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Spotlight Report

Law adds top specialists to abuse prevention panel

8 women now part of effort to end abuse, aid healing

By Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff, 3/8/2002

Cardinal Bernard F. Law yesterday named some of the nation's chief authorities on how to prevent child sexual abuse to a panel that will direct the Boston archdiocese's response to clergy misconduct, adding eight women to the formerly all-male commission, including a prosecutor and a college president.

''What the church has tried to do is to handle this internally,'' said Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley, a new panel member.

''They've tried to be both judge and children protection agency and they haven't been able to do it successfully. That needs to change.''

The new members of the Cardinal's Commission for the Protection of Children were recruited by the state's leading medical school deans. The 15-member panel will meet March 16 to begin critiquing current archdiocesan policies, examining the feasibility of a new center to study the sexual abuse of children, and recommending ways to improve the church's outreach to victims and their families.

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said he hopes the commission members can begin to help ease the pain among victims of child abuse.

''These are people I respect and I think they are the kind of dispassionate voices who are really going to call it like it is,'' he said. ''I wouldn't have agreed to sign on if I thought it was going to be just window dressing.''

Besides Coakley and Finkelhor, the new commissioners are Suzin Bartley, executive director of the Children's Trust; Maureen Bateman, executive vice president and general counsel of State Street Corporation; Dr. Fred Berlin, founder and director of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma; Ann Burgess, a Boston College School of Nursing professor who has led national efforts to assess and treat victims of trauma and abuse; Dr. Mary Jane England, a child psychiatrist and the president of Regis College; Sara McLeod, a staff psychologist at the Children and the Law Program at Massachusetts General Hospital; Catalina Montes, principal of the Thomas Gardner Extended Services School in Allston, and Dr. Donna M. Norris, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School and a child, adolescent, and forensic psychiatrist.

''Over the course of the last several months, I've had some very personal and candid conversations with the cardinal as one of his advisers and as a father,'' said Dr. Michael F. Collins, president and chief executive officer of Caritas Christi Health Care Systems, the archdiocesan hospital network. ''I'm convinced of his resolve to bring together a group of people who can create an environment which is safe for children.''

The new members join previously announced commissioners. They are Dr. Edwin H. Cassem, a Jesuit priest and former chief of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. Aram V. Chobanian, dean and provost of Boston University School of Medicine; Alberto Godenzi, dean of Boston College Graduate School of Social Work; Dr. John T. Harrington, dean of Tufts University School of Medicine, and Dr. Aaron Lazare, chancellor and dean of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

This story ran on page A30 of the Boston Globe on 3/8/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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