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Poll: Boston Catholics Fault Cardinal

Feb. 8, 2002
By JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press

BOSTON - The Roman Catholic Church's Boston Archdiocese, complying with its promise to report past abuse accusations, revealed the names of six more priests who have been suspended amid charges they molested children.

The six were among at least 22 more accused priests whose names were forwarded to prosecutors Thursday. In all, the archdiocese has now turned over the names of at least 60 priests accused of sexually abusing children over the past 40 years. There are 930 priests in the archdiocese.

A Boston Globe-WBZ-TV poll released Friday found that most Catholics in the archdiocese believe Cardinal Bernard F. Law has done a poor job of dealing with the widening scandal.

The archdiocese was hit Thursday by two new lawsuits alleging the church knew of the abuse but failed to stop it.

A lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court accused the cardinal personally of failing to protect a 13-year-old boy from abuse by now-defrocked priest John Geoghan in 1989. In the suit, Christopher Fulchino, now 25 and living in Maine, alleged Law knew or should have known about the abuse and relied on "a veil of silence."

Geoghan, who was recently convicted of sexual abuse, faces 80 civil lawsuits and two more criminal cases. In all, 130 people claim he abused them. Last month, Law apologized for moving Geoghan to a church in Weston even though he knew of allegations of abuse against the priest.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court on behalf of four former altar boys accused the archdiocese of failing to protect them and accused the Rev. Paul Desilets of molesting them when he was assigned to Assumption Parish in Bellingham in the mid-1980s.

Earlier this week, two other former altar boys filed a separate lawsuit against Desilets, now 78, with similar allegations.

Bellingham police, who have been investigating the allegations against Desilets for the past two weeks, said they expect the number of people accusing him of abuse to reach as high as 20. Police have not yet interviewed Desilets, who lives in a nursing home in Quebec.

On Wednesday, Desilets told The Associated Press the charges against him in the first lawsuit were exaggerated.

The archdiocese is facing other lawsuits by people alleging abuse by Geoghan and by the victims of former church worker Christopher Reardon, who was sentenced to 40 to 50 years after pleading guilty last year to molesting 24 boys.

Last month, the archdiocese announced a new policy of reporting even past allegations of abuse by priests after documents in the Geoghan case showed at least some officials knew of the accusations.

The six priests suspended Thursday were the Rev. James F. Power, 71; the Rev. David C. Murphy, 65; the Rev. Robert A. Ward, 55; the Rev. Thomas P. Forry, 60; the Rev. Gerald J. Hickey, 64; and the Rev. Richard A. Buntel, 56.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests