The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Geoghan judge's mediator ruling upheld

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff, 7/10/2002

Two mediators who negotiated a later-rescinded settlement between the Archdiocese of Boston and alleged sexual abuse victims of former priest John J. Geoghan will be questioned under oath today after a state Appeals Court judge refused to give them a last-minute reprieve.

Justice Joseph A. Grasso Jr. upheld a lower court decision to allow limited questioning of the mediators by attorneys representing 86 alleged victims of Geoghan. He ruled that Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney hadn't erred when she ordered the depositions, rejecting the mediators' claim that they were prohibited from revealing details of the settlement by a state law that protects the confidentiality of mediations.

But Sweeney is allowing lawyers for the alleged victims to question the mediators, Paul A. Finn and Sarah E. Worley, only about a narrow topic: whether the mediators were given permission by the archdiocese to speak publicly about the $15 million to $30 million settlement. The mediators spoke to a Brockton Enterprise reporter in March.

The lawyers for the alleged victims are deposing witnesses to gather information for a hearing later this month, when they will argue that the settlement was binding and should be enforced.

Finn and Worley, who decided not to appeal yesterday's ruling to a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, will abide by Sweeney's ruling and will answer questions today, said Geoffrey A. Domenico, their lawyer.

''We're not going to be in contempt of court,'' Domenico said. ''We don't have time to go forward with an appeal.''

Meanwhile, an attorney for two lawyers representing the archdiocese is asking Sweeney for some protection for his clients as they are deposed by Mitchell Garabedian and William H. Gordon, lawyers for the alleged victims.

J. Owen Todd, who is representing Wilson D. Rogers Jr. and Wilson D. Rogers III, filed motions yesterday asking Sweeney to protect them from testifying about anything that would breach confidentiality with their clients, or violate state law on the confidentiality of mediation. Rogers Jr. was deposed yesterday; Rogers III is slated to be deposed tomorrow. ''I just want to be clear that the attorneys shouldn't be in a position where they have to testify in violation of the statute and the [mediation] agreement,'' Todd said.

Kathleen Burge can be reached at ">

This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 7/10/2002.
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