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Attorney for Alleged Victims Holds Press Conference Following Law's Resignation

Aired December 13, 2002 - 10:01   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: First on CNN this morning, the crisis in the priesthood and the resignation of a church leader who had came to symbolize many of the concerns. Embattled Cardinal Bernard Long tendered his resignation to the pope this morning in a Vatican meeting that underlines the seriousness of the sex abuse scandal in Boston.
For the latest on this developing story, let's go to Boston now.

Our bureau chief Bill Delaney checks in.

Hello, Bill.


Well, one late-breaking development here, we're told that one of the victims' attorneys could be holding a press conference, will be holding a press conference very shortly. And of course, Leon, you I will break off our conversation if that happens. Historic change here in the archdiocese of Boston, Cardinal Law submitting his resignation to Pope John Paul II several hours ago. Pope John Paul II, this time, Unlike last April, accepting that resignation, no measure more profound of the ever-deepening, profound crisis here in the archdiocese of Boston.

Now Christopher Coyne, Father Christopher Coyne, about an hour or so ago, Leon, had this to say on behalf of the archdiocese of Boston.


REV. CHRISTOPHER COYNE, BOSTON ARCHDIOCESE: All along, the cardinal has said that he wanted to remain archbishop of Boston, because he thought that he was the best person to lead us forward and do what needed to be done in order to heal the wounds that have arisen in the archdiocese because of the abuse of children by priests.

At the time, it became apparent that he probably could not lead us, and then he finally came to the conclusion that he was not the person to lead us forward, but somebody else had to step in.


DELANEY: Some of the mechanics of this, the person who will step in, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Boston, Richard Lennon, will assume virtually all of the duties of cardinal law. Cardinal Law will remain a cardinal for the time being, as we understand it. He will continue to live in his quite palatial residence on the grounds of the chancery of the archdiocese of Boston, while his ultimate fate is decided.

Cardinal Law himself acknowledging that he will take part in pretrial depositions in the many civil cases against the archdiocese of Boston here next week. And of course, he has been subpoenaed about a week ago, exactly a week ago, by the attorney general of Massachusetts, to appear before a grand jury.

So Cardinal Law stepping down as archbishop here. But the legal things he has to deal with will continue for months, and maybe even years -- Leon.

HARRIS: Thanks, Bill.

And we want to let you know we will have live coverage of that press conference that Bill just reported here, that press conference coming from Boston, with the officials there with the church. We hope to some get word on that any minute. We'll have it for you.

In the meantime, let's get some words from the Vatican, the spiritual and logistical center of the Catholic Church.

As a matter of fact, let's wrap this up and go back to that press conference in Boston. As a matter of fact, there we go.

MITCHELL GARABEDIAN, ATTY. FOR ALLEGED VICTIMS: These victims, these survivors of sexual abuse, clergy sexual abuse, should be very proud of themselves. No one believed them. No one believed them for long time. No one believed that the supervisors of the archdiocese of Boston were involved in this for a long time. These people showed the strength. These victims showed the strength to come forward, to come forward and show the world and send a message to the Vatican that they will be recognized, that the Vatican has to pay attention to these victims, that these sexual molestations have to stop. And the supervisors cannot turn their backs on these situations. It's about the truth, it's about honesty, it's about determination, self determination.

These victims should be very proud. For the first time, we have a United States cardinal resigning, resigning as the archbishop of the archdiocese of Boston. That sends a message, not only to the victims, not only to parishioners, not only to non-Catholics and Catholics alike, but it sends a victim to all the other supervisors. You know who you are. You have to look within yourself, to make a determination as to whether you should also resign.

The pleadings indicate that many supervisors are involved as defendants in these cases. You have Bishop Thomas Daley (ph). You have Bishop William Murphy. You have Archbishop Alfred Hughes. You have Bishop Robert Banks. You have many supervisors who were involved in these matters, as the evidence indicates.

And strangely enough these bishops were all powerful people in Boston, within the Boston archdiocese. It's now time for them to follow Bernard Cardinal Law's lead and make a determination.

Once again, these victims should be very, very proud of themselves. This resignation will help many victims heal. But unfortunately, it won't help many victims heal, because many victims felt as though, and still feel as though the church turned their back on them a long time ago and left them out there hanging.

A very important issue, a very important issue, is why did Bernard Cardinal Law resign? What was the motivation? Some think it was economic. Some think that the church has been hit so hard in the pocketbook that they have to change their image. If that's the motivating factor, then they're really not going to change substantively and within themselves. If it's morality and spirituality, then maybe change will occur within the archdiocese. But only time will tell.

I'm not going away. The victims are not going away. And I want the Vatican to hear that loud and clear. I will continue with the litigation. I will continue representing these victims.

Any questions?

QUESTION: What's the status of the settlement?

