The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Personal records barred in church abuse case

By Ralph Ranalli, Globe Staff, 5/8/2003

A state Superior Court judge has rejected as ''intrusive'' a motion by the Archdiocese of Boston to obtain the medical, psychological, and employment records of Paula and Rodney Ford, the parents of a Newton man who says he was sexually abused as a boy by the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, court documents show.

Lawyers for the archdiocese had sought the records as part of what many legal observers saw as a new and more aggressive approach to defending the Ford case. But Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney said the bid for the records was too broad and too speculative.

''The defendant asks the plaintiffs Paula and Rodney Ford to turn over their respective medical and psychological records covering their entire lifetimes,'' Sweeney wrote. ''Such an intrusive inquiry, which isn't encapsulated by any timeline but the plaintiffs' respective birth dates, is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.''

Rodney Ford said the ruling was welcome news after a ''disheartening'' few weeks during which lawyers for the archdiocese tried to shift the blame for the abuse of Gregory Ford from Shanley to others, including Rodney Ford.

Gregory Ford and his family came forward last year, saying he had repressed the memory of sexual abuse by Shanley until hearing about the priest in the media.

Lawyers for the church said recently that medical records suggested that Gregory Ford may have been molested by his father. The Fords and their lawyers denied the allegation and said there was no credible evidence in the medical records of any such abuse.

Roderick MacLeish, the attorney for the family, added that neither Rodney nor Paula Ford has ever received psychological counseling or therapy.

Archdiocese lawyers could not be reached for comment.

This story ran on page B8 of the Boston Globe on 5/8/2003.
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