The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Judge asked to consolidate abuse cases

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff, 5/25/2002

Three lawyers for victims of clergy sexual abuse yesterday asked Superior Court Chief Justice Suzanne DelVecchio to consolidate the pretrial proceedings of all clergy sexual abuse lawsuits filed against Cardinal Bernard F. Law and the Boston Archdiocese.

But another lawyer representing 86 victims of former priest and convicted pedophile John J. Geoghan said he will oppose the request because it could interfere with his effort to have a $15 million to $30 million settlement agreement enforced.

''The 86 Geoghan victims have a unique issue in that they intend to have a hearing relative to enforcement of the settlement agreement, and I intend to oppose the motion,'' said attorney Mitchell Garabedian.

The three lawyers asking for consolidation - Roderick MacLeish Jr., Jeffrey A. Newman, and Carmen L. Durso - made their request in a formal motion, saying that management of the lawsuits by a single judge would reduce costs and ensure that all the cases are conducted under the same legal rulings on a range of issues.

Approximately 500 people claiming that they were sexually abused by priests have hired Boston area attorneys since the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in January, according to interviews with lawyers.

MacLeish said the motion to consolidate pretrial proceedings is not intended to undermine Garabedian's effort to win enforcement of the Geoghan settlement agreement. The archdiocese announced the agreement March 12 but reneged this month, saying the agreement would leave the church without enough money to pay additional alleged victims and continue operating.

''We hope the archdiocese honors its commitment to Mitchell's clients but at the same time we want to make sure that cases are processed as quickly and efficiently as possible,'' MacLeish said.

The three lawyers filed their motion one day after an attorney representing two priests in sexual abuse lawsuits delivered a letter to DelVecchio with a similar request.

But the attorney, Timothy P. O'Neill, made reference in his letter to restrictions on public access to pretrial discovery materials that MacLeish and the other two lawyers found objectionable.

''His comments concerning the media are an obvious effort to obtain a blanket gag order on these matters,'' Newman said.

O'Neill on Thursday also filed a motion in Suffolk Superior Court seeking to prevent the public release of documents turned over by the archdiocese in civil lawsuits against the Rev. Jon C. Martin, the former pastor of a Middleton church where convicted pedophile Christopher Reardon was employed as a youth worker.

Michael Rezendes can be reached at rezendes@globe.comStephen Kurkjian of the Globe Staff contributed to this story.

This story ran on page A7 of the Boston Globe on 5/25/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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