Boston Church Officials to Escape Criminal Charges

Concluding an extensive 16-month investigation of the embattled Archdiocese of Boston, the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly revealed this week that criminal charges would not be filed against Cardinal Bernard Law and other church officials for failing to protect children from sexually abusive priests. Reilly spokesperson Corey Welford said the comprehensive report, detailing recommendations to prevent future abuse, will be released later this week. Bishop Sean Patrick O’Malley is set to replace interim leader of the Boston Archdiocese Bishop Richard Lennon on July 30.

Victim advocates expressed disappointment, but not surprise with the finding. Gary Bergeron, who was allegedly abused by the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham told the Associated Press, “I am not surprised there are no indictments because of the way the laws were written… But it’s unfortunate that, for all intents and purposes, men who agreed to sanction the abuse of children throughout the years cannot be indicted.” Despite existing state laws which require professionals in social work, medicine, and education to report suspected child abuse, the Massachusetts Legislature only last year passed a child endangerment law including members of clergy, reported the Boston Globe.

Earlier this year, church officials at the Diocese of Manchester in New Hampshire and the Long Island Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York also escaped criminal indictment.

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NY Times 7/21/03; Associated Press 7/21/03; Reuters 7/21/03; Boston Globe 7/21/03; Feminist Daily News Wire

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