Mass. Won't Charge Boston Diocese Leaders

By Mark Pratt
Associated Press, carried in The Plain Dealer [Boston MA]
July 21, 2003

Boston- No criminal charges will be filed against any church officials in the Archdiocese of Boston for allowing sexually abusive priests to remain in parish work, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office said yesterday.

Attorney General Thomas Reilly's report, based in part on an investigation by the state grand jury he convened, documents what happened in the archdiocese and suggests changes to prevent future abuse, according to WBZ-TV of Boston, which cited an unidentified source who has reviewed the document.

The attorney general's office would not release the document yesterday but said the television report was accurate.

"The attorney general has completed a comprehensive 16-month investigation of the Archdiocese of Boston and the report will be released sometime this week," said Reilly spokesman Corey Welford.

Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney for more than 100 alleged abuse victims, said he had not seen the attorney general's report but expressed disappointment that no criminal charges would be filed.

"Given the number of tragedies that have occurred by these sexual molestations and the allowance of these sexual molestations, many of my clients were hoping that there would be indictments so church leaders and individuals would be held responsible," he said.

An archdiocese spokesman, the Rev. Christopher Coyne said he could not comment until the report was made public.

The grand jury investigated whether the former Boston archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, and many of his top aides, some of whom are now bishops elsewhere, could be held criminally responsible for moving priests from parish to parish when they knew of abuse allegations.

Reilly said in April that it would be difficult to indict church supervisors for allowing abusive priests to remain in parish work because of weak child-protection laws in Massachusetts when the abuse took place. Reilly came to the same conclusion after the grand jury investigation, according to the report.

Law resigned as archbishop in December, after nearly a year of criticism over his role in allowing abusive priests to remain in parish work. Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley was named July 1 as his successor, and will be installed as archbishop at the end of the month. Bishop Richard Lennon has served as interim head of the archdiocese since Law's resignation.

The archdiocese is facing about 500 civil suits from alleged victims of clergy sex abuse.


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