Protesters Call for Release of R.I. Archdiocese Records

By Robin Washington
Boston Herald [Providence RI]
March 17, 2003

PROVIDENCE - A woman who turned down a $400,000 settlement for sexual abuse by a now-deceased Rhode Island priest was joined by three dozen protesters yesterday who bolstered her call for the Diocese of Providence to release its files on molester clergy.

Mary Ryan, who was among 39 plaintiffs granted a $14.25 million settlement in September for sexual abuse by 10 priests and a nun, had refused to accept her share until the church opened its files.

Joining her on the unusually quiet picket line and procession around Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral was another of the plaintiffs, Newport's Joe Ruggeri, who filed his suit 10 years ago today.

"These secret files, I don't know what they're afraid of. What do they have to cover up?" he said.

Of Ryan, he added: "I think she's brave. I just wish I had had the strength to keep on going, but I lost 10 years. It exhausted me."

Ryan declined comment except to say she was "overwhelmed" by the protesters, most of whom hailed from the Bay State. Among them was Wellesley's Ann Hagan Webb, also an alleged victim of a Rhode Island priest.

"I have spoken out countless times," she said. "Speaking out in Rhode Island is different. It terrifies me."

Providence Bishop Robert E. Mulvee did not appear at the lightly attended Mass and a diocese spokesman did not return a call for comment on the requested file release.

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