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Deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law
May 8, 2002, Suffolk County Superior Court

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Q. Your Eminence, you've been given an exhibit which has been marked Exhibit 228 and which appears to have two pages and two documents, the first of which appears to be a letter dated October 31, 1984 from the Archbishop's residence, the second of which appears to be a handwritten letter addressed to Father Oates with an apparent signature of Father John Geoghan. Would you please review Exhibit 228? And then I'll ask you 3 some questions. Have you reviewed it?

A. I have.

Q. Okay. And is the first document a letter from you dated October 31, 1984 informing Father Geoghan that he was appointed as parochial vicar at St. Julia's parish in Weston?

A. My presumption is yes.

Q. Other than the phone message that we saw at the back of Exhibit 226, do you know of any doctor's reports in the files of the Archdiocese that indicated it was now safe to send Father Geoghan back to parish assignment?

A. As I indicated earlier, my policy would have been that an assignment of this kind would be contingent upon a professional opinion that such an assignment would be appropriate. And so my presumption is that such an opinion is extent.

Q. We have been given the records from the Archdiocese, and I'm willing to look at it right now, but we don't have any document prior to this date that says Father Geoghan was safe to send back to parish duty. Are you aware of any?

MR. ROGERS, III: Well, I'd object to that characterization.

MR. GORDON: Well, produce it.

MR. ROGERS, III: You've got it, you've used it.

MR. GORDON: Which one?

MR. ROGERS, III: You have letters from Dr. Brennan and letters from --

MR. GORDON: What dates? Not before October 31, 1984.

MR. ROGERS, III: Sure you do.

MR. GORDON: No, not between the date of the report and this date.

MR. ROGERS, III: You've got letters prior to October 31, 1984.

MR. GORDON: Oh sure, 1981. But any since the report of September -- let me rephrase the question. I understand your issue now.

MR. ROGERS, III: Go ahead. That's an unfair characterization. The report is before October 31 of 1984.

MR. GORDON: Let me narrow it.

MR. ROGERS, III: Go ahead.


Q. Are you aware of any documents from any doctor between the date of Marge Gallant's letter of September 6, 1984 and October 31, 1984 indicating it was safe to send Father Geoghan back to parish assignment?

A. If I may respond --

Q. Yes.

A. What I am aware of is my expectation, and that expectation was understood by those who assisted me, it was no one could be assigned unless there were an attestation from someone professionally competent to give it that that person could be safely put in place. Now, am I -- I do not have recall about documents that are in the files going back 18 years, but I can assure you that this letter would not have been signed had there not been the assurance given by a medical person. I'm sure that that medical assurance was given. Whether it was subsequently put in writing and in an earlier form given orally, I cannot say, but I can say, without any shadow of a doubt, that this letter would never have been put before me for signature had we not had the assurance of someone competent to give that assurance that this assignment was safe.

MR. GORDON: All I'm asking for is if counsel has a letter prior to October 31, '84, after September 6 of 1984, I'm more than willing to look at it and ask questions about it and that will answer this particular question.

MR. ROGERS, III: We've produced it before.

MR. GORDON: We've not been able to locate it.

MR. ROGERS, III: You've used it before in deposition.

MR. GORDON: Tell me the date.

MR. ROGERS, III: October 20, 1984, but this is your deposition, you conduct it the way you see fit. We have produced such documents.


MR TODD: There's also an allusion to this letter in this phone message.


MR TODD: A reference to it, excuse me.

MR. GORDON: You're saying, what deposition did we use it, if you're saying we used it?

MR. ROGERS, III: I'm sorry?

MR. GORDON: What's the exhibit number?

MR. ROGERS, III: I don't have the exhibit number in front of me. This is your deposition. You've used it.

MR. GORDON: I understand it. If you're saying we used it, fine.

THE WITNESS: You need a chron. file.

MR. GORDON: We thought we had one. The only thing I'm finding, and I'll show this to the Cardinal, Father Flatley's chronology, which is Exhibit 99, and you can look at the entries between 9/6/82 and 9/18/84 and 11/84. There is no entry in Father Flatley's chronology that indicates a letter. If you're saying there's one, I don't have a problem, but you haven't referenced an exhibit number, there are over 226 exhibits, and we did not find it readily available in the file. It's possible. All I'm saying is why don't you just give it to us?

MR. ROGERS: Well, I have notes here, but I'm telling you this is your deposition you're asking the Cardinal what he knows, what he remembers, and that's --


MR. ROGERS: Seems to me that's the --

MR. GARABEDIAN: You don't have a copy of the letter?

MR. ROGERS: I'm sure I have a copy of the letter, but I don't have it here. I have notes, my own notes indicate there is such a letter and that you've used it, but -- that's.

MR. GORDON: You know, there is.

MR. ROGERS: But that's not the issue in terms of the question to the Cardinal. The question to the Cardinal is what does he remember, what does he know, and he's answered that.

MR. GORDON: And right now the Cardinal doesn't know whether or not there was a letter.

