Reilly Forwards Report to Conte

By Richard Nangle
Telegram & Gazette [Worcester MA]
Downloaded July 26, 2003

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly has sent a copy of his report on sexual abuse in the Boston Catholic archdiocese to Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte, as an example of what Mr. Reilly's spokesman said should be a model for similar investigations.

The attorney general hopes the report "will serve as a model for the Worcester diocese and others throughout the country to better ensure the protection of children," said Corey Welford, a spokesman for the attorney general. He added that Mr. Reilly is not involved in an investigation of the Worcester diocese, declining to elaborate.

Mr. Conte did not return a call to his office yesterday.

Mr. Reilly filed no criminal charges after a 16-month investigation of the Boston archdiocese. He said about 1,000 people were molested by 237 priests and 13 other archdiocesan workers dating back to the 1940s. He said weak state laws prevented him from pursuing charges.

Mary T. Jean of Worcester Voice, a separate organization from the Catholic group Worcester Voice of the Faithful, and who last week released a report of her own on the clergy abuse scandal in the Worcester diocese, called Mr. Reilly's report "a model of shame."

"I will give them that no child endangerment laws were on the books, and the church was well aware of that," she said.

Mr. Reilly said the leaders of the Boston archdiocese engaged in a "massive, inexcusable failure" to do anything about sexual abuse by priests.

"The mistreatment of children was so massive and so prolonged that it borders on the unbelievable," he said.

A grand jury was convened last summer to consider charging archdiocesan leaders.

According to Mrs. Jean's Worcester Voice report, the Worcester Catholic diocese obstructed efforts by Mr. Conte to investigate allegations of clergy abuse. The report says diocesan officials withheld some documents from the information it turned over to the Worcester district attorney's office.

Victim advocates have criticized Mr. Conte in the past for a too-cozy relationship with Bishop Daniel P. Reilly and said they prefer the stance taken by district attorneys in Eastern Massachusetts who aggressively pursued information from Cardinal Bernard F. Law before his resignation in December.

Mrs. Jean, in her report, said she did not go along with the view that Mr. Conte has been insufficiently adversarial with the diocese.

The district attorney has closed investigations on six suspended Worcester diocese priests over statute of limitations issues. He has asked Canadian authorities to take over the investigation of a seventh priest, Rev. John J. Bagley, who allegedly sexually abused a Worcester youth in that country in the 1970s.

Mr. Conte has not released any details about the investigations.


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