AG Says Cardinal Knew All

By Tom Mashberg
Boston Herald
July 24, 2003

Bernard Cardinal Law knew enough to stop and expose the archdiocese's clergy sex abuse scandal from virtually the start of his Boston tenure, Attorney General Tom Reilly said yesterday.

"He knew exactly what he was doing," Reilly said during an interview with Herald editors. "Any suggestion he was not aware of it is not credible. I don't buy it."

Instead, according to a report issued by Reilly, for nearly two decades Law embraced the church's "culture of concealment" and took part "directly in crucial decisions concerning the assignment of abusive priests . . . that typically increased the risk to children."

A key episode came in November 1984, Reilly noted, just eight months after Law was installed.

Law visited the St. Luke Institute in Maryland, an in-patient facility used by the church to treat sexually abusive priests. Reilly's report says Law was briefed by staff on the mindset of pedophile priests.

Barely a year later, Law received a letter from a separate treatment center that dealt often with priests that warned, "There has been a great deal of recidivism among treated pedophiles." And throughout the 1980s, fresh allegations of sexual abuse arose against a dozen or so priests under Law's stewardship - including repeat offenders.

"In 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, he could clearly have blown the whistle anywhere along the way," Reilly said.

"The annual personnel reports, the cash payments to victims, the files, the totality of the evidence makes it quite clear."

Law was in Florida yesterday on personal business, according to his Boston lawyer, J. Owen Todd, and would receive a copy of the report in coming days. Todd said neither he nor Law would comment until both had time to study the report.

In the past, Law has said a lack of proper record keeping and his practice of delegating staffing decisions to subordinates - specifically Bishops Robert J. Banks, now of Green Bay, Wis.; Alfred R. Hughes of New Orleans; John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H.; and William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, Long Island, N.Y. - explained why the scandal was buried for so long.

Asked whether Law or his bishops should remain Roman Catholic prelates given the actions outlined in his report, Reilly said:

"I don't see how anyone can remain in a post of responsibility within this or any church after so clearly putting their own interests above the protection of children."


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