Q. Is that correct, Cardinal Law?

A. Excuse me?

Q. Do you know if there was a letter from a doctor between the time Father Geoghan's assignment as St. Brendan's was terminated and the time his assignment at St. Julia's was made?

A. What I said is there was no way in which this letter would have been prepared for my signature without there having been a prior attestation by someone professionally competent to give it that such an assignment was appropriate given the pathology of John Geoghan. Now, whether that was a letter already in hand, in written form at that point, or whether that was a matter of consultation personally or by phone, I cannot respond to that. But I do see --

Q. You're looking at Father Flatley's chronology?

A. That's right.

Q. And you're referring to the 12/11 --

A. That's correct.

Q. -- entry?

A. That's correct.

Q. That's December 11. What's the date of your assignment of Father Geoghan?

A. September 18.

Q. That's his termination. But isn't October 31 the date you reassigned him in Exhibit 228?

A. That's correct.

Q. And that's before that entry for Dr. Mullins?

A. That's before this entry, that's correct.

Q. Yes, yes.

A. But what I'm saying --

Q. You believe there is a letter.

MR. GORDON: And, counsel, you're representing you believe there is a letter?

MR. ROGERS, III: We'll get you another clean copy of it.

MR. GORDON: All right. I don't want to create, we don't need to create a bad record. I don't want do that. I really don't, and so if you can --

MR. ROGERS, III: We'll secure you another copy, but I can assure you you have a copy, and my recollection is it's been published in the papers, the newspaper.

MR. MURPHY: I was going to say, the folks in the hall might have it.

MR. ROGERS, III: This is not a letter that hasn't been produced. We'll get it for you, October --

MR TODD: October.

MR. ROGERS: October 20, 1984.

MR. GORDON: Okay, okay. All right.

Q. Did you have your policies about attestation before a priest could go back on assignment in writing at that time?

A. No. I put the -- our policy went in in written form in 1993, but those persons working with me prior to 1993 were well aware, were well aware that that was the way in which such a case should be handled, and I'm sure they could attest to that fact. Do you want all these things just kept here in a pile?

MR. GORDON: Yes, why don't we have, why don't we have Exhibit 229 -- I see the problem. I found it attached to another document that has a later date on the cover page.


MR. GORDON: I just want the record clean.

MR. ROGERS: That's fine.

MR. GORDON: Can we have that marked as Exhibit 229?

(Document marked as Exhibit 229 for identification.)

(Document exhibited to witness.)

Q. Your Eminence, you've been given a copy of exhibit, or Exhibit 229 which appears to be a copy of two letters: One of which is a letter to the personnel office dated November, from the personnel office of the Archdiocese of Boston dated November 5, 1984, apparently to Dr. Robert Mullins, and signed by Father Thomas Oates, and the second page of which appears to be a handwritten letter, a letter from Dr. Mullins of October 20, 1984 to Father Oates. Now, unless I'm mistaken, this is it. This was the medical certification that I, that we've been able to obtain, I guess, that says Father Geoghan was fine to send back to the diocese, to parish ministry?

A. Without any need for specific restrictions.

MR TODD: Objection.

Q. Was there any standards you put in place for whom you would have evaluate priests with this kind of problem in 1984?

A. As you will recall, I came as Archbishop in March of '84, and as time went on there was a group of psychiatrists that we worked with on a routine basis. That was not in place at this time.

Q. Okay. At some time did Father Doyle talk to you about the problem of sexual abuse by priests of children, talk to you about that issue?

A. I recall, in a vague way, conversations with Father Doyle about the effectiveness of, of treatment centers. It seems to me that that was the general topic that we discussed relative to this problem of sexual abuse of priests.

Q. At some point were you chair of the conference of Bishops Committee on Research and Pastoral Practices?

A. I was.

Q. When were you chair of that committee?

A. I do not recall.

Q. Were you chair --

A. I'm sure --

Q. Were you chair of that committee around the time you became Archbishop of Boston or shortly thereafter?

A. Perhaps shortly thereafter.

Q. And what were the duties and responsibilities of the Research and Pastoral Practices Committee or Conference?

A. That was a committee that was sort of a catchall for things that didn't fit somewhere else, and it had sort of a wide ranging scope.

Q. Did Father Doyle ever talk to you about having an adjunct committee to that committee to address the problem of sexual molestation by priests?

A. I cannot recall that kind of a conversation. I do recall Father Doyle's interest in this, and we would meet on occasion at the Nunciature, and I shared a concern about the pathological nature of this illness, of this behavior and the need to deal with it as such.

Q. Was it after your discussions with Father Doyle that you decided you needed to have a team of psychiatrists working with these kinds of priests?

A. No. You know, it was not as a consequence of that. I think that my conviction about the need to proceed with, in this area in this way was, predated my conversations with Father Doyle.

Q. From what I can tell, those conversations at least what's been recorded by Father Doyle, were in 1985, the first half of 1985. So did you have a team, this team of psychiatrists in before then?

A. I can't say whether by then we had that or not. I, you know, I'd have to rely on discussing with others who were assisting me to say exactly when did we do that.

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