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Spotlight Report

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Worcester bishop to cooperate

By Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff, 3/13/2002

The bishop of Worcester yesterday pledged full cooperation to local authorities who are investigating allegations of clergy sexual abuse in central Massachusetts.

Bishop Daniel P. Reilly said he will deliver "any pertinent information" to Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte. A spokesman for Reilly said Conte will receive the names of priests accused of sexual abuse and the identity of their alleged victims. "They're turning over everything and letting the DA review it," said Raymond L. Delisle, a diocesan spokesman. "Whatever he needs, he'll have."

Conte had recently expressed concern that the Worcester diocese was not fully cooperating in the investigation. Conte did not return telephone calls seeking comment yesterday.

"Our first and foremost concern in cooperating with the district attorney is for the victims of child sexual abuse," Reilly said in a prepared statement.

Delisle said Conte will "shortly" receive the information about allegations of all present and past sexual abuse by clergy or diocesan workers and volunteers.

Daniel J. Shea, a Houston attorney who represents three victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Worcester Diocese, said he had not yet reviewed the agreement between Reilly and Conte.

But Shea, whose clients have signed confidentiality agreements as part of their settlements with the diocese, said he has already advised them that they are not bound to secrecy.

"This is long overdue," Shea said of yesterday's announcement. "But the district attorney should not be reaching agreements with bishops; he should be subpoenaing these bishops."

Delisle said there have been "10 or 11" reported cases of clergy sexual abuse in the diocese over the past several years. "There may have been more than that, allegations that may not have gone anywhere," he said.

Early this month, Reilly ordered all clergy, church employees, and church volunteers to begin reporting to the state any allegations of sexual abuse of children. He said he would hold mandatory training sessions on how to spot and report warning signs indicating that children were being sexually abused.

This story ran on page A25 of the Boston Globe on 3/13/2002.
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