Archdiocese to Turn over All Info on Priests; Archdioces to Give All Info to AG
By Robin Washington
March 18, 2002
After a 24-hour extension due to the Evacuation Day holiday, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is slated to turn over full information of all allegations of child sex abuse by priests to Attorney General Thomas Reilly tomorrow.
The disclosure follows a handover last month of the names of scores of priests but few other facts, sparking prosecutors to deem the information worthless.
"We're expecting to receive information from the archdiocese that would pertain to victims and the underlying circumstances involved in the allegations," Attorney General spokeswoman Ann Donlan said.
"We'll also be looking for information on the time periods so that it will be easier to match up the names of priests and the circumstances. Obviously, there's going to be a great deal of work involved in trying to sort through all that," she said of records stretching back five decades and covering five counties comprising Greater Boston.
Donlan said it is unclear if the church will include allegations of child sex crimes committed by Bay State priests over the border in New Hampshire and Connecticut - cases that could be unaffected by statute of limitation laws within individual states.
An archdiocese spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for clarification on such cases. Several alleged victims and lawyers say those cases were documented in settlement agreements.
The full disclosure agreement is with the Boston Archdiocese only and does not include neighboring dioceses, such as Worcester, which struck a separate reporting deal with the Worcester County District Attorney, Donlan said.
It also does not cover priests in Catholic religious orders, such as the Jesuits, who operate independent of dioceses.
Church records for the year 2000 show 932 archdiocesan priests in Metropolitan Boston and 842 order priests.
Though the Society of Jesus provided the names of five priests related to molestation cases at Boston College High School, spokesmen for several district attorneys say no other order has followed suit.
"We've not received any from any other orders," Suffolk County District Attorney spokesman David Procopio said.
He added however, "I don't know of any other specific allegations."
At least one order priest accused of child molestation in Middlesex County has apparently evaded official notice, officials said.
Though two alleged victims have charged the Rev. Mario Pezzotti of abuse in Holliston in the 1960s and 1970s, Middlesex County District Attorney spokesman Paul Melaragni said he hasn't seen the name.
"I know the archdiocese has turned over the list. But I haven't heard about any others. We would have heard of that," he said.
Representatives of the Xaverian Missionary Fathers in Holliston and New Jersey declined comment. One of Pezzotti's alleged victims, Gloria Delbene of Plainville, decried the inconsistent policies of the archdiocese and the order.
"There shouldn't be a difference. Catholic is Catholic," she said.
Meanwhile, the Rev. D. George Spagnolia, who gained attention after defying Bernard Cardinal Law's edict that he vacate a Lowell parish due to a child sex abuse case three decades ago, joined calls for Law to resign.
"His Eminence has gone from covering up and handling it that way for so long that now it appears . . . he's throwing us to the wolves," Spagnolia said on ABC News' "This Week."
After admitting he engaged in consensual homosexual relationships while on a 20-year leave of absence, Spagnolia ultimately complied with Law's order.
Last week, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said he would not prosecute Spagnolia for the child sex case because of the statute of limitations has expired.
As Spagnolia spoke out, the cardinal celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross with barely a whisper of the scandal, despite a dozen or more protesters outside the South End church and a gaggle of news reporters inside.
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