Judge Delays/Allows Resumption of Law Deposition

Associated Press, carried in Boston Globe
January 21, 2003

BOSTON (AP) A Suffolk Superior Court judge on Tuesday denied a request by the Archdiocese of Boston to delay a deposition of former Cardinal Bernard Law until after a state grand jury wraps up its investigation.

Attorneys representing the archdiocese and Law, who stepped down last month, had argued that lawyers who represent hundreds of alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse would make comments about the depositions that would taint a separate grand jury investigation.

''The bottom line is that the deposition goes forward as it was scheduled,'' Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney said.

An attorney for the Archdiocese of Boston and Law had filed a motion Friday asking Sweeney to delay the deposition scheduled for Wednesday and Feb. 3 in the civil lawsuits involving alleged abuse by the Rev. Paul Shanley until after a grand jury completes a separate investigation. Law has also been ordered to appear before the grand jury on Feb. 25 to testify.

Shanley, 71, has pleaded innocent to 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery, and was released on bail on Dec. 11 after seven months in jail.

Law and seven bishops who had worked in the archdiocese have been subpoenaed to testify before the state grand jury, which was convened by Attorney General Thomas Reilly.

Reilly has refused to discuss the grand jury or whether Law is a target, but attorney J. Owen Todd wrote in Friday's motion that the grand jury is investigating whether ''any crime has been committed by the archdiocese, certain bishops, priests, and/or Cardinal Law in connection with the same conduct alleged in the ... pending civil lawsuits.''

In the lawsuits, plaintiff's attorneys allege that Law and other church supervisors were negligent when they allowed priests accused of abuse to remain in parish work. Instead of removing them from positions where they would continue to have access to children, the church transferred the priests from parish to parish.

Reilly has repeatedly said that state law makes it virtually impossible to charge church officials with concealing clergy misdeeds or failing to protect children.

Until just a few months ago, church officials in Massachusetts were not bound to report sexual abuse of children. A new law now requires it.


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