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Law’s Records Show He Met With Abusers

Jan 11, 2003 | AP

Cardinal Bernard Law’s appointment calendar shows he had numerous meetings during his tenure as archbishop of Boston with priests accused of sexually abusing minors, despite his claims that his role in supervising accused priests was minimal.

More than 800 pages of Law’s calendar, released publicly Thursday, show Law had scheduled meetings with at least 20 priests who were either then or later accused of sexually abusing minors. Law resigned as archbishop last month after nearly a year of controversy over his handling of abuse allegations against priests.

The calendar entries do not indicate the subject of the meetings or whether the priests Law met with had already been accused of sexually abusing minors.

But lawyers for alleged victims who are now suing the Boston archdiocese for the failure of Law and other church supervisors to remove abusive priests say the records show a pattern of Law supervising those priests. In pretrial depositions in the civil cases over the last year, Law repeatedly claimed that he left the supervision of priests to his subordinates.

"I think it’s important to know in terms of his day-to-day knowledge of this. He can’t extract himself from his own calendar," said Jeffrey Newman, an attorney who represents more than 200 alleged victims of priests.

Donna Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said church officials produced the appointment calendar as part of civil lawsuits filed against the archdiocese. She declined to comment on the records. "I haven’t seen the documents, and our attorneys don’t enter into discussions about ongoing litigation," she said.

Among the priests shown on Law’s calendar is the Rev. John J. Geoghan, whose case sparked the sexual abuse scandal last year after his personnel file showed that church officials had shuffled him from parish to parish instead of removing him after receiving sexual abuse allegations.

The records also show Law met with the Rev. Thomas Forry in August 1984, who, earlier that month, had been urged by clinicians to enter a clergy treatment center for allegedly beating his housekeeper and having a sexual relationship with a woman. But after Law met with Forry, the priest was sent back to his South Weymouth parish. He later became an Army chaplain.

The calendar also shows an appointment Law had in June 2001 with the Rev. Ronald Paquin, who was indicted on three counts of child rape in May 2002 for incidents that occurred between 1989 and 1992. Last week, Paquin pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison.

The records released Thursday include days from Law’s appointment calendar from his arrival as leader of the Boston archdiocese in 1984 through the end of last year. Many days are missing, however.

Meanwhile, attorneys representing the more than 400 alleged abuse victims who have filed lawsuits against the archdiocese were expected to file responses by Friday’s deadline to the archdiocese’s motion to dismiss the claims.

Roderick MacLeish, who represents hundreds of alleged victims with Newman, blasted the archdiocese for the arguments they made in a filing arguing that civil law does not apply to how religious organizations supervise their personnel.

"Their position is that they have no accountability to anyone, it is simply nobody’s business what they do with priests, even priests who are known to have molested children, even priests who might have pled guilty to molesting children," MacLeish said.

The archdiocese has argued the legal move was necessary to satisfy its insurance carriers in hopes at least a portion of any settlement costs, estimated at millions of dollars, will be covered.

Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney is expected to hear arguments on the motion Jan. 17.

In other developments Friday, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney set dates for Law’s next round of depositions -- Jan. 22 and Feb. 3.

Newman and his law partner, Roderick MacLeish Jr., had sought to depose Law on Jan. 16 and 17. But Sweeney granted an extension requested by the archdiocese’s lawyers.

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