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He may not be guilty

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 09, 2004

A Massachusetts bishop-- who experienced a sudden health crisis that forced his resignation last year just about the time sex-abuse charges were levelled against him-- has declined to testify in the lawsuit against him, citing his Fifth Amendment privileges against self-incrimination.

His lawyer hastens to remind us that we can't assume the bishop is guilty, just because he's taken the 5th. But reasonable people can draw reasonable inferences. It certainly would have looked better if the bishop had denied the allegations against him.

But again, don't jump to conclusions:

Arthur D. Wolf, a law professor at Western New England Law School, said lay people often read too much into invoking the Fifth Amendment.

"Sometimes when someone invokes the Fifth Amendment, people think it looks bad and assume guilt, but it may not be the case at all," Wolf said. "It may be a situation where someone may have acted immorally but not illegally. They may be embarrassed about having it revealed."

Very reassuring.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jul. 09, 2004 5:58 PM ET USA

    I doubt this individual is motivated by a desire to avoid embarassment. Considering episcopal policy making in the United States of late, shame is a very rare trait among American bishops.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 09, 2004 5:03 PM ET USA

    Wouldn’t it be great if you could “take the Fifth” in the confessional? Hey, maybe Dupre did!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 09, 2004 4:09 PM ET USA

    The distinction between permissable court testimony and ordinary conversation is continually muddied. OK, so Bishop Embarrased may not need to have a judge looking sceptically over his glasses at him.That doesn't mean commonsense has to be suspended as well.

  • Posted by: Phil - Jul. 09, 2004 2:07 PM ET USA

    Right; he "may have acted immorally but not illegally." And to this day we haven't heard a word of criticism from any one of his brother bishops. We now know that sometimes bishops do criticize other bishops-- such as when they protect the Eucharist from scandal. But when they act "immorally but not illegally"-- silence.

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