not recommending criminal charges in church scandal
By Mark Pratt, Associated Press, 7/20/2003
BOSTON (AP) No criminal charges will be filed against top
church officials in the Archdiocese of Boston's clergy sex
abuse scandal, a spokesman for the state attorney general's
office said Sunday.
Attorney General Thomas Reilly's report, based in part on
a 16-month investigation by the state grand jury he convened,
documents what happened in the archdiocese and suggests needed
changes to prevent future abuse, according to WBZ-TV Channel
4, which cited an unidentified source who has reviewed the
The attorney general's office would not release the document
on Sunday, but confirmed the accuracy of the television report.
''The attorney general has completed a comprehensive 16-month
investigation of the Archdiocese of Boston and the report
will be released sometime this week,'' Reilly spokesman Corey
Welford told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney for more than 100 alleged
abuse victims, said he had not seen the attorney general's
report but expressed disappointment that there would be no
''Given the number of tragedies that have occurred by these
sexual molestations and the allowance of these sexual molestations,
many of my clients were hoping that there would be indictments
so church leaders and individuals would be held responsible,''
Gary Bergeron, 41, one of 54 men who say they were abused
by the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham, never expected top church
officials to be charged.
''I am not surprised there are no indictments because of
the way the laws were written,'' Bergeron said. ''But it's
unfortunate that, for all intents and purposes, men who agreed
to sanction the abuse of children throughout the years cannot
Archdiocese spokesman Rev. Christopher Coyne said he could
not comment until the report was made public.
The grand jury investigated whether the former Boston archbishop,
Cardinal Bernard Law, and some of his top aides, many of whom
are now bishops in other dioceses, could be held criminally
responsible for moving priests from parish to parish even
when they knew of abuse allegations.
Reilly said publicly in April that it would be difficult
to indict church supervisors for allowing abusive priests
to remain in parish work because of weak child protection
laws in Massachusetts that were in place when the abuse took
place. Reilly came to the same conclusion after the grand
jury investigation, according to the report.
Law resigned as archbishop in December, after nearly a year
of criticism over his role in allowing abusive priests to
remain in parish work. Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley was named
July 1 as his successor. Bishop Richard Lennon has served
as interim head of the archdiocese since Law's resignation.
In addition to Law, at least eight other top officials in
the Boston Archdiocese were subpoenaed to answer questions
about their handling of complaints against priests, including
the Rev. Thomas Daily, now bishop in Brooklyn, N.Y.; the Rev.
Robert J. Banks, now bishop in Green Bay, Wis.; and the Rev.
John McCormack, now bishop in Manchester, N.H.
The attorney general's report also suggested ways to prevent
future abuse, including increasing penalties for failure to
report suspected abuse and ways for the church and laity can
work closer together to prevent abuse.
The archdiocese has instituted its own abuse policies, which
Reilly has criticized as not tough enough.
The archdiocese is facing about 500 civil suits from alleged
victims of clergy sex abuse. Church officials have repeatedly
said they remain committed to working toward an out of court