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Lawyers for People Alleging Abuse by Boston-Area Priests Say 450 New Clients Have Come Forward

Apr 14, 2002 | Associated Press

Attorneys for people who say were sexually abused by Boston-area priests said more than 450 alleged victims have come forward with new allegations since the scandal broke in January.

"Some of them realize for the first time that they're not an isolated incident," said Mitchell Garabedian, who settled with the Boston Archdiocese last month on behalf of 86 people who accused former priest John Geoghan of abusing them.

Court documents released in January showed Cardinal Bernard Law and other Roman Catholic church officials knew Geoghan had been accused of abuse but kept moving him from parish to parish.

Garabedian said he has taken on 250 new clients who said they were assaulted by Geoghan and other priests.

"The Geoghan case has opened up the flood gates," he said.

Attorney Jeffrey Newman said he has taken on 100 new cases since January. He said that after each news report about allegations against particular priests, new clients have come forward accusing those priests of abuse.

Garabedian said alleged victims "seem to draw strength from the media coverage."

Attorney Roderick MacLeish told the Boston Sunday Globe he also has received 100 new clients. A call to his office from The Associated Press was not immediately returned Sunday.

Calls for Law's resignation mounted after church personnel records released by MacLeish at a news conference last week showed Law and other archdiocese officials knew the Rev. Paul Shanley had been accused of abuse over three decades.

Law, who announced in a letter to priests Friday that he would not step down, did not say Mass at Holy Cross Cathedral on Sunday as he usually does.

In a scene that's become familiar since the clergy sexual abuse scandal began, about three dozen protesters picketed the Cathedral. Some called for criminal charges against Law.

"I'm a psychologist. If I did what he did I'd be in prison right now. I'd have to file a report if I suspected abuse," said Ann Hagan Webb.

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