Tags: Boston | Cardinal | Grows | Angry | Under | Questioning

Boston Cardinal Grows Angry Under Questioning

Monday, 13 May 2002 12:00 AM

The nation's senior Roman Catholic cardinal was ordered by a judge to give three days of sworn testimony in civil lawsuits involving more than 80 victims of alleged abuse by now-defrocked priest John J. Geoghan.

The lawyer representing those plaintiffs, Mitchell Garabedian, announced, however, that an agreement has been reached for Law to undergo at least two more days of questioning. Dates for those sessions were not immediately scheduled.

Two of Geoghan's alleged victims, Patrick McSorley and Mark Keane, attended Monday's deposition at the church's chancery and later told reporters the cardinal was becoming increasingly upset at the questions. "He was pressured by some of the questions he was asked," McSorley said, adding that his attorneys had to take Law out of the room at times before answering some questions.

"He really lost his temper," said Keane. When asked how Law lost his temper, Keane said, "Very eloquently."

Keane said Law's "voice raised slightly. He's got a mean face, believe it or not."

A transcript of the deposition won't be made available for at least 30 days.

McSorley and Keane said Law appeared upset when questioned about medical advice he received in a letter before allowing Geoghan to return to parish work.

The letter from a psychiatric facility where Geoghan underwent three months of rehabilitation reportedly gave Law a mixed assessment on Geoghan. Though reportedly assuring Law it was OK for Geoghan to be around children, doctors also said they could not guarantee that Geoghan would not molest boys again.

"As far as I can see the cardinal relied too much on doctors' words about Father Geoghan being released," McSorley said. "He said he was assured that Father Geoghan would be safe to be put back into the priesthood."

According to the alleged victims, Law continued to say he could not remember in response to most of the questions.

"I don't know what's worse," Keane said, "that he doesn't recall seven boys being raped, or if he's lying about it."

Once the Geoghan deposition is completed, Law still faces a June 5 appointment when he will be questioned under oath by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who represents alleged sexual abuse victims of retired priest Paul R. Shanley.

MacLeish noted over the weekend that while Law, under questioning last week by Garabedian, more than 40 times said he could not recall details of events surrounding his decision in 1984 to transfer Geoghan from one Boston-area parish to another despite knowing the priest had been accused of molesting boys, he won't be able to be that evasive when questioned about Shanley.

"He cannot say at that [June 5] deposition, 'I don't recall,' because he was so involved with Paul Shanley," MacLeish said on national television.

MacLeish has obtained under court order 1,600 church documents linking Law to the accused homosexual molester, including letters in which Law thanked Shanley for his priestly work even though he was well aware of accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

The church knew as far back as 1963 Shanley molested boys, according to church documents.

The documents showed that though Law and other church officials knew decades ago Shanley advocated sex between men and boys, and had been accused of abusing boys, they allowed him to be transferred to parishes where he continued to have access to boys.

A transcript of the first day of Law's deposition Wednesday was immediately released to the public, but a judge ordered transcripts of the Friday and Monday sessions to be sealed.

Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney, at the request of Law's legal team, granted Law the same 30-day review period routinely given to defendants in civil cases.

Though Garabedian objected to the delay, he said it was well within Law's legal rights.

Garabedian on Monday reportedly focused again on Law's handling of Geoghan and a recent decision by the archdiocese's Finance Council to back out of a Law-approved settlement with Geoghan's alleged victims that would have cost the church between $15 million and $30 million.

"I'm wondering if they ever really intended to settle this case," Garabedian said on radio station WBZ.

In another development, the Boston Herald on Monday disclosed that the archdiocese paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for priests accused of sex abuse.

In the Geoghan case, for example, documents showed a 1997 legal bill he submitted for $36,636 was paid by the archdiocese. Geoghan, who was sentenced to prison earlier this year for molesting a boy, sent a letter thanking the church for its "financial assistance."

Documents also showed that legal bills were paid by The Clergy Assistance Trust in the Shanley case.

"Why is the archdiocese paying for the defense of all these priests and saying it has no money to pay the victims?" said Carmen L. Durso, another lawyer representing another group of alleged sexual abuse by priests.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The nation's senior Roman Catholic cardinal was ordered by a judge to give three days of sworn testimony in civil lawsuits involving more than 80 victims of alleged abuse by now-defrocked priest John J. Geoghan. The lawyer representing those plaintiffs, Mitchell...
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2002-00-13
Monday, 13 May 2002 12:00 AM
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