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

October 25
Victims could now collect

October 2
Geoghan's sister hits guards

October 1
Geoghan's sister to speak

September 27
Conviction erasure protested
Druce is hospitalized again
Guard ad seeks understanding

September 24
Inquiry: Druce beaten as child

September 20
Druce pleads not guilty in slay
Geoghan claims guard assault

September 14
Report says Druce in a rage

September 13
Letter: Druce abused as a boy

September 12
Geoghan bore guards' abuse
Lawyer: Mail deluges accused

September 11
Expanded panel is sought

September 8
Druce is returned from hospital

September 5
Geoghan consultant ties eyed

September 4
Conflict raised on consultant

September 3
Bias concerns raised in probe

September 2
No new panel members seen

August 31
Geoghan panel to expand

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Settlement arguments offered

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff, 7/27/2002

Lawyers for 86 victims allegedly abused by a priest knew that the settlement agreement they had negotiated with the Archdiocese of Boston was risky because the church had not yet come up with the money, archdiocese lawyers are arguing on the eve of a mini-trial to determine whether the agreement still stands.

In court papers filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, they describe the negotiated agreement as the first step toward a final settlement, which would become official once the money was secured and everyone had signed it.

But lawyers for the alleged victims of former priest and convicted molester John J. Geoghan are accusing the archdiocese of fraud, saying the archdiocese publicly embraced the agreement and then abandoned it.

Offering a glimpse into the proceeding that begins Wednesday, lawyers on both sides yesterday submitted witness lists and summaries of their arguments to Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney. She will decide whether the $15 million to $30 million agreement is a binding contract.

Sweeney has hinted that she thought a settlement had been reached. And she has said the archdiocese cannot get out of the settlement agreement by invoking the vote not to fund it by Cardinal Bernard F. Law's handpicked finance council.

But the archdiocese's lawyers argued that only after the funding was arranged would Law and the other defendants sign the agreement and make it final.

''Cardinal Law was unable to secure the necessary approval for the [archdiocese] to fund the proposed settlement,'' the lawyers wrote. ''As a result, the majority of the defendants, none of whom had the financial wherewithal to fund even the smallest fraction of the amounts negotiated, did not sign.''

Even if Sweeney finds the agreement is binding, they say, its wording offers a way for the archdiocese to get out. If the archdiocese did not put money into an escrow fund to pay for the settlement, they say, the agreement says the settlements would collapse and the cases would return to court.

The lawyers also argue they did not have the final authority to settle the case on behalf of Law and the other defendants.

Lawyers for the victims say that Law and other church officials announced the settlement agreement and told Sweeney they had reached an agreement.

Signing the agreement, they argue, was only creating a ''polished'' version of the contract. And by walking away from the agreement, they say, the archdiocese committed fraud.

Kathleen Burge can be reached at

This story ran on page B6 of the Boston Globe on 7/27/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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