Skip to comments.Boy in abuse case called negligent (Mine: Law's brain-dead attorneys are part of the problem)
Posted on 04/29/2002 7:57:00 AM PDT by sinkspur
BOSTON - Cardinal Bernard F. Law has asserted that "negligence" by a boy and his parents contributed to alleged sexual abuse by a priest in Law's Catholic diocese.
Law's claim, filed in court by his attorneys, came in his first legal response to allegations that the Rev. Paul R. Shanley began molesting a Newton boy when the boy was 6 years old.
The cardinal's claim is boilerplate legal defense language. But a lawyer who is not involved in the case and has handled other cases involving allegations of clergy sex abuse said Sunday night that the decision to use such a claim in so sensitive a case showed poor judgment.
Carmen Durso, a Boston lawyer who represents others who say they are victims of abuse, said he found no legal fault with the language. But for Law to use it, Durso said, "is dumb beyond belief."
Durso added: "From the start, the archdiocese has been incredibly stupid in the way they have handled this crisis. And as hard as it was to do, they have managed to make things worse."
On Sunday night, the parents of the boy, who was allegedly abused by Shanley between 1983 and 1989, said they are furious.
"To say my son is legally responsible for his own abuse at the hands of this monster Shanley when my son was only 6 years old is horrific," said Rodney Ford, father of Gregory Ford. In the lawsuit, the Fords charge that Law was negligent in overseeing Shanley, who he knew, or should have known, was a danger to children.
A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and a psychotherapist who has treated both pedophile priests and their victims, said the language chosen by Law's attorney was "as reprehensible as any defense I have ever seen in one of these cases." Sipe said the message that Roman Catholics will take from Law's claim is that "the cardinal is saying that every Catholic child and every Catholic parent should have been watching out for every Catholic priest."
Donna M. Morrissey, the spokeswoman for the archdiocese, did not return telephone calls Sunday. But a lawyer familiar with the church's legal strategy said Sunday night that the cardinal probably would not have been consulted about the negligence claim against the plaintiffs. The attorney, who asked that he not be identified, said Law's lawyer, Wilson Rogers Jr., would have been "derelict" had he not included every possible legal defense in his response.
The cardinal's response involves the same lawsuit that forced the archdiocese to release more than 800 pages of Shanley's records this month. They indicate that Law and his predecessor, Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros, were aware of Shanley's longtime advocacy for sex between men and boys. His records also contain allegations that he molested teen-age boys in 1966.
Last week, the case further embarrassed the archdiocese, when the church's lawyers released an additional 800 pages of Shanley's records to the Fords' attorney, explaining that they had turned up in another priest's files. Those records contained additional damaging information.
The cardinal's six-page response to the lawsuit against him by Gregory Ford and his parents, Rodney and Paula Ford of Newton, was filed in Middlesex Superior Court this month. A copy of it was provided to the Globe.
Stay tuned. I am sure we will be dumbstruck, outraged, and pulling our hair out many more times as we watch the antics by the American Princes of the Church.