The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Victims praise Reilly report, but want secular oversight

By C. Kalimah Redd, Globe Correspondent, 7/25/2003

While praising the efforts of Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and the 76-page report detailing the rampant sexual abuse of children by clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston, victims' groups say more should be done to hold church officials accountable.

Members of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors who had a closed-door meeting yesterday morning with Reilly, pledged to push for an independent oversight board to review allegations against priests and for new laws that would allow for the criminal prosecution of church officials who shielded priest at the expense of children.

Reilly's 16-month investigation found 789 documented complaints of sexual abuse against 237 priests between 1940 and 2000, but said that information from other sources suggested that more than 1,000 people were abused by clergymen and church workers.

About a half dozen survivors held a press conference after meeting with Reilly for an hour. Susan Gallagher, a member of the coalition, described the meeting as focused, but not antagonistic.

Gallagher said the report is a first step in establishing an independent oversight review board under the incoming archbishop, Sean P. O'Malley.

''We will take this to O'Malley and say, `This is what the AG says' and force him to accept secular supervision,'' Gallagher said.

Gallagher also said that Reilly encouraged close communication with his office and did not rule out the possibility of prosecutions in the future.

Still, some members of the group continued to express dissatisfaction with the attorney general's report, saying it had little impact.

Mary Ryan, a survivor who came from Rhode Island for the meeting, said, ''It's positive for the survivors for the AG to write the report at least, but the report is useless and is very dissatisfying.''

Bill Gately, co-coordinator of the New England chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, also expressed disappointment that more was not done to hold church officials responsible.

He said he does not plan to attend the installation ceremony next week for O'Malley because he has little to celebrate as a survivor.

This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 7/25/2003.
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