Judge Postpones Ruling on Documents
By David Abel
A Suffolk Superior Court judge yesterday put off a ruling on what documents and information the Archdiocese of Boston and the now-defunct Boston School for the Deaf must provide attorneys representing more than 18 former students who claim nuns and other staff at the school subjected them to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
At a hearing yesterday afternoon, Judge Margot Botsford denied the attorneys' request that the archdiocese and the school immediately turn over thousands of records and provide a list of potential witnesses. Instead, she ordered attorneys from both sides to meet at least twice over the next several weeks, work out their differences, and report back any disagreements early next month.
"We believe the defendants have stonewalled us for months," said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer representing the alleged victims, many of whom attended the hearing yesterday and had told stories of being raped and otherwise abused decades ago. "But we're moving forward. We believe the judge has begun the process."
Attorneys representing the archdiocese and the defunct Boston School for the Deaf, a residential facility in Randolph run by nuns until it closed in 1994, said they were not trying to block plaintiffs from reviewing the records. They argued the plaintiffs' attorneys were seeking an immense number of records that would be extremely difficult to amass for a century-old institution that closed its doors a decade ago.
"I don't think there's any merit to their case," said William J. Dailey Jr., a lawyer representing the archdiocese, adding he was not aware of any such previous allegations against the school.
About the judge's ruling, he said: "It's very satisfactory. I think it provides good order to the case. We need guidance."
Earlier this year, plaintiffs filed the first of two lawsuits, which named nuns from the Brighton-based Sisters of St. Joseph, two priests, an athletic instructor, and a former top official in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Garabedian's clients, some as young as 5 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, said they were abused between 1944 and 1977. Many of them are now between 40 and 70 years old, all are hearing- or speech-impaired; and they said they were forced to do such things as lick soap until they vomited, and were fondled and sexually molested.
Garabedian said many of the clients approached him late last year, after he represented some of the clergy abuse victims who reached the historic $85 million settlement with the archdiocese.
The judge yesterday also ruled against a motion by the defendants to
separate the two lawsuits plaintiffs filed earlier this year into 18 different
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