Judge bars release of transcript of Law's deposition

Saturday, May 11, 2002

BOSTON -- Acting at the request of the Boston Archdiocese, a judge Friday blocked for up to 30 days the release of further transcripts of Cardinal Bernard Law's questioning in the church sex scandal.

The cardinal is being questioned under oath by attorneys in a lawsuit brought by 86 alleged victims of child-molesting priest John Geoghan. The plaintiffs accuse Law and the archdiocese of failing to protect youngsters.

Law's deposition began Wednesday, and first-day transcripts were released the same day by the plaintiffs' side. But the archdiocese on Friday asked Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney to stop the practice and give the cardinal time to review further transcripts first, and she agreed to do so.

Sweeney ruled that once the deposition has been completed -- perhaps as early as Monday -- Law will have 30 days to review the transcript. After that, the transcript can be released.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said Law was unhappy with media coverage and that the plaintiffs' attorneys "wanted to control how much spin was out there in the media."

Standard procedure

Plaintiffs' attorney Mitchell Garabedian said he was disappointed by the ruling but called the practice outlined by the judge "standard operating procedure in my business."

The deposition marks the second time Law has answered questions under oath about Geoghan, who is accused of molesting more than 130 youngsters over three decades. Geoghan was convicted in January of groping a boy in a swimming pool and is serving nine to 10 years in prison.

Law and other church officials are accused of negligence for allegedly ignoring warning signs that Geoghan was a danger to children and doing little more than move him from parish to parish.

Law answered more questions Friday about his oversight of the diocese and the breakdown last week of a settlement worth up to $30 million with the 86 alleged victims, said plaintiffs' attorney Michael O'Donnell.

Attending Law's deposition session was Patrick McSorley, an alleged victim of Geoghan's. He said Law had offered his hand as the session began, but McSorley declined to shake it.

"I couldn't shake the man's hand because I knew what was about to come was a lie," McSorley said.

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