- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2002

BOSTON (AP) A former altar boy who said that a high-ranking Roman Catholic priest molested him in the 1980s withdrew his lawsuit yesterday after questions arose about the validity of his assertions.
Monsignor Michael Smith Foster, the chief canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Boston, had maintained his innocence and said he was devastated by the accusations.
Paul Edwards, 35, said in a lawsuit filed last month against the archdiocese and Monsignor Foster that the priest molested him repeatedly in the 1980s, when Mr. Edwards was a teen-age altar boy.
Mr. Edwards yesterday filed a motion to dismiss his lawsuit. It was dropped with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled later, said Monsigner Foster's attorney, Ellen Martin.
Last week, Mr. Edwards' attorney, Eric J. Parker, withdrew from the case, saying "issues arose, central to the allegations."
Church officials had said Mr. Edwards' assertions that Monsignor Foster raped him in his bedroom were implausible because of rules that prevented altar boys from visiting priests' quarters for any significant period of time.
Immediately after Mr. Edwards filed suit, friends of Monsignor Foster and another priest named in the lawsuit, the late Rev. William Cummings, denied the accusations.
Mr. Edwards had said that Father Cummings had raped him during an overnight trip to New York City with the Catholic Youth Organization at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish of Newton in 1982.
But adults and chaperones who went on the outing said it was a day trip. Also, archdiocesan records indicate that Father Cummings was not assigned to the Our Lady parish until a year later.
Monsignor Foster took a leave of absence after the lawsuit was filed.
Donna Morrissey, an archdiocese spokeswoman, declined to comment specifically on the case.
She did say, however, that the church's policy is to take steps to restore a priest's reputation if an accusation turned out to be false.

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