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Spotlight Report

Not guilty is plea in Mass incident

By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff, 3/6/2002

A Danvers man who strode up to the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday just as Cardinal Bernard Law was about to give his homily pleaded not guilty yesterday in Boston Municipal Court to charges of disturbing the peace and disrupting a religious service.

Steven Lynch, 42, was arrested on Sunday by two plainsclothes police officers after he confronted Law and told him, ''I'm standing before you, Cardinal, and I'm taking my power back that your church stole from me.''

Lynch, who says he was abused by his parish priest as a child, has been an active protester since the Archdiocese of Boston came under fire in recent months for hiding sex abuse by priests. The Globe has found no evidence to corroborate Lynch's claims.

In January, Lynch waited outside the Boston Park Plaza Hotel to exchange words with Law when hundreds of priests met there as the sex abuse scandal unfolded. Last week, Lynch camped out in front of the cardinal's residence with a plywood sign bearing the name of the priest he accuses. Lynch has spent many Sundays protesting outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, but he has never entered the church to protest until last Sunday.

At his brief arraignment yesterday, a teary-eyed, agitated Lynch looked bewildered as court officials read out the charges and assigned him John Russell as a defense attorney.

Prosecutor Gerald Stewart issued a bail warning to remind Lynch that he would lose his $500 bail and face 60 days in jail if he gets into more trouble before April 2, the date of his next hearing.

''We believe that it is implicit in that bail warning that he is not to harass Cardinal Law or any church official,'' said David Procopio, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.

The story of Lynch's difficult-to-prove claims appeared on the front page of the Globe the morning he confronted Law in church, but Lynch said yesterday the attention did not influence him.

''It's three years of not being heard,'' Lynch said, alluding to the three years he has spent since he allegedly recovered the memory of his alleged abuse. ''I have to stand up for myself. ... Even just getting the money to stay in therapy is like fighting a war.''

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