Back to homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online BostonWorks Real Estate Sports digitalMass Travel The Boston Globe Spotlight Investigation Abuse in the Catholic Church
HomePredator priestsScandal and coverupThe victimsThe financial costOpinion
Cardinal Law and the laityThe church's responseThe clergyInvestigations and lawsuits
Interactive2002 scandal overviewParish mapExtrasArchivesDocumentsAbout this site
2014 update

Crux, a Catholic news site

A new site from the Boston Globe includes news updates on clergy abuse and other Catholic issues.
 Latest coverage

March 11
Victims' lawyer to sue Dupre

March 6
Suit accuses insurer of fraud

March 5
Charges against bishop eyed

March 1
Activists seek sex abuse panel

February 26
Alleged victim to aid probe

February 13
Springfield probe is sought

January 7, 2004
Agents faced reluctant aides

December 3
Church settles with victim

November 15
Settlement fuels money advice

November 12
Claims set aside until 2004

October 30
Hard line set on abuse trials

October 21
Most plaintiffs accept deal

October 19
Therapy sought in abuse suit

October 17
Lawyer says settlement near

October 8
Victims agonize over deal

September 12
Victims seen taking settlement

September 11
Church deal a boon for lawyers

September 10
Church in $85 million accord
Archdiocese facing new strains
Most plaintiffs to accept deal
O'Malley makes an appeal

September 9
Negotiations resume in cases

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Easy-print versionEasy-print

DAs push bill on child abuse

Passage expected of law requiring clergy disclosure

By John Ellement, Globe Staff, 4/6/2002

DANVERS -- Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and several district attorneys yesterday urged quick passage of legislation mandating that members of the clergy report suspected child abuse to civil authorities. A key state senator later said the bill could soon become law.

A major hurdle to the bill's passage was eliminated this week when Essex District Attorney Kevin Burke dropped an amendment requiring social workers to testify about what criminal defendants tell them about specific acts of child abuse. Currently, social workers are exempted by state law from disclosing what they hear from clients.

When questioned yesterday about his previous support of the amendment, Burke said he was surprised to learn the social worker proposal was still an issue between Senate and House committees negotiating the measure's final language. "I thought we had an agreement," he said.

Senator Cheryl Jacques, the bill's chief Senate sponsor, in a telephone interview welcomed word of Burke's decision. "I'm actually thrilled to hear that," she said. Jacques blocked Senate action on the clergy reporting bill until the Burke amendment, which was in an earlier House version, was eliminated.

Jacques said legislative negotiators are close to settling other disagreements. Compromise language protecting the sanctity of the Catholic confession and similar sacred conversations is being reviewed.

Another stumbling block -- whether the measure should be retroactive -- also appears to be close to a resolution, Jacques said. That plan requires any priest, rabbi, or minister who has knowledge of an adult who was abused as a child to report that information to police. Clergy who know of a child who has been abused must notify the Department of Social Services, Jacques said.

Representative Antonio Cabral, the chief House sponsor, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Reilly said that, once enacted, the law will close a "tremendous gap," which allowed the Archdiocese of Boston to keep silent after it was notified of pedophile priests in its parishes. Since the 1980s, social workers, police, and teachers have been required to report instances of child abuse, but those laws exempted the clergy.

"Children come first. That's our focus, that's our goal, that's our objective," Reilly said. "We can't waste a day. We have to make sure we are doing everything possible to make sure children are protected."

This story ran on page E4 of the Boston Globe on 4/6/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy