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The Archdiocese of Boston has agreed to settle sexual abuse claims against the late Father William Cummings despite the fact that his accuser had previously withdrawn allegations against the priest, agreeing never again to pursue legal action against the archdiocese.
Speaking to The Pilot Dec. 2, archdiocesan spokesman Father Christopher Coyne confirmed reports that a claim by Paul Edwards regarding Father Cummings would be settled and that the arbitration process had begun.
Edwards filed suit in August 2002 alleging that both Father Cummings and Msgr. Michael Foster, top canon lawyer for the archdiocese, had separately abused him during the early 1980s. Edwards later dropped the suit against the priests when inconsistencies in his accounts of abuse arose.
According to Father Coyne, in dropping the suit Edwards promised to never again pursue legal action against the two priests, the archdiocese or any incardinated priest of the archdiocese. However, the archdiocese recently agreed to settle Edwards’ claim regarding Father Cummings because a separate claim against the late priest was included in the recent $85 million settlement with 552 victims of clergy abuse.
"Mr. [Roderick] MacLeish, as his attorney, argued that since we were settling another case involving Father Cummings we should settle Mr. Edwards' case out of fairness," explained Father Coyne.
Father Coyne emphasized that Edwards’ settlement involves only the claims against Father Cummings and not those against Msgr. Foster.
"The situation involving Msgr. Foster was investigated twice and in both instances it was found to be without substance, and therefore there was no need to settle a case involving Msgr. Foster since there was no case," Father Coyne continued.
The settlement is not the result of any “finding of fact as to whether anything happened or not,” Father Coyne stated. “It’s just a settlement to end the claim.”
Because he had waved his right to sue the archdiocese, Edwards’ settlement is separate from the $85 million settlement. However, the same system of arbitration will be used to determine the amount of any monetary award. Edwards should be made aware of the amount around Dec. 21.