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Foster care

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 02, 2003

For more than a year the Boston Herald's Robin Washington has had his teeth into one of the strangest of Boston's strange stories of clerical sex abuse. It seems that the game is finally playing out to a stalemate:

More than a year after the Archdiocese of Boston twice dismissed Paul Edwards' clergy sexual abuse claims, the church has agreed to settle with the man its supporters once derided as a pathological liar.

Edwards, 36, who last year withdrew a suit charging abuse by Monsignor Michael Smith Foster and the late Rev. William Cummings after Foster's supporters labeled him a lifelong liar -- accusations later proved unfounded -- told his story yesterday to an arbitrator who will decide the settlement amount.

Fr. Cummings is long dead of AIDS. Msgr. Foster is the Archdiocese's principal canonist. So who's going to take the fall?

Though the church has steadfastly denied the Foster allegations, Archbishop Sean O'Malley agreed to extend the settlement offer on the Cummings claim and allow Edwards to tell the arbitrator about the Foster charges.

Washington attempted to ask the Archdiocese the uncomfortably obvious question:

A church spokesman did not return a call seeking comment on why claims were accepted against the dead priest but not Foster.

Of course it's possible that Edwards might be telling the truth about Cummings and lying (or exaggerating) about Foster. But it's hard to see how the Archdiocese could know Cummings was guilty and Foster is innocent. How then could they decide that Cummings shall henceforth be remembered as a sex-abuser -- i.e., in agreeing to the settlement -- except insofar as they find Edwards credible?

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 02, 2003 6:49 PM ET USA

    My guess is that the Archdiocese has determined it unuseful to attempt to deny allegations against Fr. Cummings (God rest his soul) since it is their word and the reputation of a dead man who died of AIDS vs. a living "victim" in this period of the Church scandal. On the otherhand a living priest presents a real live face from which to mount a defense against Mr. Edwards' claims. It also allows Edwards to take his money and drop his claim against Msgr. Foster. Perhaps a bit hopeful and naive.

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