Documents reveal less-than-truthfulness

Documents reveal less-than-truthfulness

More bad news for Cardinal Law and his former top aides today. Today we have a story on certain archdiocesan records that seem to indicate the Cardinal Law knew more than previously thought about the extent of the Scandal in Boston.

But were they “hidden by the Law regime” as the article’s headline puts it? Aside from the fact that using “regime” is pejorative in journalism today, the fact that these reports were not left in regular files could be due to the need for confidentiality. I don’t think we need to assign any kind of bad motive to that.

Susan Gallagher, a victims’ rights advocate, said of the reports last night: “When people intentionally fail to keep documents on word processors, it’s more evidence of a concerted conspiracy to conceal crimes against children.”

I think that’s a bit of a stretch. There could be many valid reasons for not keeping these documents stored on certain computers.

What the reports do show is that the Scandal has caused real damage and real expense to the archdiocese. It also shows that some people who testified in depositions over the past year have been less than forthcoming about how much they knew and when.

The most concrete details are the total costs of the Scandal.

The reports carefully track the amount of money spent by the church on the crisis. Most costly to the archdiocese were settlements for victims, which between 1995 and 2000 totaled more than $21 million for 150 complainants. About $13 million was recovered from insurers, the reports indicate. The average settlement per victim rose from $53,000 in 1995 and 1996 to a high of $227,500 in 1998, before falling to $125,800 in 2000.

Add to that $21 million another $10 million last year for about 80 victims of John Geoghan and the proposed $55 million settlement for another 500 victims and you start to add up to real money: $86 million. I’m sure that doesn’t cover every settlement (especially those prior to 1995 and those apart from the big Geoghan settlement last year), but I would think it’s substantially most of them.