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Cardinal Law faces more questioning

Plaintiffs' attorney: Law involved in moving two priests

Cardinal Bernard Law underwent a third round of questioning Wednesday in a civil suit in Boston.
Cardinal Bernard Law underwent a third round of questioning Wednesday in a civil suit in Boston.  

From Bill Delaney
CNN Boston Bureau Chief

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Cardinal Bernard Law faced new questioning Wednesday after documents released to plaintiffs in a civil suit showed he was personally involved in the transfer of two priests engaged in alleged sexual misconduct.

Wednesday's questioning came a day after a panel of United States Roman Catholic bishops released their draft recommendations for disciplining clergymen accused of sexually abusing children. (Read a report on the draft proposal to be considered at the upcoming bishops' conference in Dallas.)

Attorneys for the alleged victims of former priest Paul Shanley said documents turned over Tuesday under court order offer direct evidence that Law shuffled two other priests from place to place -- though he should have known they were accused of sexual molestation.

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Law testified in April that he normally turned over the handling of such cases to subordinates.

Rod Macleish, the attorney representing the family of one of Shanley's alleged victims, Gregory Ford, said he asked for records covering the careers of 10 priests in an attempt to show there was a pattern of negligent supervision.

That's the allegation Ford's family is making in a civil law suit against Law. Ford alleges he was molested by Shanley during the 1980s.

The records show that the Rev. Daniel Graham -- who was pulled from active ministry in February -- was promoted to pastor of St. Joseph Church in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1990, and to the 19-parish leadership of the Quincy vicarate in 1996 -- although Graham himself admitted to an incident of sexual misbehavior.

In a letter signed by Law in 1996, he wrote that because the sexual misconduct occurred before new church policy on such matters in 1993 toughened up the church's approach, that policy would not apply.

The 1993 policy excludes such priests from conduct with minors and severely limits their responsibilities.

The cardinal concluded: "These have been difficult days for you, Dan. You have been most cooperative in this process, and I thank you for that. You have been and continue to be remembered in my prayers. With warm personal regards, and asking God to bless you, I am .... "

In the case of another priest -- the Rev. Eugene O'Sullivan -- a memo written by Law indicates that the cardinal once planned a public explanation of why he transferred the priest to a parish in New Jersey in 1985 despite a 1984 rape conviction involving an altar boy.

Law said he would claim he knew nothing of the incident, which happened as he was arriving to take up his assignment in Boston. But a note written by current New Orleans Bishop Alfred Hughes -- who at that time was vicar of administration in Boston -- pointed out to Law that "there were previous reports."

Law has already answered questions from plaintiffs' attorneys in two previous sessions as part of the civil case brought by 86 plaintiffs, including alleged victims and their families.




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