GARABEDIAN: We're litigating these cases right now. I'm meeting with the attorney general's office, and there are mediation discussions. But the mediation discussions just began. It's too early to tell what the status is. I'm not quite sure. We're just setting the context at this point.

QUESTION: How do you expect the resignation to impact the timeline of these settlements? Do you expect it to impede anything?

GARABEDIAN: No. Cardinal law will be deposed by this office. If I have to go to Rome to depose him, I'll go to Rome to depose him. If I have to go wherever he is, I'll go there. It will be necessary to continue the litigation. This does not free Cardinal Law from the litigation.

QUESTION: Was this day inevitable? Was his resignation inevitable?

GARABEDIAN: I don't know. I mean, I honestly don't know. I've been dealing in these cases for years. And whenever I expect the church to turn left, they turn right. Whenever I expect them to turn right, they turn left. So I don't know.

QUESTION: What do you know about Bishop Lennon, and do you think he will be any easier to deal with on this?

GARABEDIAN: Bishop Lennon's deposition was taken in this office at least two times. I don't know how he will be able to deal in these cases. He didn't strike -- it wasn't a deposition of great significance. Either deposition wasn't of great significance.

QUESTION: What sense do you get from him? Is he a reasonable person?

GARABEDIAN: He seemed to be a reasonable person but that doesn't mean anything, because let's see how he acts in the future and deals with these cases in the future. This is a monster. Just because Bernard Cardinal Law resigned, doesn't mean everything is OK now. There's enormous rot, enormous decay within the archdiocese of Boston. We've all seen that for years. And now it has to cleanse itself.

And this isn't going to be a magic wand where everything is OK now, all of a sudden it's Monday morning and it will be fine. They need to correct themselves. They need to look within. They need to make great adjustments in their personnel.

QUESTION: A question for Patrick. Patrick, all along you've been calling for Cardinal Law to resign. When the documents came out that he knew about Gheogan (ph) and then Gheogan (ph) was moved, it seemed like you got even more angry.

Now that he's resigned, do you take your aim off Cardinal Law, or do you still want to see steps taken against him legally?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's about time something has happened with the cardinal finally making the right decision. All these years he's been sending out these pedophile priests to molest children and not doing anything about it, not taking any responsibility, being held accountable in anyway whatsoever. Now, finally, he has done something that was right to the people and not selfish.

QUESTION: Some victims worry this will take the spotlight off the issue, though, him being the lightning rod.

PATRICK MCSORLEY, ALLEGED VICTIM: There was, like Mitchell said, there were other supervisors involved as well. I mean, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This isn't over yet. It will take a long time.

QUESTION: How does his resignation help some of the victims heal?

MCSORLEY: In many different ways. Each victim has his own story. And for me, you know, what happened happened. It's a little too late, but at least we know now we can try to start anew and try to make it work out. I don't want to hear any more about any more little kids being victimized by any more priests.

QUESTION: There's a very good possibility that there are victims who have not yet come forward. Who will think, good, he resigned, it's over, I don't need to come forward.

MCSORLEY: Well, then, like I said, each person has to make his own decisions for himself. Some of them may go down the wrong road. Some of them may end up dying.

QUESTION: Does that worry you, that they won't come forward? What do you want to say to those people who might not come forward, who might go down the wrong road as you suggest, because they think it's over?

MCSORLEY: Seek for help. Seek for help. Seek for counseling. Go on medications if you have to. Just try to heal the main. It's very deep, and I know because I've suffered from it all my life.

I mean, you know, this is supposed to be the most moral institution in the world, doing the most immorally deeds, and pawning it off on to the victims. This isn't supposed to happen. We need to clean this up.

QUESTION: Do you think church has been irreparably harmed by this?

MCSORLEY: Of course it has, and it destructed itself. You know, we didn't cause these problems; they did.

QUESTION: There's no turning back.

MCSORLEY: No, there is no repair in this for a lot of us. Sorry to say, it's a sad situation.

QUESTION: Patrick, what would you say to Cardinal Law?

MCSORLEY: Finally, you did the right thing by resigning, and we have loved you for many years, but we were deceived, and you know, that's pretty much all I have to say to him.

QUESTION: Can you forgive the cardinal?

MCSORLEY: I don't know how. I don't know. I'm speechless about that. I don't know. He's hurt a lot of people. He's deceived a lot of people. This is something that's going to be very hard to overcome, and that's going to take a lot of time.

QUESTION: The cardinal's statement this morning, this goes to the other gentlemen as well, that he basically said in the statement that he begs for your forgiveness, he begs forgiveness for the people that have suffered.

MCSORLEY: I'll try to keep him in my prayers. that's all.

WILLIAM OVERLY, ALLEGED VICTIM: That's the first I heard of it. He should have begging a long time ago. It's still too much, too little, too late. After all, this is a lot deeper than just him. He was at the tip of the iceberg. He was the pointman. There's a lot of other people that are responsible.

