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Spotlight Report

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Archdiocese will include prosecutors as advisers

By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff, 3/6/2002

The Archdiocese of Boston agreed yesterday in principle to a request from the attorney general's office to give a prosecutor an advisory role in the archdiocese's reform of its system for handling priests who sexually abuse children.

The agreement came after the issue was broached last Friday during a meeting between the archdiocese's lawyers, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and five district attorneys who complained that the archdiocese had refused to turn over the names of victims of some 90 priests so prosecutors could determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

In a letter sent to the archdiocese lawyers last Friday, Kurt N. Schwartz, the chief of Reilly's criminal bureau, said that in addition to turning over the names of victims and releasing victims from confidentiality agreements they had reached with the church, prosecutors wanted a say in the reforms that Cardinal Bernard F. Law had promised in response to the scandal.

''You have indicated that the Cardinal recently appointed a blue ribbon panel to review Church policies regarding `sexual misconduct.' At our meeting today, there was a shared recognition that in these circumstances, law enforcement has an important role to play in the development of comprehensive and effective procedures and guidelines on preventing sexual abuse,'' Schwartz wrote.

As of yesterday, the attorney general's office was still waiting for a response from the archdiocese. But in an interview last night, Donna M. Morrissey, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the church was willing to accomodate the attorney general's request for an advisory role.

''We are in complete agreement with the attorney general about the need for a law enforcement person on the panel and we're in the process of making that happen. We appreciate his recommendation in the matter,'' Morrissey said.

This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 3/6/2002.
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