March 09, 2005

Victims' attorney: The Catholic Church still has a long way to go

Daily Hampshire Gazette


Setting up a review board that evaluates charges of sexual abuse by clergy and makes recommendations to the bishop is a step in the right direction, says an area lawyer who has represented dozens of victims. But, he adds, the Springfield diocese can do a better job of serving those hurt by predatory priests.

Greenfield lawyer John J. Stobierski, who has had about 10 clients appear before the board, says, for starters, the diocese should allow victims to bring attorneys to the board's hearings as the accused priests do. And, he says, the board should make public a list of priests against whom credible charges have been made.

Stobierski represented 45 people who agreed in 2004 to settle their sex-abuse claims against the Springfield diocese and accept a portion of a more than $7 million settlement.

He says the Dallas norms, the church law written by a gathering of bishops in 2002, requires the names of priests with credible charges against them to be made public, something he says the Springfield diocese has not done effectively.

''They should post the names on their Web site,'' he said. ''That would provide a sense of success for survivors.''

Posted by kshaw at March 9, 2005 02:58 PM