140 New Victims Have Come Forward in Year since Settlement

By Donis Tracy
Archdiocese of Boston
September 17, 2004

Pilot Correspondent

The Archdiocese of Boston has received allegations from more than 140 new victims of clergy sexual abuse in the year following the $85 million settlement reached with over 550 victims.

The cases come as no surprise to the archdiocese, according to Father Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston.

"Everyone fully expected that, after a global settlement, there would be other claims because that's been the pattern in any other legal settlement of that nature," said Father Coyne.

"It is naive for anyone to think that the resolution of over 50 years of sexual abuse of minors will culminate in 5 to 6 years," said Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 41 of the new victims. "These victims have continued to come forward and I believe they will continue to come forward for years to come."

According to Father Coyne, the allegations have been coming in steadily since the global settlement which was reached in Sept. 2003. Victims' attorneys, including Garabedian, were still receiving allegations of abuse, even as the deadline was approaching to opt in to the 2003 settlement. The victims' attorneys told the archdiocese they would not be able to process them in time to be included in the $85 million settlement.

Speaking with The Pilot, Garabedian said he had warned the archdiocese during last year's settlement talks that he had "several" other potential claimants, but was unable to "make any claims at that time because [he] was too busy."

According to Father Coyne, the alleged instances of abuse occurred between 1950's and the 1980's. In addition, none of the priests named is still in active ministry.

Although he could not say how many different priests had been accused, Father Coyne confirmed that all but four were no longer in active ministry by the time of the 2003 settlement. The four priests that have been placed on leave since that time are: Father John E. McLaughlin, Father William M. Walsh, Father Charles J. Murphy and Father Joseph P. Fratic.

The 2003 settlement was reached shortly after the archbishop appointed Thomas Hannigan Jr. to be lead counsel in legal matters involving clergy sexual abuse, one of his first acts as Archbishop of Boston.

Archbishop O'Malley directed Hannigan to negotiate the settlement even though insurance companies, which according to the archdiocese had liability for many of the claims, had refused to pay.

The settlement was funded through short-term loans which were repaid through the sale of archdiocesan property, including the archbishop's residence, to Boston College for nearly $100 million.

The archdiocese has since filed suit against the insurance carriers to force them to pay the claims. Father Coyne said that the archdiocese hopes to use any funds eventually recovered from insurance companies to pay claims from these new victims.

These lawsuits are "ongoing," Father Coyne said, but he declined to speculate as to how long it would be before they were resolved.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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