The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Mediators ask court to block depositions

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff, 7/9/2002

Two mediators who helped the Archdiocese of Boston and 86 alleged victims of pedophile priest John J. Geoghan reach a short-lived settlement last spring are asking a state Appeals Court judge to call off their depositions, scheduled for tomorrow.

Geoffrey A. Domenico, the lawyer for the mediators, filed the emergency motion late yesterday afternoon, arguing that state law protecting the confidentiality of mediations prohibits Paul A. Finn and Sarah E. Worley from answering questions about their role in the negotiations.

He urged the court to reverse a judge who had ordered the mediators to answer questions under oath from lawyers representing the alleged victims of Geoghan, who was convicted in January of molesting a boy. The plaintiffs contend that the $15 million-to-$30 million settlement with the archdiocese was binding and should be enforced.

Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney has allowed the lawyers for the plaintiffs to proceed slowly with the depositions, limiting their questions. For now, she has ruled, the lawyers, Mitchell Garabedian and William H. Gordon, may ask only whether the mediators were given permission by the archdiocese to speak about the settlement with a reporter from the Brockton Enterprise.

In March the paper published a story about the mediators' role in the agreement, which was rescinded in May when church officials said they couldn't meet its terms and pay other alleged victims of pedophile priests. But Sweeney has not yet ruled whether the mediators can be forced to answer a question crucial to the plaintiffs' case: Was a settlement agreement reached?

Domenico argues that Sweeney erred in allowing the deposition to go forward at all, on grounds that conversations between the mediators and lawyers for the archdiocese are confidential. When Finn and Worley spoke to the Brockton reporter, he argues, the mediation was still ongoing.

Domenico declined to comment on his motion. But Garabedian argued that Sweeney's decision was correct.

''Given the statements made to the Brockton Enterprise by the mediators, with the permission of the parties, and given the public statements that there was a settlement, as made by some of the defendants, I believe the plaintiffs have the right to conduct the limited depositions of the mediators as allowed by Judge Sweeney,'' he said.

Kathleen Burge can be reached at

This story ran on page A18 of the Boston Globe on 7/9/2002.
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