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Spotlight Report


Out of the crossfire

The Boston Archdiocese's former spokesperson reflects on the days of the sex-abuse scandal, which she says left her scarred -- but wiser.

By Mark Pothier, Globe Staff, 11/30/2003

You become regional director of corporate affairs for American Red Cross Blood Services in September, shortly after stepping down as the Archdiocese of Boston's chief spokeswoman. Because of the clergy sex-abuse scandal experience, were you skittish about being in public view again?

No. I was propelled into a heightened position of visibility because of the scandal, but the community was really supportive.

Could you separate your personal beliefs from positions you were paid to represent?

I always spoke the truth, and if a time had come that I wasn't able to do that, I would have left then.

What was your personal relationship with Cardinal Bernard Law?

It was like father-daughter. If he asked me a question I gave him and answer, whether I thought he wanted to hear it or not.

You've said that some nights you went home and cried.

Yes. During that time, I was the caretaker for my aunt, who died of bone cancer. So I was spending 15-hour-long days with incredible pressure and then spending the night with her. There were times when I felt on the brink. I dug deep for courage and relied on the support of my family and friends. But the stress took its toll; I lost a tremendous amount of weight.

Was there a low point?

It was whenever details came out in the files that I had not seen about the particulars of people being abused. I couldn't imagine somebody doing that to a child.

People remember you as "the blond woman" who spoke for the church. Do you think you're judged more by your appearance than by what you say?

I've never tried to use my looks to gain anything. Whatever [appearance] factors in, I don't know. I think some people were surprised that a young, single female was working for the church.

Do you think you helped bring about change?

We have a long way to go, but the settlement of cases, the counseling program to victim-survivors, and just recognizing the evil that was going on -- it's all huge.

Did you take your new job because it was likely to be noncontroversial?

No, I'm not afraid of a challenge and hard work. The Red Cross provides a product that saves people's lives, but we don't collect enough blood in this region to serve the need. We are constantly trying to come up with ways to collect more.

Have you ever donated?

Yeah, but last time I went in, my iron was a little low, so I was temporarily deferred.

Maybe you were still recovering from the last job.

Exactly. What a difference a year makes. I have some scars, and I've definitely changed, but I've learned a lot.

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