Boston archdiocese pulls out of settlement

Saturday, May 4, 2002

BOSTON -- The Archdiocese of Boston on Friday backed out of a settlement agreement with 86 people who have accused now-defrocked priest John Geoghan of child molestation, saying the deal was too expensive as the list of potential victims grows.

The archdiocese's finance council rejected Cardinal Bernard Law's request to sign the deal, estimated to be worth $15 million to $30 million.

The council said the settlement would consume substantially all the archdiocese's resources "that can reasonably be made available and therefore, such an action would leave the archdiocese unable to provide a just and proportional response to other victims," according to David W. Smith, chancellor for the archdiocese.

Mitchell Garabedian, attorney for the alleged Geoghan victims, said he had been assured the settlement would go forward and that the finance committee had only an advisory role.

"This is a disgrace. Are these people inhuman?" said Garabedian, who called the decision "a revictimization of these poor souls."

The council recommended providing counseling for the victims and their families and creating "a non-litigious global assistance fund" for all victims to share. That pool of money would be divided based on the extent of the abuse suffered, and in an amount that would not cripple the archdiocese and its mission, the council said, according to Smith.

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