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Judge denies delay for church papers

By Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff, 1/19/2002

 Related stories
Geoghan found guilty of sex abuse
Next trial set for February
Judge denies delay on papers
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney yesterday denied a request by the Archdiocese of Boston for a two-week delay to her order that thousands of pages of documents about former priest John J. Geoghan be made public on Friday.

Sweeney, who is presiding over about 90 civil lawsuits against Geoghan and the archdiocese, noted that she made it clear when she issued her order Nov. 20 that there is a "public interest" in having the documents made public.

"We are not going to delay any longer in making them public," Sweeney told Wilson Rogers III, one of the lawyers representing the archdiocese.

The documents, which are so voluminous that Sweeney said they will be scanned and made available on computer disks, include previously secret archdiocesan documents and deposition transcripts of church officials about the extent of the church's knowledge about Geoghan's long history of sexual molestation.

Sweeney said that based on estimates by lawyers in the case, there may be between 10,000 and 20,000 pages of documents filed.

Cardinal Bernard F. Law and five biships are defendants in many of the suits that accuse them of negligence for allowing Geoghan to continue as a parish priest even though they knew he had a history of sex abuse.

The documents had been under a confidentiality order granted to the archdiocese in 2000 by a previous judge. But acting on a motion from The Boston Globe, Sweeney reversed that order. Last month, a state Appeals Court judge denied an appeal by the archdiocese.

After the motion for delay was denied, Rogers argued that his law firm had not had an opportunity to assess whether it needed to seek an order protecting some people named in the documents.

Sweeney cut him off. "I am not going to engage in discussion with you. The order is my order. The order was issued in November. It is nearing the end of January. . . . I expect my order to be complied with," she said.

This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 1/19/2002.
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