Boston cardinal testifies in sex scandal


BOSTON, May 8 (UPI) -- Boston Cardinal Bernard Law appeared to have difficulty recalling details of events more than two decades ago while testifying under oath Wednesday about his perceived failure to prevent an accused pedophile priest from having continued access to children.

An attorney representing a group of alleged sexual assault victims in a civil lawsuit against Law and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said after the five-hour deposition that he found Law "evasive."


"I think he's hiding the culture of darkness within the archdiocese," Mitchell Garabedian told reporters after the session.

"There's a culture of secrecy, a culture of darkness, involving evil and all this sexual molestation," the lawyer said. "I think that's being hidden very clearly."

According to a transcript of the deposition, Law basically was unable to recall when he first heard of the Rev. John Geoghan or learned that the priest had been accused of molesting boys in the early 1980s.


Law -- believed to be the first cardinal ordered to give sworn testimony over his handling of priests who allegedly molested children -- was ordered to appear at a deposition behind closed doors before Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney.

The most senior Roman Catholic prelate in the United States arrived at the courthouse amid tight security in a car with tinted windows. He avoided the waiting media by entering an underground garage passageway normally used to bring prisoners into the facility.

The judge had ordered the deposition at the request of Garabedian, an attorney for 86 people who have filed a civil lawsuit against Law, five of his bishops, and the Archdiocese of Boston.

Questioned by Garabedian and his associate, William Gordon, Law was asked about letters that bore his signature as evidence that he had received them in 1984, his first year in Boston. The letters informed the archdiocese that a priest, Geoghan, had been accused of molesting seven members of an extended family. On the back of one envelop, Law wrote to a subordinate: "Urgent, please follow through."

In nearly 100 pages of transcript released after more than three hours of testimony during the morning, Law said he did not recall when he first learned of Geoghan or the 1984 letters alleging Geoghan had been molesting boys in one Boston parish.


Asked if he could recall when he first heard of Geoghan, Law replied, "I do not."

As to whether he recalled one of the letters placed before him, Law answered: "I do not recall seeing this letter as I sit here before you and try to reconstruct what I knew and didn't know in 1984. I do not recall seeing this letter at that time."

"So as of 1984, your memory of September of 1984, you were unaware that Father Geoghan had admitted to Bishop Daily to molesting boys?" he was asked.

Law said, "I do not recall having been informed of this by Father, by Bishop Daily, no."

The cardinal also said he didn't make decisions on the transfer of accused priests on his own, after they'd received treatment. He said he relied on doctors and subordinates who had the "expertise that I lacked ... in assessing what this person could safely do or not do."

Garabedian asked for the emergency order after the archdiocese on Friday backed out of a multimillion-dollar settlement with victims who said they were sexually assaulted by Geoghan.

The suit accuses Law and his subordinates of negligence for transferring Geoghan from one Boston-area parish to another even though they knew he had been accused of molesting children.


Geoghan, who was defrocked in 1998, was convicted earlier this year of molesting a 10-year-old boy and was sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison.

The deposition was just one of several developments in the sex-scandal plagued archdiocese.

A former priest, admitted child molester Ronald H. Paquin, was arraignment Wednesday in Haverhill, Mass., on a charge of raping a child under 16. He was ordered held on $100,000 bail.

Essex County District Attorney Kevin M. Burke announced late Tuesday that Paquin, 59, was arrested because authorities had reason to believe he was about to leave the area.

State police arrested Paquin outside his Malden home where some men were moving some of his furniture into a truck.

Burke said the charges against Paquin involved allegations he sexually assaulted a boy some 50 times from 1990 to 1992.

The boy was 12 at the time the attacks began when he was an altar boy at St. John the Baptist Parish in Haverhill, according to the alleged victim's attorney, Jeffrey A. Newman.

Newman said that when he realized the alleged attacks fell within the statute of limitations, he immediately brought the young man to the state police.

Paquin has admitted in newspaper reports that he molested boys during his 20 years as a priest.


Another accused pedophile priest, Paul R. Shanley, was arraigned Tuesday in Cambridge on three counts of raping a child in Newton. Authorities allege Shanley repeatedly raped the boy starting in 1983 when the boy was between the ages of 6 and 13.

Shanley, 71, arrested as a fugitive in San Diego late last week, was ordered held on $750,000 bail after a judge entered pleas of not guilty on his behalf.

Law is expected to also be deposed in the Shanley case early next month, but attorneys were expected to ask that the session be held earlier out of concern that Law could be called to the Vatican by the pope, where he would be out of reach of local law enforcement authorities.

(The full transcript can be found on the Web site,

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