Waiting Ends for Parents of Boy Allegedly Abused by Priest

Paula and Rodney Ford have waited more than two months for the public to see how Cardinal Bernard Law answered questions about the handling of sexual abuse allegations against the Rev. Paul Shanley.

The Fords sat through sworn depositions of Law in a suit they brought alleging Shanley molested their son when he was a boy.

Then they waited through an appeal of the court order making the transcripts public, and through a 30-day "cooling off" period aimed at setting the groundwork for possible settlement of lawsuits against the archdiocese.

The waiting ended Tuesday morning, when the documents were released. Law was also expected to be questioned Tuesday for a third day in the civil cases against Shanley, which accuse Law and other Archdiocese of Boston officials of negligence in failing to protect children.

"I think (the deposition transcript) will just confirm what the public has already known -- that Cardinal Law moved (Shanley) around," Paula Ford said Monday.

Law was sharply criticized after church personnel records released publicly in April revealed that he moved Shanley around from parish to parish and wrote him a positive retirement letter even though the archdiocese had received abuse complaints about him dating back to 1967.

Shanley was described in archdiocese documents as a "very sick person" and as a proponent of sex between men and boys.

Law also wrote Shanley a recommendation letter for a post at a California church in 1990 without telling officials there about the abuse allegations.

"I just cannot imagine writing a recommendation for anyone without knowing the record," Paula said. "I can't imagine in any capacity, let alone when you're talking about a priest responsible for the well-being of children."

Law said in a letter distributed to parishes in May that he did not become aware until 1993 of any abuse allegations against Shanley.

Law's attorney, J. Owen Todd, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said she could not comment before the transcripts were released.

Besides civil lawsuits, Shanley, 71, now retired, also has been charged with 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery. He pleaded innocent to those charges last month.

Shanley is accused of abusing boys from 1979 to 1989 while he was a priest at a church in Newton.

Also Monday, Louisville Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly said his "heart breaks" for victims of the sex-abuse scandal and he hopes he will have a chance to ask for their forgiveness.

Kelly said at a special "Service of Atonement" that the lawsuits against the archdiocese have kept him from direct contact with many victims.

"I hope that when all this is over, I may have an opportunity to apologize personally and beg forgiveness from each of these victims," Kelly said. "I long for a chance to beg forgiveness as I beg for it from God."

Kelly's remarks were his most direct public comments since the scandal began to unfold.

More than 170 people have sued the diocese, alleging sexual abuse by priests and other church workers and that Kelly's predecessors shifted abusive priests to new assignments rather than removing or reporting them.