Boston Archdiocese Agrees to Settle Sex Abuse Case

The Boston Archdiocese (searchhas agreed to settle a clergy sex abuse claim that had been dropped after the plaintiff's account was questioned.

Paul R. Edwards (search), 36, of Winchendon claimed he was abused by the late Rev. William Cummings during a 1982 trip to New York with a Catholic youth group.

Even though the church initially denied his claim, a review has found him to be at least as credible as other clergy abuse victims who are participating in an $85 million settlement, said the Rev. Christopher Coyne (search), a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Edwards' settlement will be separate from the $85 million settlement, but his award, to be determined by an arbitrator, will fall within the same $80,000 to $300,000 range as other victims, The Boston Globe reported.

Edwards sued in August 2002 claiming he'd been abused by Cummings and the Rev. Michael Foster, the archdiocese's top canon law specialist.

His allegations were dismissed by the archdiocese and denied by Foster. Friends of the priests denied the allegations, and others questioned Edwards' account of the circumstances of the alleged attacks. A priest-psychiatrist called Edwards a "pathological liar," but later admitted that he had never met Edwards.

Edwards voluntarily withdrew his claims and he was excluded from the settlement reached in September with 540 alleged victims of abuse.

But later that month, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley, who has been trying to resolve the clergy sex abuse crisis in Massachusetts, decided to take a second look at Edwards' allegations against Cummings. The claims against Foster, who was cleared by an internal church inquiry, were not reviewed, said Coyne.

Edwards' lawyer said the settlement was vindication for his client.

"We are not done yet in restoring Paul's name," attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. said. "The bottom line is that I don't think that the archdiocese would be giving money to people who were pathological liars."

Meanwhile, the archdiocese announced that it has put 27 acres of its land in Boston on the market to try to raise money to help pay the $85 million settlement. The plot includes the mansion used by the last four archbishops.

O'Malley announced shortly after his installation in July that he would not live in the mansion. As a Capuchin Franciscan friar, he has taken a vow of poverty.

The archdiocese has said it will not use collection money from parishioners to pay for the settlement, instead relying on insurance and real estate sales.