Cardinal denies settlement with alleged sex abuse victims
BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- All parties involved last spring in discussions of a settlement between 86 alleged sexual abuse victims of an ex-priest and the Archdiocese of Boston recognized that it was never a done deal, Cardinal Bernard Law testified Friday.
Law acknowledged, however, that his public statements did not refer to the deal as a tentative one.
Plaintiffs' attorney Mitchell Garabedian pointed out an article in the Catholic newspaper The Pilot in which Law was quoted as saying, "This settlement is an important step for reaching closure to these victims who have long endured the damage done to them by John Goeghan."
Asked if his use of the words "this settlement" means there was a settlement, Law said, "It does if you take those words in isolation. I think, if you take those words in context, it's clear what was meant there was 'this proposed settlement,'" Law said.
In questioning that lasted two hours, plaintiffs' attorney Mitchell Garabedian also pointed to an editorial and a press release in which Law referred to the settlement without qualifying it as a proposed one.
"Absent the agreement of all the plaintiffs and all the defendants, there was not a settlement in place," Law told Garabedian.
"You knew that, we knew that. The word 'settlement' was being used in a broad way to cover a proposed settlement. Was that accurate? I wish that I had not used the term. I wish that I had used the term 'proposed settlement.' I did not use that term. My intent was certainly to convey that, because I was not under the illusion that that settlement was a fact."
After the 86 plaintiffs agreed to the settlement, in which they would receive up to $30 million, civil claims surfaced from alleged abuse victims of another priest. The archdiocese's finance council then said the church did not have enough money to pay all potential claims and scuttled the deal.
Garabedian wants the judge to decide whether the collapsed settlement is binding.
The archdiocese has said the agreement should not be considered binding because it was not signed by all of the defendants.
Law is scheduled to give depositions next week in separate abuse cases. Settlement talks recently broke down with lawyers for alleged victims in those 240 other pending cases.
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