Changes happen in archdiocese abuse cases

Michael P. Tremoglie Dec. 5, 2011, 12:34pm

There have been two new developments in the ongoing litigation of the allegations of sexual abuse involving priests from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

There were changes to the review board used by the archdiocese and of the legal counsel representing it.

The Catholic News Agency reported Nov. 28 that Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput appointed seven new members of the archdiocesan review board that advises the archdiocese in suspected abuse cases. The board reports to the archbishop on the validity of allegations and the suitability of the clergy for continued duty. The board is in keeping with the U.S. bishops’ Dallas Charter,

“These individuals, Catholic and non-Catholic, possess a broad range of professional competencies that are essential to conducting a review process that is equally thorough and just to all who may be involved,” Archbishop Chaput said in a Nov. 22 announcement. “Non-clerical external advisers such as these are crucial to the process,” he noted, “as they provide a high level of expertise coupled with objective advice.”

The new board members include retired Philadelphia Police Department Lt. Michael Boyle, formerly of the department’s Child Abuse Unit; Judge-elect Charles Ehrlich, previously of the city district attorney’s Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit; and veteran prosecutor Arnold Gordon.

The other additions are Janet Shaw Lemoine, an experienced victims’ advocate; Richmond Parsons, a law enforcement veteran now handling probation and parole; Laura Rogers, a former prosecutor with experience at the Navy and Justice Department; and Robert Spinelli, a specialist in tort litigation.

Meanwhile, The Legal Intelligencer reported Dec. 5 that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has replaced its counsel in the sex abuse scandal. The Philadelphia law firm of Conrad O'Brien has replaced Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, also of Philadelphia.

Conrad O'Brien will also replace Stradley Ronon et al in all of the litigation in which it represented the archdiocese.

“The archdiocese has new leadership, and this is the first of many adjustments that will be made in the coming year," archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell said in a statement. "After a thorough interview process, the archdiocese has engaged Conrad O'Brien for all pending and future civil litigation proceedings. Jim Rohn and Nick Centrella will serve as lead attorneys for Conrad O'Brien."

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