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Friday, 13 December, 2002, 18:17 GMT
Timeline: Boston sex scandal
Cardinal Law
Law has made several apologies for priests' activities
Timeline of the main events in the sex abuse scandal involving the US Catholic Church and in particular the Boston Archdiocese, where the crisis led ultimately to the resignation of the Cardinal Bernard Law.

1984: Bernard Law is appointed archbishop of Boston, and elevated to cardinal a year later.

1985: Sex abuse by priests becomes a national issue for the first time, as Louisiana priest Gilbert Gauthe pleads guilty to 11 counts of molestation of boys.

John Geoghan
Geoghan was sentenced in January
1992-3: Reverend James Porter of Fall River diocese is accused of abusing children in five US states in the 1960s and 1970s. He later pleads guilty to 41 counts of abuse.

1992: US bishops meeting in South Bend, Indiana, admit attempts by some of their number to hide abuse.

1993: First legal proceedings brought against Dallas diocese over sex abuse by the priest Rudolph Kos.

13 July, 1998: Dallas diocese forced to pay more than $31m to victims of Kos.

1999: Former Massachusetts priest John Geoghan indicted on child rape charges.

8 January, 2002: Vatican publishes guidelines on how to deal with paedophile priests, saying all cases should be reported to Rome.

Paul Shanley
Paul Shanley denies charges of child rape
9 January: Cardinal Law apologises to victims of John Geoghan and promises a tougher line on abusive priests in future.

18 January: Geoghan convicted of indecent assault and battery of a 10-year-old boy, for which he later receives a 10-year prison sentence.

10 February: Cardinal Law tells worshippers at Sunday mass he will not step down.

4 April: Two US men, in Florida and Oregon, begin legal action which symbolically names the Vatican for its alleged role in covering up sex abuse cases.

8 April: File released on Reverend Paul Shanley, alleging he publicly advocated sex between men and boys and still received the backing of the archdiocese for his ministry.

23 April: Pope John Paul II calls emergency meeting with US cardinals in Rome.

2 May: Paul Shanley arrested in California and later charged on three counts of child rape. He denies the charges.

Pope John Paul II
The Pope has accepted Cardinal Law's resignation
13 June: US bishops approve "zero tolerance" national policy on abuse, but the Vatican demands changes to protect rights of priests.

17 September: Boston Jesuit priest James Talbot charged with raping and assaulting three high school students.

19 September: Boston archdiocese reaches $10m settlement with victims of John Geoghan, declining a previous settlement of $30m which the Church said would have bankrupted the archdiocese.

3 November: Cardinal Law apologises for "decisions which led to suffering".

13 November: US bishops meet in Washington and approve revised policy on abusive priests which takes account of Vatican concerns.

On the same day, Roman Catholic activists from the Survivors First group launches an online database listing 573 US priests accused of involvement in paedophilia since 1996, later dropping 100 of the names.

3 December: New revelations about eight priests in Boston archdiocese accused of abusing women and girls, taking drugs and supplying drugs in return for sexual favours.

4 December: Boston archdiocese given permission by its financial council to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

6 December: Cardinal Law leaves for the Vatican, on the same day that he reportedly is ordered to appear before a grand jury investigating sex abuse allegations.

13 December: Cardinal Law resignation as Boston archbishop is accepted by the Pope.

The Church has been rocked by recent abuse revelations

Boston cardinal quits

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05 Dec 02 | Americas
04 Dec 02 | Americas
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