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Law: Priest's Abuse Was Kept Mum

Aug 13, 2002 | AP

Cardinal Bernard Law acknowledged he allowed a priest to return to his parish after the priest admitted he had sexually abused a boy, according to videotaped testimony made public Tuesday.

Law, testifying in June during a deposition in civil lawsuits filed against the Rev. Paul Shanley, said he allowed the Rev. Daniel Graham to return to his church in 1988 with no restrictions on his activities.

"He was allowed to continue, yes, after intervention by a medical source," Law said, responding to questions by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who represents alleged sexual abuse victims of Shanley.

Law had testified in another sex abuse case that he allowed a priest accused of molestation to move to a new parish and return to service, saying he relied on the advice of doctors and subordinates in doing so. That was the case of now defrocked priest John Geoghan, who has been accused by 130 people of abuse.

Law sat Tuesday for a third day of questioning in the Shanley case as the videotape and written transcripts of his first two days of questioning were made public for the first time.

The first portion of the video, which was released before the written transcript, focused on the Graham case.

Law said parishioners were not informed of the allegation against Graham. He said the archdiocese's policy has changed since the 1980s, when the allegation against Graham was made by a man who said the priest had sexually assaulted him on numerous occasions 20 years earlier.

Law said he relied on the recommendation of two subordinates in deciding to return Graham to his parish.

"Any assignment of Father Graham would have been made upon their recommendation, and their recommendation would have been made upon the basis of a study of that case and an informed opinion that he did not pose a risk," Law said.

Law said the policy has changed so that now "no priest against whom a credible allegation of sexual abuse against a minor has been made may hold any assignment whatsoever."


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