Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Law to be deposed in abuse lawsuit

The Associated Press

        BOSTON — A judge Monday ordered Cardinal Bernard Law to give a deposition on Wednesday in the civil litigation against John Geoghan, the now-defrocked priest accused of molesting scores of youngsters.

        Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney expressed concern that Cardinal Law might not be available to answer questions under oath unless the deposition were held soon.

        “His choice of whether he is available for deposition is not entirely belonging to him,” she said. “If the pope tells him to go to Rome, he goes.”

        Judge Sweeney ordered the deposition videotaped in a closed courtroom, so it could stand as testimony if Cardinal Law is not available for a trial. At that time, the tape could be made public. Otherwise, she ordered the deposition to remain confidential.

        She denied a request by the archdiocese for a seven-day notice before the deposition, and rejected a request by plaintiffs' attorney Mitchell Garabedian that Cardinal Law be required to post a $10 million bond if he leaves the state.

        Attorneys for the archdiocese declined to comment as they left the courtroom and did not say whether they would appeal.

        Before Judge Sweeney issued the order, archdiocese lawyer Wilson D. Rogers Jr. said the cardinal would be available for a deposition at any time or place.

        “He is fully committed to participating in a deposition, no matter if it takes one day or more,” Mr. Rogers said. “He will cooperate.”

        Mr. Garabedian said he was pleased with the ruling, and was eager to start questioning Law about Geoghan.

        “I want to know what he knew,” Mr. Garabedian said. “I want to know why in 1984 he did nothing to prevent John Geoghan from molesting more children.”

        Garabedian, who represents 86 alleged victims of Geoghan, was pressing on with the litigation after the archdiocese decided Friday to back out of a settlement in the case. The rejected deal would have paid plaintiffs between $15 million and $30 million.

        In rejecting the settlement, the archdiocese's Finance Council cited concern that there would not be enough money left for the growing number of other people alleging they were sexually abused by priests.

        Geoghan is serving a nine-to-10 year prison sentence for fondling a boy.


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