Abuse Victims Vow: Not Done Yet

By Eunice Kim
Roslindale Transcript [Roslindale MA]
September 18, 2003

Parkway Catholics say the Archdiocese of Boston's $85 million settlement offer to alleged clergy sex abuse victims is the first step in the healing process, but some proclaim the battle is far from over.

"It's not just about the money. My fight is not over. I'm not angry. I'm just not done," said David Carney, who alleges he was abused by Monsignor Frederick Ryan when he was a 15-year-old student at Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury. "It would be foolish to take the money and walk away. Justice hasn't been served yet in my eyes."

The church last week promised the $85 settlement to 552 alleged victims of molestation by clergy, in addition to other guarantees, such as the indefinite financial coverage of therapy for victims.

"It's a good first step," said Monsignor Francis Kelley, parish priest of Sacred Heart. "It addresses a lot of the concerns of those who have been abused. ... It gives everyone some confidence that we're meeting at least the personal and legal issues, dealing with people who are victims."

Kelly called the settlement a blessing for everyone.

"It's good news for the first time in a long time," he said.

Kelley and many others applauded Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley for moving the settlement along quickly.

"It's wonderful that Bishop O'Malley has been able to do it so quickly since we've been stalled for so long," said Jim Lalonde, of the Parkway chapter of the Voice of the Faithful.

Carney said he liked that O'Malley moved things forward. "O'Malley did come in here, he said he was going to some business, and he did it and he did it quickly. He didn't let it drag on for another year," he said.

The sexual abuse scandal touched the Parkway in many ways. Monsignor Ryan, a former vice chancellor of the archdiocese, was accused of molesting two Catholic Memorial students, Carney and Gary Garland. Also, Robert Costello, a former altar boy at St. Theresa of Avila parish, accused the late Rev. John Cotter with abusing him in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The late John Geoghan, a convicted abuser, was accused of raping a Roslindale boy in the early 1980s.

More than cash

Under the new settlement, accusers have until mid-October to sign up for the settlement and, if they do so, their names will be kept confidential by the Archdiocese. They will receive between $80,000 and $300,000, depending on the nature of their molestation.

"No amount of money could ever heal someone and give them back what was taken from them. Money is just an expression, an admission of guilt, that wrong was done to these victims," Lalonde said.

Though Carney sees the settlement as an admission of guilt, he said, "The language will never state that."

"When you're handed money, you think you'd get a glow inside, but it doesn't happen," Carney said. "As far as the amount goes, nobody can say, is it enough, is it not enough. That's in the eyes of the beholder. ... Either way, it's not going to make things go away."

Garland said the money is irrelevant and is not the reason he came forward. If it was about the money, he said he would have filed lawsuits against Catholic Memorial and the Christian Brothers, but he did not. In addition, Garland said Ryan offered to pay him, prior to his going public, by mortgaging his mother's home in Chelsea. But Garland declined.

"If nothing changes, nothing changes," he said. "I had the opportunity to enter this as John Doe and never be known to anybody. For me, the issue is that no young child ever got hurt again, to make people aware."

Garland said he knows of other Catholic Memorial students who did not come forward but contacted him. "I fought the fight for those people," he said. "I want to put it behind me as far as my closure ... I've done my part."

Mitchell Garabedian, who represented Carney and Garland, among many other victims, said the settlement is "too little, too late" for some. But for the majority, it is a sign the church did something wrong and recognizes that. This means a lot to the victims, he said.

"The settlement is a way for the victims to free themselves of unnecessary guilt, regain some self-esteem, some worth and self-dignity," he added.

As part of the settlement, the church will add victims to its panel that reviews complaints against priests. In addition, a new advisory board will be established and will consist mainly of victims and their relatives. Many see this non-financial aspect of the settlement, including the coverage of therapy, as extremely important.

"Pastorally, there a big difference between a legal settlement and a pastoral settlement. This is must more personal. That's necessary," Kelly said.

Garabedian said parts of the settlement indicate a change in the church's attitude in dealing with victims. In addition, he said the fact that Archbishop O'Malley is willing to meet one on one with victims shows the church has changed in regards to the plight of victims.

Not over yet

Carney insisted that the fight is not over.

"By no means are we done here. These priests, although the victims are paid, these priests are still out there. These priest are still priests. They are just suspended priests," he said, adding that he wants to see the priests defrocked. "The archdiocese needs to step up to the plate. I'm not going away ... It wouldn't have served the purpose of me stepping forward."

Carney, who lives in Rockland, is currently working with others to have Ryan arrested.

"That's my next project," he said, adding that he is waiting on people to help him.

Carney hopes Rhode Island convenes a grand jury, because that's where he alleges one the rapes occurred. He still needs to see Ryan convicted of sexual abuse. "I want him in prison where he belongs," Carney said.

Garland, who intends to help Carney in his fight in Rhode Island, said Ryan cannot go without retribution. "He needs to repent. There's got to be ramifications for what he did," he said.

Ryan has the right to go before a tribunal of the church and ask to be reinstated, and Garland said he will be there to testify when Ryan does so. In addition, Carney said Catholic Memorial has not stepped forward and reached out to him or other victims who were students there.

"They have turned their back on students who went there. They have not talked to us once," Carney said.

A former football and hockey captain and freshman hockey coach, Garland said he was basically shunned by Catholic Memorial. Garland donated $25,000 of office equipment to the school.

"I don't need to be understood. I just need to understand what happened to me," he said. "I'm hurt by Catholic Memorial. They know what happened there. They decided to think with their heads and not with their hearts. I don't think it's a Catholic thing to do."

Garland said he reached out to Brother James MacDonald, president of Catholic Memorial, but received no help. "The irony of all of this, you know who reached out to me? BC [Boston College] High, our archrival," he said. "I will never forget that."

CM's MacDonald said the school did not reach out to Carney and Garland "as we should have" because, "I was operating under the assumption that the Archdiocese was reaching out to them, offering them counseling and support, which I only found about a month ago did not occur."

MacDonald said he was expecting the Archdiocese to support them because they were alleged victims of Monsignor Ryan, who was a priest of the Archdiocese.

"CM certainly stands in solidarity with any victim of abuse ... I'm very sorry we didn't reach out to them ... when they weren't being supported," MacDonald said, adding that he met with Garland about a month ago. "As these things unfolded, we were not prepared to deal with the allegations and complexity of the lives of abuse that occurred ... It's been a horrible burden that they and their families have carried with them."

Any victim, MacDonald said, is free to conduct Catholic Memorial which can provide appropriate referrals for counseling.

Looking ahead

Many view the church settlement as just one step in a very long healing process.

"We still have a long way to go. First you have to admit to the problem before you can start solving it," Lalonde said. "The damage is still there."

Lalonde said any remaining cases, if any, need to be settled, and the church needs to be brought back together. There has been a lot of mistrust, he said.

"I'm hoping that we can get everyone talking again, getting all the sides together," Lalonde added. "The lay people have to get back with the church, and the bishops have to be more open in allowing lay people participate in the church. We've seen what can happen if you don't have a balanced view of things."

The local chapter of the Voice of the Faithful, a lay group, is hosting a panel discussion at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 29, at St. John Chrysostom at 4740 Washington St. Parkway priests have been invited to come, and people will be able to talk about how to start getting things back on track.

"We're trying to get dialogue going, how people can support their parishes," Lalonde said.


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