Boston Church Officials May Face Federal Charges
By THEO EMERY, Associated Press Writer
August 26, 2003
BOSTON - The chief federal prosecutor in Boston said Tuesday
he is weighing whether to bring charges against officials
of the Boston Archdiocese for covering up the sexual abuse
of children for more than 60 years.
Victims of child-molesting priests had asked U.S. Attorney
Michael Sullivan last month to prosecute the church under
federal law after the Massachusetts attorney general concluded
that he was unable to bring state charges.
"We're just at the very preliminary stages," Sullivan
said. "Obviously at some point in time we'll let people
know if there is any ability to move forward. At this point
it's just too premature."
Last month, state Attorney General Thomas Reilly released
a report detailing a "massive, inexcusable failure"
by officials in the Boston Archdiocese to protect children.
The report said that more than 1,000 people were probably
abused by 237 priests since 1940.
But Reilly concluded that state laws were too weak in the
past for him to bring charges now. After the scandal broke
in early 2002, state lawmakers strengthened child protection
Reilly's decision angered victims, who said the church should
be held accountable. They called on Sullivan to prosecute
the church under federal racketeering laws.
Sullivan declined to comment on the possibility of a racketeering
"I think it would be premature and completely speculative
for me to even go down a particular path with regard to a
potential federal prosecution. We're not even there yet,"
William Gately of the Survivors Network of those Abused by
Priests, said that even if Sullivan ultimately decides not
to file charges, what is most important to him is knowing
that every option has been pursued.
"It's a moral imperative that we do everything we can
to find out if there is a law that has been broken that could
lead to a prosecution or an indictment," Gately said.