of Gregory Ford, 24, who sued claiming he was abused by Shanley.

MacLeish said the archdiocese may have withheld other materials about Shanley, including correspondence between church officials regarding Shanley's medical evaluations and additional allegations of abuse.

MacLeish represents 120 plaintiffs suing priests, the archdiocese and Law. MacLeish and attorneys for the archdiocese plan to negotiate the release of additional materials.

Kern ruled that all the discovery (news - web sites) documents in the case should be made public.

The sex scandal largely began with former priest John J. Geoghan, who has been accused of molesting more than 130 youngsters and is serving a prison sentence for groping a boy in a swimming pool. Documents released months ago show that the archdiocese knew about the allegations against him but did little more than transfer him from parish to parish.

In a statement Tuesday night, Law said he had met with Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II and Vatican (news - web sites) officials and had raised the possibility of resigning but returned determined to clean up the scandal in his archdiocese. He and other American cardinals also plan to meet in Rome next week for an unprecedented Vatican summit on clergy sex abuse.

Law, who has not appeared in public in Boston since March 31, plans to celebrate Mass at Holy Cross Cathedral on Sunday, archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said.

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