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Abuse lawyer releases names of accused priests, archdiocese defends policy

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BOSTON -- Attorney Mitchell Garabedian and his client Nadine Tifft held a press conference on May 7 in a conference room of the Hilton Hotel, during which Garabedian released the names of seven archdiocesan priests who he said had been credibly accused of sexually abuse of minors and yet were not listed on the Archdiocese of Boston website.

Garabedian and Tifft were accompanied by Robert Hoatson, Ph.D., co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, Inc., a New Jersey-based charity that assists victims of sexual abuse and their families.

Tifft said she was sexually abused by then Father John Sweeney in Vermont in approximately 2000. At the time, he was a priest of the Franciscans of Primitive Observance, a religious order sponsored by the archdiocese, but has since left the priesthood.

The seven priests Garabedian named as having been credibly accused of abuse were Father Gerard D. Barry, Father Walter Casey, Father Richard Donahue, Father Charles McGahey, Father Arnold E. Kelley, Father Edward J. McLaughlin, and Msgr. Charles J. Ring.

A press release from Garabedian and Hoatson said that with the exception of Father Kelley, these priests had never been named publicly by the archdiocese as having been credibly accused. It also said Garabedian would add the names of 13 credibly accused priests to his website, increasing the total number of accused Church volunteers and employees to 200.

The archdiocese responded to the criticism of its clergy abuse disclosure process later that day.

"The Archdiocese of Boston is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of children and young people in our parishes and institutions. We evidence that commitment in part by following our publicly-stated protocol for handling claims of abuse, as we have in the allegations asserted in today's press conference wherein it falsely suggests that archdiocese has broken from promises," the archdiocese said in a statement.

According to the archdiocese, all allegations were immediately reported to law enforcement and the publication of the priests' names was consistent with its policy, which can be viewed on its website.

The archdiocese said that Father Barry, Father Casey, Father McGahey, Father McLaughlin, and Msgr. Ring were not listed because they were already deceased when the allegation was made.

The allegation against Father Donahue was made after he retired. He is still under investigation and a determination has yet to be reached.

John Sweeney, who allegedly abused Tifft, is no longer a priest, and the allegation was received when he was no longer in ministry.

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