Protesters Demand AG Indict Church Officials

By Nicole Fuller
Boston Globe
July 23, 2003

While the state prepared to release the results of its 16-month probe into the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal, dozens of protesters gathered outside the attorney general's downtown office yesterday to express outrage that no ranking church officials will be indicted.

"We demand; we are not asking, that Attorney General [Thomas F.] Reilly find ways to indict," said Paul A. Baier, president of Survivors First, an advocacy group for victims of clergy sex abuse, who was flanked by protesters as he spoke to the media outside One Ashburton Place.

The protest was spurred by a Sunday night announcement that Reilly will not seek to indict Cardinal Bernard F. Law and other high-ranking church officials who allegedly failed to report sex abuse by priests. The report, which is scheduled to be released today at an 11 a.m. news conference, outlines the church's role in the scandal and makes recommendations to the archdiocese to prevent further mishandling, according to Reilly spokeswoman Ann E. Donlan.

After stating their case outside the building, protesters delivered letters to the offices of Reilly, Governor Mitt Romney, and House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, stating their disapproval of the decision, calling it "political," and denouncing the state's "deference" to the church.

"We want him [Reilly] to go back to the books and find a law to hold the bishops accountable," said Anne Barrett Doyle, a founder of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors. "If we can't keep our bishops accountable, then we'll have to keep our politicians accountable."

The letter called for Reilly to indict the archdiocese corporation for criminal liability, to investigate alleged destruction of documents by church officials, and to sue the archdiocese to require it to fund alternative counseling services outside of the church for survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of priests. It also called on Romney and federal authorities to name a special prosecutor to conduct a statewide investigation and for lawmakers to eliminate the criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sexual abuse.

Spokesmen for Reilly and Finneran declined to comment on the protest or the letter. A Romney spokesman also declined to comment.

One speaker outside Reilly's office, Steven H. Lynch, 44, of Danvers, an alleged rape victim of the late Rev. Samuel J. Lombard and a vocal critic of the church's handling of the crisis, asked for officials to think of the children who could potentially be affected if the church isn't punished. In February of 2002, Lynch was arrested after he confronted Law during a Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

"If nothing's going to be done, why did I come forward?" Lynch asked onlookers, his voice cracking. "There's thousands of people that need to feel safe. And Reilly needs to make it feel safe."

This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 7/23/2003.


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