The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church

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Archdiocese motion granted in abuse suit

Church gets more time for discovery

By Wendy Davis, Globe Correspondent and Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff, 4/5/2003

A judge yesterday granted lawyers for the Archdiocese of Boston more time to explore whether a plaintiff was the victim of sexual abuse other than that alleged against the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, according to lawyers involved in the case.

At a hearing yesterday, Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney gave lawyers representing the church until May 23 to conduct further depositions in the civil lawsuit filed by Gregory Ford and his parents. Ford says he was sexually abused by Shanley as a youngster. Church lawyers hope to question under oath the Fords and therapists about Gregory Ford's history.

Ford's lawyer, Roderick MacLeish Jr., denied that any records in the case contain evidence that Ford had been sexually abused by anyone. If there had been any credible allegation of abuse, MacLeish said, therapists would have been required to report the alleged abuse to the state. No such reports were filed, MacLeish said.

Late yesterday, David G. Thomas, a lawyer with MacLeish, wrote a letter to Sweeney stating that their law firm intended to file an emergency motion emphasizing that all the medical records in the case are impounded and cannot be referenced in any memoranda filed in the case.

Ford and his family came forward last year, saying he had repressed the memory of sexual abuse by Shanley until he read a newspaper story about the priest. The Ford case has played heavily in the priest sexual abuse scandal; not only have Ford and his parents often talked publicly about the alleged abuse, but theirs was one of the first civil lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Boston scheduled to go to trial.

Now the trial might not start until the fall, according to Ian Crawford, a lawyer for Cardinal Bernard F. Law. Paula Ford, Gregory's mother, declined to comment.

Lawyers for the church say they recently received nearly 1,000 pages of documents, including Ford's medical and psychiatric records. Timothy P. O'Neill, a lawyer for the church, said the files concern ''critical issues on the credibility of the case.''

Church lawyers accused lawyers for the alleged victims yesterday of not turning over documents; they received some of the files as a result of their own subpoenas, they said.

Stephen Kurkjian of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 4/5/2003.
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