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Lawyer: New Boston Church Head 'Tainted'

Nov 17, 2002 | UPI

The new head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston came under fire Tuesday in the clergy sex-abuse scandal.

A lawyer for alleged abuse victims says Bishop Richard G. Lennon is not as "squeaky clean" as it might appear.

"He is tainted right now," said Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing dozens of alleged victims in lawsuits against the archdiocese. The lawyer said the interim replacement for resigned archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law "should be squeaky clean," but is not.

Garabedian told WBZ radio Tuesday morning he has viewed church documents that indicate Lennon "obviously knew what was going on" but "didn't report it to authorities."

"The documents raise serious concerns as to what Bishop Lennon knew about pedophilia within the archdiocese of Boston and what he did about it if anything," Garabedian told the Boston Herald.

Garabedian said he plans to go through additional documents and question lawyers for the archdiocese about why Lennon was put in charge.

"Why is he holding himself out as being squeaky clean ... when in fact he knew about all these accusations?" Garabedian said. "Why didn't he tell anyone about these horrific acts?"

There was no immediate response from the archdiocese.

Law who resigned last week as archbishop of Boston under pressure as a result of disclosures he failed to take action to prevent known abusive priests from having access to children.

Law spoke briefly to reporters Monday but declined to answer any questions about the scandal. He again apologized for his "mistakes" and asked for forgiveness.

Meanwhile, protesters who had demonstrated against Law for months in Boston vowed to press their demands for the resignation of Bishop John B. McCormack, a former top aide to Law and now the head of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H.

McCormack had advised Law on the transfer of many molesting priests from parish to parish rather than remove them from active ministry.

"Bishop McCormack, we're coming after you," said alleged abuse victim Gary Bergeron.

"He helped shuffle priests around," protest organizer Stephen A. Lewis told the Union-Leader of Manchester.

Lewis is a co-founder of the Massachusetts-based group Speak Truth to Power. The group says it plans to stage protests against McCormack outside St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester.

"We want the resignation of all the U.S. bishops that have been guilty of moving around pedophile priests," Lewis said, "and McCormack is one of them."

Last week the Diocese of New Hampshire became the first in the nation to admit it may have violated criminal law by failing to protect children from molesting priests.

McCormack signed an agreement with the New Hampshire Attorney General's office acknowledging that there was sufficient evidence to result in convictions.

In another New Hampshire case, suspended priest Francis Talbot, 66, pleaded guilty Monday to five felony sexual assaults involving a boy who had been sent to his home to do chores, the Union-Leader reported.

Talbot, who faced possible criminal indictment on up to 500 felonies, could be sentenced up to 20 years.

The victim, Cody Goodwin, now 24, was relieved to hear that Talbot had admitted to the crimes.

"I hope now other people will find the strength to come forward and do what I did," Goodwin said, "because it's the only way we will get these people off the street and in prison where they belong."

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