"As I have indicated," Law said on Jan. 25, "there is no priest, or former priest, working in this archdiocese in any assignment whom we know to have been responsible for sexual abuse."
Despite that statement, the archdiocese late Thursday added the names of six more priests to the two suspended on Saturday amid allegations of sexual misconduct with children. In addition, the archdiocese Thursday forwarded the names of 20 more present and former priests accused of past sexual abuse to district attorneys in Massachusetts for possible criminal prosecution, bringing the total to 60. There are just over 900 priests in the archdiocese.
"These names were revealed in an ongoing review of personnel records," the archdiocese said in a statement. The review covered files dating back more than 40 years.
Prosecutors continued to complain, however, that bringing criminal charges would be difficult if not impossible without the names of alleged victims who would be willing to testify. "Once again they have given us the names of priests but not the other relevant information we previously requested," said David Traub, spokesman for the Norfolk County district attorney.
A Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll published Friday said nearly half of some 800 adult Catholics interviewed earlier this week believe Law should resign because of his poor job in dealing with pedophile priests. The poll found those questioned had not lost faith in the church, however, but in Law's credibility. The poll also found 64 percent of local Catholics believe leaders of the church care more about protecting abusive priests than in helping victims of abuse, and 78 percent said they believe church leaders have tried to cover up sexual abuse by priests.
Law, who has served as archbishop of Boston since 1984, over recent weeks has said he has no plans to resign. The latest reports of priests being suspended did not surprise advocates for victims. "There is a subculture of sex abuse within the Archdiocese of Boston that has to be rooted out,'' Mitchell Garabedian, lawyer for 84 plaintiffs in the John J. Geoghan molestation scandal, told the Boston Herald. "I'm not at all surprised more individuals are being named.''
It was the Geoghan case that focused national attention on the issue of pedophile priests. Geoghan has been accused of molesting 130 children while serving in various Boston-area parishes. He recently was convicted in the first of three criminal cases, and faces some 90 civil suits.
Law had approved Geoghan's transfer from parish to parish even though he knew of his pedophilia since 1984, Law has admitted. As a result, Law was named as the sole defendant in another lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court on Thursday by a 26-year-old man who claims he was sexually molested by Geoghan in 1989 at the age of 13.
In the suit, Law is accused of negligence because he reportedly knew of allegations of sexual abuse against Geoghan when he allowed him to return to parish work after being sent to a treatment center for molesting children.