Abuse Suit against Nuns Is Crumbling: Case Near Closing
Last of 14 plaintiffs deciding whether he wants to proceed

By Lane Lambert
Patriot Ledger
February 7, 2006

Two years ago, it was a case that grabbed headlines and shocked the public: 18 former students of the Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph claimed in a lawsuit that nuns of the Sisters of St. Joseph and their priest supervisors had sexually, physically and emotionally abused them.

Now the entire case may be closed -- by the plaintiffs.

Thirteen of the 14 remaining claims against one nun and three supervisors were voluntarily withdrawn Friday, and the plaintiffs' attorney says the last holdout -- a Quincy man in his late 40s -- may soon quit the case, too.

"He's deciding whether he wants to proceed," Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian said last night.

The Quincy man who's the lone claimant said he was between 12 and 15 years old when his alleged abuse occurred. He said a nun made him stand in his underwear while she washed his pants.

Four other claims against the nuns and their supervisors were dismissed or withdrawn last year. The suit filed in May 2004 accused 13 nuns and their supervisors of abuse from 1944 through 1977.

Their attorneys said the plaintiffs were inspired to sue after sex abuse victims of priests won multimillion-dollar settlements from the Archdiocese of Boston. The former school for the deaf students said they hadn't understood what happened to them until after the priest sex abuse scandal came to light.

The Boston School for the Deaf opened in Jamaica Plain in 1899 and moved to Randolph in 1904. The school was closed in the early 1990s, and the building was later sold to the Boston Higashi School for autistic children.

Garabedian said the 13 former students who dropped their claims last week are "sad and upset" that they can't proceed. He said their decision was based on legal technicalities and not the merits of their claims.

He said the judge hearing the case recently made two rulings that made it difficult or impossible for most of the claims to stand: She decided that some weren’t within the statute of limitations, and she didn’t allow the testimony of “pattern and practice†witnesses, who Garabedian said could have described the patterns of alleged abusive actions. Lane Lambert may be reached at


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