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Spotlight Report

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BEACON HILL

Swift signs bill on clergy

By Chris Tangney, Globe Correspondent, 5/4/2002

Acting Governor Jane Swift yesterday signed a bill requiring clergy members to report suspected cases of child abuse, a measure that child advocates had sought for several years but took on new urgency this year after revelations that priests accused of abuse were allowed to remain in ministry in the Boston archdiocese.

Swift said the law reflects the government's responsibility to protect children and lamented the fact that there are many victims for whom it can offer little or no consolation except the knowledge that children today are safer than they were yesterday.

''Hopefully, this legislation will help to prevent this tragedy from happening to others,'' said Swift. ''Our responsibility and our loyalty are to our children above all else.''

The bill signing took place on the day that the Rev. Paul R. Shanley waived extradition from California to face child rape charges in Newton, paving the way for his return to Massachusetts to face the first local criminal charges since the crisis was exposed in January.

Attending the signing was Robert Curley, whose 10-year-old son, Matthew, was sexually assaulted and murdered in 1997, and Patrick McSorley, an alleged victim of sexual abuse by a priest.

The penalty for not reporting suspected abuse is a $1,000 fine, but Swift and Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said that the punishment for not reporting is less significant than the duty imposed.

''The message is most important,'' said Reilly.

This story ran on page A10 of the Boston Globe on 5/4/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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