- BOSTON - Under
pressure from the Massachusetts attorney general, the Boston Archdiocese
on Friday agreed to turn over to prosecutors the names of alleged victims
of priest abuse and details of the reported assaults.
- In the past month, Roman Catholic leaders had turned
over the names of 80 priests in the archdiocese suspected of sexually abusing
children in the past four decades. But it did not include details such
as dates, locations or the alleged victims' names. Prosecutors complained
they could not investigate without those details.
- State Attorney General Thomas Reilly announced the changes
Friday after a meeting with lawyers for the archdiocese and district attorneys
from Suffolk, Middlesex, Plymouth, Essex and Norfolk counties.
- "What we have to deal with at this point and what
my colleagues have to deal with are decades of unreported crimes against
children," Reilly said.
- Church officials had maintained they were bound in many
cases by confidentiality agreements in civil settlements with victims.
Prosecutors say those agreements are void if their effect is to hide a
- In the cases with confidentiality agreements, investigators
will be provided with the names of the alleged victims' lawyers. And the
archdiocese agreed to free any victims from the confidentiality agreements
so they may talk about their cases with investigators if they wish.
- Church lawyers left the meeting at the attorney general's
office without speaking to reporters.
- Reilly had summoned the lawyers to his office to address
concerns about what he called the lack of prompt disclosure of all information
regarding sex abuse of children. He reportedly had threatened a grand jury
investigation if the archdiocese did not comply.
- In the past several weeks Cardinal Bernard Law has given
prosecutors the names of 80 priests suspected of molesting children and
suspended 10 active priests after announcing the new zero-tolerance policy
- The new policy came after reports that the archdiocese
had simply shuttled now defrocked priest and convicted pedophile John Geoghan
between parishes despite allegations against him.
- Geoghan is serving a nine-to-10-year prison sentence
for fondling a 10-year-old boy, and faces two more criminal trials and
- Meanwhile, one of the priests suspended in the scandal,
the Rev. D. George Spagnolia of Lowell, admitted that he lied to The
Boston Globe when he said he remained celibate while on a nearly 20-year
leave from the priesthood. He said Friday that in fact, he had had two
- He acknowledged that the admission, first reported in
the Globe on Friday, could damage his credibility. But he maintained
- "Being gay doesn't mean you're a pedophile. ...
I have had gay relationships, but I have never harmed a child," he
- Spagnolia, 64, was the first priest to fight his suspension
under the archdiocese's zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse. He was accused
of sexual misconduct involving a 14-year-old boy in 1971 while he was at
St. Francis de Sales Church in Boston.
- Spagnolia took a leave of absence in 1973 and returned
to priestly duties in 1991.