Attorneys, Mediators Meet Over Church Abuse Crisis
Victims Attempt to Reach Settlement with Church [Boston MA]
July 11, 2003

BOSTON -- Attempts to reach a settlement in the clergy sex scandal continue.

NewsCenter 5's Jorge Quiroga reported that on Friday, lawyers for alleged victims meeting met with the attorney hand-picked by Archbishop-Elect Sean O'Malley. The meeting comes at a critical time for the Church. There are new developments in the case of the Rev. Paul Shanley.

Shanley, as well as other priests accused of sexual abuse, were routinely returned to neighborhood parishes with the recommendation, among others, of MGH psychiatrist Edwin Cassem, Quiroga reported. In fact, Cardinal Bernard Law said Cassem, who is also a Jesuit priest, was his principal advisor.

But documents now show Cassem believes Law and other church leaders misled him about the extent of the abuse.

"The evidence I was presented today is overwhelming, shocking, appalling evidence about what the priests that I was consulted about actually did," Cassem admitted in a deposition.

"The only mistake that you may have made is trusting the people to whom you gave this opinion, is that correct," Cassem was asked.

"It was a big mistake," Cassem said. "I feel deceived"

"We were all fooled. Dr. Cassem is not alone. We feel exactly the same way. We have been betrayed," Paula Ford, an alleged victim's mother said.

Ford said just like Cassem was given half the facts, church attorneys continue using half-truths to discredit her son, Gregory, who is now 25 years old.

If the case against Shanley gets to trial, the Fords expect his defense to include allegations that Gregory Ford accused people other than Shanley of molesting him. Medical records from 1997 state, "the patient revealed being sexually molested by a neighbor or cousin."

"When in fact this was a childhood game between young kids playing strip poker. And my question was how would a young kid at that age learn to play strip poker? And now today, I know that answer -- from Paul Shanley," Gregory Ford's father, Rodney Ford, said.

The Fords say the aggressive tactic is an attempt by the church's old guard to derail reconciliation promised by Archbishop-Elect Sean O'Malley two weeks ago.

"They are sabotaging everything he represents. This is about the old guard that has been going along trying to get in their licks," Paula Ford said.

The Fords say the two prong approach by the church, talk and attack, has prompted them to change their tactics. On Friday, they instructed their attorneys to resume litigation efforts waiting for O'Malley to arrive in Boston.


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