October 09, 2005

Judge tosses lawsuit alleging abuse by nuns at defunct Boston school

Foster's Daily Democrat

BOSTON (AP) A judge dismissed the first of 18 lawsuits filed by former students of the now-defunct Boston School for the Deaf who allege they were sexually and physically abused by nuns decades ago.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Margot Botsford on Friday dismissed Michael Ross' complaint four days before the case was to go to trial. Botsford's move came two days after she ruled that the Taunton man's lawyer could not present evidence of an "air of lawlessness" condoned by the school principal at the time of the alleged abuse in the 1950s.

Ross's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, who also represents the 17 other former students of the school, said he intends to continue with their individual lawsuits alleging abuse from the 1940s through the 1970s.

But Garabedian said Botsford's evidentiary ruling Wednesday "certainly doesn't help" if he tries to make a similar argument in the other complaints.

Joseph L. Doherty Jr., who was representing the retired 93-year-old principal in Ross's suit and is involved in the 17 remaining claims, said that the dismissal was a "tremendous victory" for the nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph. The other suits are likely to suffer a similar fate, he said.

Ross, who has been deaf from birth, alleged that in 1951, when he was about 9 years old, a nun force-fed him soup in the cafeteria, causing him to vomit, and slapped him in the face. Three years later, he said, she confined him to a dark room.

Ross also alleged that another nun had sex with him and repeatedly engaged in "lewd and lascivious behavior" with him when he was about 16 years old.

But because both nuns are deceased, Ross sued Sister Mary Carl Boland, who served as principal of the school from 1954 to 1966, Garabedian said. Boland lives in a Framingham nursing home for elderly nuns.

Posted by kshaw at October 9, 2005 11:04 AM