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Judge Orders Priests' Records Released

May 28, 2002 | WCVB

There was another victory Tuesday for a group of plaintiffs suing the Boston Archdiocese over alleged past sexual abuse. NewsCenter 5's Amalia Barreda said that a Middlesex Superior Court judge Raymond Brassard ordered the release of personnel records of 11 priests to the plaintiffs.

The hearing was related to the deposition scheduled in the case of the Rev. Paul Shanley, including next Wednesday's deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law.

The plaintiffs' attorneys want to show that the cardinal and the archdiocese engaged in a pattern of assigning and reassigning priest who had been accuse of sexual abuse from parish to parish.

Attorney Eric MacLeish told the court that he needs the records to combat Law's attempts to limit his liability under the states' Charitable Immunity Law. MacLeish argued that Shanley was not an isolated case, and the records of other priests facing similar allegations of abuse will support that.

"If we can show that that was not an isolated circumstance, but existed in the case of Father Geoghan, and Father Paquin -- I would suggest that it would completely eviscerate any possibility that the Archdiocese of Boston is going to be able to say, 'Well, we were undertaking all of these activities for purely charitable purposes,'" MacLeish said,

"It's our position that clearly, this is a fishing expedition. It is intended to harass, annoy and embarrass the archdiocese," Boston Archdiocese lawyer Wilson Rogers III said.

In the end, Brassard came down on the side of the plaintiffs.

"I think the documents should be produced. It seems to me that it would be important to get the documents in counsel's hands by Friday if they are going to take a deposition on Monday," Brassard.

Law is scheduled to be deposed next Wednesday and Friday. Brassard ordered that the written transcripts of the deposition can be made available once the clerk has certified him.

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