Church said to settle with 4 in Shanley suit

By Michael S. Rosenwald
Boston Globe
April 6, 2004

Four alleged sexual abuse victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, a priest at the center of the national scandal in the Catholic church, reached financial settlements with the Boston Archdiocese Sunday for an undisclosed amount, their attorneys said yesterday.

Among those settling a lawsuit was Gregory Ford, who will receive more than $1.4 million, according to an individual involved in the settlement. That's more than four times the highest payment made to an individual victim in the $85 million settlement the archdiocese reached with more than 500 other victims of clergy sexual abuse last year.

Ford, along with Paul Busa and two other unidentified individuals, had opted out of the historic settlement, which capped individual awards at $300,000. Ford's parents had relentlessly pursued the archdiocese on behalf of their son, who as a young boy was allegedly repeatedly raped by Shanley at the now-defunct St. Jean the Evangelist Parish in Newton.

At an afternoon news conference, lawyers Roderick MacLeish Jr. and Jeffrey A. Newman of the law firm Greenberg Traurig released evidence they said they would have presented at trial, including depositions by other students who said that Ford and Busa were sent repeatedly to Shanley for misbehaving during religious education classes.

Many times, Ford would never return to class, according to the depositions. On one occasion, Shanley was overheard using a raised voice with Ford in a meeting in a nearby bathroom, when there were two empty classrooms that could have been used for a private conversation. According to depositions, Ford was seen with his head down being led by Shanley to his residence in the rectory.

MacLeish also read from a deposition of Bishop Thomas V. Daily, who acknowledged that he had appointed Shanley to the Newton parish despite knowing that the priest "had attended and quite possibly endorsed the views" of the North American Man/Boy Love Association.

"And you regret that?" Daily was asked.

"I regret that," he answered.

MacLeish and Ford's father, Rodney Ford, also strongly denied assertions by former lawyers for the archdiocese that there were medical records indicating that Ford had been molested by his father. There are no such records, MacLeish said, adding that it was "one of the most disgusting" claims he'd heard as a lawyer.

Denying the claim, Rodney Ford called it "a disgrace" and added, "I withstood that." In a press release announcing the settlement, the archdiocese said that Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley "wishes to make clear that he does not believe or endorse any suggestion that has been made to the effect that Rodney Ford may have molested his own son.

In fact, the archbishop has been struck by the devotion of the Ford parents to their son."

MacLeish said that the archdiocese did not admit guilt in the settlements.

He said that Ford and Busa are willing to testify at Shanley's criminal trial in Middlesex County, scheduled for later this year. Shanley is charged with 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery on four children. He has been free on bail and is living somewhere in Massachusetts, MacLeish said.

Shanley "is a dangerous sociopath who deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison," MacLeish said, calling the priest a "human wrecking ball."

Rodney Ford thanked O'Malley for dealing with his family personally and taking much-needed steps to help their son, including paying for specialized, residential mental health treatment. Gregory Ford, now 26, has attempted suicide a number of times, but his outlook has improved recently, MacLeish indicated. Gregory Ford's sister, Kathryn, read a statement from her brother in which he said: "I would like to move forward with my life in a quiet manner. My hope is that all of the survivors can find some peace in their lives as well."

Stephen Kurkjian of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


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