Church settlement rejection may lead to more litigation

Sunday, May 5, 2002

BOSTON -- Attorneys promised renewed legal action against the Archdiocese of Boston on Saturday after the church backed out of a multimillion-dollar settlement with alleged victims of a pedophile priest.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who negotiated the $15 million to $30 million settlement for 86 clients, said he will ask a judge Monday to approve the swift deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law, which was delayed when the settlement was agreed to in March. He said he also would ask the judge to restrain Law from leaving the country.

Garabedian said he is considering suing the church for breach of contract.

"We're back on track. We're going to try these cases," Garabedian said Saturday. "I'm going to make the public aware of how much decay there is in this church."

The archdiocese had no comment Saturday; Law was expected to preside at Mass today as scheduled.

The archdiocese outraged alleged victims of abuse Friday by rejecting the 2-month-old settlement agreement that would have distributed up to $30 million to alleged victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan.

The Finance Council, a council of lay business people which must review any archdiocese expenditure of more than $1 million, said the agreement would cause grave financial damage and inhibit the church's ability "to provide a just and proportional response to other victims."

Law had encouraged the Finance Council to endorse the settlement, according to a spokeswoman.

The archdiocese has already paid an estimated $15 million to 40 alleged Geoghan victims since the mid-1990s and faces dozens more claims and hundreds of new allegations against him and other priests.

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