Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

February-20-03

Judge Denies Boston Archdiocese’s Request to Dismiss Civil Lawsuits

A Superior Court judge yesterday rejected a motion filed by the Archdiocese of Boston, seeking dismissal of 500 civil lawsuits alleging priest sex abuse. Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney disagreed with the archdiocese’s claim that court involvement would violate the Constitution’s call for separation of church and state. Rather, she explained, "If the court were to recognize the defendants' sweeping church autonomy doctrine, which would grant absolute civil immunity to church representatives, the result would be that church representatives could exercise all the rights and privileges the secular law affords yet not be burdened by any of the essential civil laws that protect the safety of all members of society, particularly children," according to the Associated Press. Still, Sweeney made two concessions: deeming the matters as “purely ecclesiastical,” she rejected charges that church supervisors were negligent in ordaining or not removing priests and fully liable for priests’ actions 24 hours a day, according to the Associated Press.

Unhindered, the archdiocese yesterday filed another motion requesting delays—until the grand jury investigation finished—on civil lawsuits against pedophile Rev. Paul Shanley. Shanley, now retired from priesthood, was indicted last June of six counts of indecent assault and battery on children younger than 14 as well as 10 counts of child rape of children younger than 11 years old, including two six-year-olds, according to CNN. The abuse took place over a ten-year span from 1979 to 1989.

The Archdiocese of Boston, which serves roughly 2.1 million Catholics, continues to rationalize its legal maneuvering as a means of placating insurers. However, critics say this behavior is just one more example of the church’s unaccountability. The pending lawsuits could cost the archdiocese $80 million in settlements, according to the BBC.

Similar priest sex abuse scandals have surfaced throughout the nation. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has spent over $2.3 million during the last 14 years and $5 million in insurance monies over the last two decades on priest sex abuse cases, according the Pioneer Press.

In December, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, faced with criminal violations carrying fines as high as $20,000, became the first to settle with state prosecutors.

Media Resources: New York Times 2/20/03; BBC 2/20/03; Associated Press 2/19/03; Pioneer Press 2/20/03; Feminist Daily News Wire


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

11/21/2014 STATEMENT: Feminist Majority Foundation Applauds President's Executive Order on Immigration - Statement from Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation president: "The Feminist Majority Foundation applauds President Obama for taking much needed executive action to help fix our broken immigration system that has for too long torn hardworking families apart. . . .
 
11/21/2014 Fifth Circuit Court Refuses to Reconsider Ruling Blocking Mississippi TRAP Law - The full US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday refused to reconsider a panel decision blocking enforcement of a Mississippi law that threatened to close the last remaining abortion clinic in the state. In July, a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction against a Mississippi TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. . . .
 
11/21/2014 UN Expert Calls for Action To End Violence Against Women in Afghanistan - United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo returned last week from a nine-day official visit in Afghanistan with a call to the Afghan Government and the international community to continue its focus on creating sustainable solutions to reduce violence against women. This was Manjoo's third visit to Afghanistan, and the Special Rapporteur noted many positive developments since her travel to the country in 1999, during the Taliban regime, and in 2005. In particular, Manjoo cited the creation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law (EVAW) by presidential decree in 2009 as "a key step towards the elimination of violence against women and girls."EVAW criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women - including rape, child and forced marriage, domestic violence, trafficking, and forced self-immolation - and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .