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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Alleged Church Abuse Victim Found in River

Aired June 19, 2003 - 20:24   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the annual U.S. conference of Catholic bishops -- it's under way in St. Louis right now. Much like last year, one topic that's getting a lot of attention is how the church is dealing with sexually abusive clergy.
Now while some victims advocates say nothing has really changed in how bishops are handling the problem, at least one bishop says the church has fallen through on its promise to do -- to root out abusive priests.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCIS CARDINAL GEORGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO: As far as I know, every bishop went back and went through the records and removed from ministry anyone who was credibly accused of this. I don't know any other group that's done that. I don't know whether journalists have done that. I don't know whether politicians have done that. I don't know whether sports directors have done that. I think that's been done, and to say, well, maybe it's done, maybe it's not done, is dishonest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, as the conference was going on in St. Louis, two Los Angeles area priests were arrested in connection with the ongoing sex abuse investigation there. Officials now say 11 priests in other L.A. diocese personnel are facing sex abuse charges.

Meanwhile, one of the first alleged sex abuse victims to sue the Catholic Church is hospitalized in critical condition tonight at this moment. Patrick McSorley -- that is his name -- having nearly drowned, was found by a friend last night in a Boston area river.

Mitchell Garbedian was McSorley's lawyer in his case against now defrocked priest John Geoghan and the Boston archdiocese. Garabedian joins us now live from Watertown, Massachusetts.

Mitchell, thanks for being with us. I know you saw Patrick earlier today. You've spoken with his family. How is he doing? What is his condition?

MITCHELL GARABEDIAN, PATRICK MCSORLEY'S ATTY.: Patrick is in the Boston Medical Center in the intensive care unit. He's under a life support system. He's unconscious. He's not responsive at this point in time. His status is critical. COOPER: And how is his family doing?

GARABEDIAN: His family is understandably upset and extremely worried at this point in time.

COOPER: What at this point is known about what happened to him?

GARABEDIAN: Unfortunately, not much. He was pulled out of the Neponset River in Dorchester by a friend. This -- Massachusetts State Police are currently investigating the matter. And that's it about right now.

COOPER: Obviously there has been at this point just, you know, rumors and innuendo, a possible suicide. Is there any information about that? Do you have anything on that?

GARABEDIAN: Well, all I can say is I have no specific information about that. But all I can say is about two days ago I had a very long conversation with Patrick about the friction between Cardinal Mahony and Governor Keating and the review board in obtaining documents and breaking the secrecy and silence of the church, and Patrick was very upset. He was disappointed that the church wasn't being truthful, honest and forthright in just helping the victims to heal.

Patrick's been a hero all along in Boston. He's been a spokesman for the victims. He's been a beacon in the night for the victims who understandably are quiet about this in their own way. Patrick's been a source of strength for many victims.

COOPER: And it was after the suicide of his father when he was a child that he first came in contact with this Priest Geoghan, who he alleges molested him after -- what? -- after I think it was buying him ice cream shortly after the death of his father.

Tell us what his life really has been like since then. I mean, he has been extraordinarily out in front, on television, very active, trying to pursue charges against the priest he held responsible. What's his life been like?

GARABEDIAN: Well, his life has been an emotional rollercoaster, like so many victims' lives. One day it's happy, the next day it's sad, the next day it's sadder, and the next day it's saddest. I mean, it's up and down, right and left. He's not quite sure how he's going to feel from day-to-day.

But one thing's for sure about Patrick: he put his heart and soul into this movement to stop the clergy from abusing children. And he's always wanted to protect children so that children are no longer abused by pedophile priests.

COOPER: And since this incident occurred, since he was found, have you heard from other victims? How are they responding?

GARABEDIAN: I've heard from victims from around the country, from nonvictims from around the country. Victims feel a sense of bonding with Patrick, and they feel a certain sense of sadness and express their support. I've even received a telephone call from a Catholic priest in Kentucky who was a survivor, expressing his support and prayers.

COOPER: Mitchell, appreciate you joining us, giving this update. Please give our best to Patrick's family.

GARABEDIAN: Thank you. I will.

COOPER: Thank you very much.

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