Tags: Boston | Cardinal | Testifies

Boston Cardinal Testifies

Wednesday, 08 May 2002 12:00 AM

According to a transcript of the deposition, Law was unable to recall when he first heard of the Rev. John Geoghan or learned that the now-defrocked priest had been accused of molesting boys in the early 1980s.

Law, believed to be the first cardinal ordered to give sworn testimony over his handling of priests who allegedly molested boys, was ordered to appear at a deposition behind closed doors before Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney.

Law arrived at the courthouse in a car with tinted windows. He avoided the waiting media by entering an underground passageway normally used to bring prisoners into the facility.

"I'm ready for this," said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who would question Law. "He has to be honest. He has to be straight-forward. He has to come clean.

"It's time. I've been working on this case for eight years. It's time for this."

The judge had ordered the deposition at the request of Garabedian, an attorney for 86 people who have filed a civil lawsuit against Law, five of his bishops, and the Archdiocese of Boston.

Questioned by Garabedian and his associate, William Gordon, Law was asked about letters that bore his signature as evidence that he had received them in 1984. The letters referred to a priest, Geoghan, who had been accused of molestation. On the back of one, Law wrote: "Urgent, please follow through."

In nearly 100 pages of transcript released after more than three hours of testimony during the morning, Law said he did not recall when he first learned of Geoghan or the 1984 letters alleging Geoghan had been molesting boys in one Boston parish.

Asked if he could recall when he first heard of Geoghan, Law replied, "I do not."

As to whether he recalled one of the letters placed before him, Law answered: "I do not recall seeing this letter as I sit here before you and try to reconstruct what I knew and didn't know in 1984. I do not recall seeing this letter at that time."

"So as of 1984, your memory of September of 1984, you were unaware that Father Geoghan had admitted to Bishop Daily to molesting boys?" he was asked.

Law said, "I do not recall having been informed of this by Father, by Bishop Daily, no."

Garabedian and other plaintiff lawyers at the session tried to schedule at least a couple more days of deposition, but were having difficulty because of Law's schedule.

Garabedian asked for the emergency order after the archdiocese Friday backed out of a multimillion dollar settlement with victims who said they were sexually assaulted by Geoghan.

The suit accuses Law and his subordinates of negligence for transferring Geoghan from one Boston-area parish to another even though they knew he had been accused of molesting boys.

Garabedian said he planned to ask Law at what point he first learned in 1984, his first year in Boston, that Geoghan had admitted to molesting seven boys in 1980. The lawyer also said he wanted to know why Law took no action against Geoghan, and why the priest was transferred to another parish where he continued to have access to boys, despite knowing about the accusations.

Geoghan, defrocked in 1998, was convicted earlier this year of molesting a 10-year-old boy and was sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison.

The deposition, expected to take several days, was to be videotaped, but the tape will not be made public unless it is needed at trial if Law is unable to testify in person.

The deposition was just one of several developments in the sex-scandal plagued archdiocese.

Essex County District Attorney Kevin M. Burke announced late Tuesday that Paquin, 59, was arrested because authorities had reason to believe he was about to leave the area.

State police arrested Paquin outside his Malden home where some men were moving some of his furniture into a truck.

Burke said the charges against Paquin involved allegations he sexually assaulted a boy some 50 times over a two-year period from 1990 to 1992.

The boy was 12 at the time the attacks began when he was an altar boy at St. John the Baptist Parish in Haverhill, according to the alleged victim's attorney, Jeffrey A. Newman.

Newman said that when he realized the alleged attacks fell within the statute of limitations, he immediately brought the young man to the state police.

Paquin has admitted in newspaper reports that he molested boys during his 20 years as a priest.

Shanley, 71, arrested as a fugitive in San Diego late last week, was ordered held on $750,000 bail after a judge entered pleas of not guilty on his behalf.

Law is expected to be deposed also in the Shanley case early next month. Attorneys were expected to ask that the session be held earlier out of concern that Law could be called to the Vatican by the pope, where he would be out of reach of local law enforcement authorities.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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According to a transcript of the deposition, Law was unable to recall when he first heard of the Rev. John Geoghan or learned that the now-defrocked priest had been accused of molesting boys in the early 1980s. Law, believed to be the first cardinal ordered to give sworn...
Wednesday, 08 May 2002 12:00 AM
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