Church Request to Drop Suits Draws Fire

By Robert O'Neill
Associated Press, carried in Newsday
January 11, 2003

BOSTON -- A lawyer for alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse criticized a motion by the Boston Archdiocese to dismiss hundreds of lawsuits filed against the church.

Roderick MacLeish, who represents hundreds of alleged victims, blasted the archdiocese's arguments that civil law does not apply to how religious organizations supervise their personnel.

"Their position is that they have no accountability to anyone," MacLeish said Friday.

The archdiocese has said 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.

MacLeish's response came a day after the release of Cardinal Bernard Law's appointment calendar showing 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.

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. The records also do not indicate if Law kept each appointment.

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.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.