QUESTION: Can you forgive the cardinal?

OVERLY: I honestly can't say. I have mixed emotions.

MCSORLEY: That's exactly -- he's right.

OVERLY: As a Catholic, I'm sure I have some -- I have some sympathy for the Devil. But he took an active role in covering up the victimizations of quite possibly hundreds of thousands of individuals.

As a parent today, as a grandparent today, I was molested when I was 12 years old on a sailboat, I look back at the pain that my mother must have gone through, not knowing what happened to us, knowing there was something wrong, and not knowing what it was. Sure as hell we weren't telling.

I think of the holidays that weren't such holidays, dealing with all of that. And I will never, ever forget those, those pains will never go away. All the money in the world, all the resignations of all those responsible will never change that, for any one of us. And as Mr. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said today, earlier this morning, that you don't know until you are a victim. That's all.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope they focus on the victims now. He stepped down and everything. But in my eyes, it should turn on the people who haven't come out. It's not easy. They can tell somebody, anybody. I'm sure it's not easy.

But with his stepping down to me it's a little bit of a step. But what about the victims? What about the people out there? It's not just us. It's our families that suffered, it's a rough road, without knowing why, whatever you've done or haven't done in life. It's time for the victims to be focused on, turn the light on them, find out how they're doing, not how Cardinal Law is doing. Find out how they're doing, how their families are doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all about them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just turn to them, ask them how they're doing.

QUESTION: Can you forgive the cardinal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, I don't even worry about him. He's just a pawn in this whole thing. He's a big pawn. But I don't know about forgiving. I'm worried about the victims. I'm not worried about Cardinal Law.

GARABEDIAN: I have a point to make. Can I just stay one thing? You have to understand a lot of these victims, I've dealt with over 200 victims, they have a certain emptiness. They don't feel anything. If you ask them can they forgive, they don't feel anything. If you ask them, are you happy, they don't feel anything. It's just a certain emptiness in them. You could take them to an amusement park or a baseball game, and ask them, are you happy? They don't feel anything. There's just emptiness. It's almost indescribable; it's a void.

QUESTION: Is it ever repaired?

GARABEDIAN: With some it is, and with some it isn't. It's just a void. It's like an empty spot in their hearts that doesn't go away. They don't feel pleasure in things that one would normally feel pleasure in, and they don't feel sadness in one -- in things that one would normally feel sadness in. It's just an empty spot.

QUESTION: You said you're going to work with the attorney general? GARABEDIAN: Well, all I can say about that, I've met with the attorney general's office, members of the attorney general's office twice in the past month, and the discussions are continuing. I would defer to the attorney general's office for comment. Obviously, I'm meeting about sexual abuse cases within the archdiocese of Boston.

QUESTION: Do you foresee criminal action against the cardinal and others?

GARABEDIAN: I defer to the attorney general on that one. He's only asking me, or their office is only asking me to provide information and they're making the decisions, they're weighing the information and making the decisions.

QUESTION: Is that what you'd like to see?

GARABEDIAN: I have no comment at this time.

QUESTION: You asked about Father Lennon. It sounded like you said the next archbishop of Boston, that he come from outside the archdiocese of Boston. Is that the case?

GARABEDIAN: The next archbishop of Boston has to be an honest person who will help the victims, who will open the door a little bit, just a little bit, so that those victims who want to return to the church can return to the church. They'll have an opening within the church door to return.

Many victims who want to return to the church, and some still do, feel as though the church has been -- the church door has been closed in their face forever by this denial, by the Vatican, by the archdiocese leader and by the pedophilia -- by the secrecy.

QUESTION: What do you think about the bishop not showing up this morning for the press conference?

GARABEDIAN: I'll let you draw your own conclusion as to that.

QUESTION: Anybody else want to comment on that?

OVERLY: I thought it was rather strange, but I think it's all part of the secrecy of the Vatican and the church. I'm sure if he really thought it was important -- as I said, I don't know what to say sometimes, because for most of my life, the Catholic Church has been changing the rules whenever they saw fit. And obviously, the rules don't apply to them, you know, just the whole fact that this happened. So its hard to have faith in a church that's been responsible for such a heinous crime on society, on man.

I'm very deeply steeped in Jude-Christian belief, but it's an institution, people have to understand. They don't need the church to be close to God. You know, I think the real spirit of it all is gone, and it has been irreparably remember damaged by these...

HARRIS: This has been an incredibly heart-wrenching press conference that we've been listening in on this morning. This is a collection of people who are very, very close to the story, people who have been abused by the priests in the Catholic Church. We've been listening to Mitchell Garabedian, who is the attorney representing some 200 different alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests, as well as two victims who are alleged that they've been abused by priests, Patrick McSorely, William Overly. We're going to talk about that some more in just a minute.


Following Law's Resignation>

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