70 More Bring Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Boston Archdiocese

New York Times
January 30, 2003

Lawsuits on behalf of 70 people were filed here today accusing 41 current or former Roman Catholic priests in the Boston Archdiocese of sexually molesting them. The new claims, a number of them also alleging negligence by clerical supervisors, bring the total of outstanding suits against the archdiocese or its priests to some 470.

The lawyer who filed today's claims, Mitchell Garabedian, said that of the 70 cases -- one concerning abuse that the plaintiff says occurred as long ago as 1941 -- 23 involved rape.

Thirteen priests were named in lawsuits for the first time. Of those, five are still alive, and at least three remain in ministry within the archdiocese: the Rev. Edward Keohan and the Rev. Edward Sherry, listed as active pastors, and the Rev. Edmund Charest, who Mr. Garabedian said held an administrative position. Father Keohan is accused of repeatedly groping a boy two decades ago, and Father Sherry and Father Charest are accused of rape.

The archdiocese itself is named as a defendant in 52 of the suits. An archdiocesan spokeswoman, Donna M. Morrissey, said she had no comment because she had not seen the suits.

The new claims allege negligence by 22 current or former clergy supervisors in Boston, including Cardinal Bernard F. Law; Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H.; Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn; Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford; and Bishop Daniel A. Hart of Norwich, Conn.

One plaintiff, Anastasia Poulos, 70, of nearby Saugus, Mass., said in an interview that she and her older sister were sexually abused by the Rev. Charles Loeffler intermittently for six months beginning in 1941, when she was 9. Ms. Poulos said she had repressed the abuse until the past year, when hearing the accounts of other victims caused her to remember her own abuse and led her to contact Mr. Garabedian. Having heard that clergy abuse in Boston stretched back to the 1950's, she said, she wanted lawyers to know that it had happened even earlier.

Bishop Richard G. Lennon, the interim leader of the archdiocese, has said he is determined to settle all outstanding cases. Ms. Morrissey said today that Bishop Lennon had received permission from a church advisory group to sell 11 archdiocesan properties to help settle the claims. But she would not identify the properties. Nor would Bishop Lennon, in telling The Associated Press that their sale would net $10 million to $15 million.


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