Thu March 14, 2002
Providence Diocese Asked To Settle Too
By Martha Bebinger
WRNI – In light of sexual abuse legal settlement between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, people with suits pending against the church in Rhode Island want a settlement of their own. They want Bishop Robert Mulvee to turn over records in abuse cases and settle 38 lawsuits filed in 1993 that have been consolidated into one case.
Lee White filed his complaint in 1993, a year after he "recovered" memory of abuse in 1970. He Argued that the statute of limitations clock stops when painful memories are
repressed. Lower court rulings so far have narrowed the scope of the suits, making it harder to prove which cases fit the statute of limitations. The church has also successfully claimed that the First Amendment protects most documents and limits the church's liability unless there was a specific intent to harm victims. Those issues are expected to go to the state Supreme court.
While the church has turned over few records, Lee White says he has answered questions about women he dated, turned over 30 years of tax returns, medical and employment records, as well as the names of anyone he talked to about his case. White accuses the church of trying to stall.
"I would not call that stalling.I would call that orderly, responable compliance with the rules of procedures in the conduct of discovery. This is a lawsuit, and when you file a
lawsuit, you comply with the rules of a lawsuit," responds William Murphy, the lawyer representing former Bishop Louis Gelineau and current Bishop Robert Mulvee.
"I don't know if it's moral or convenient to settle them. You have to
have resources with which to settle lawsuits. The resources aren't there, because the money is committed to general, charitable and religious education works of the church. My clients did not create a legal situation here. We did not file a lawsuit. We did not try to use the courts to second guess religious decisions," said Murphy.