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Bernard Law, ex-Boston archbishop disgraced by priest sex abuse scandal, dies at 86 by Alastair Jamieson and Anne ThompsonDec 20 2017, 7:30 am ET Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced ex-archbishop of Boston whose failure to stop child molesters in the priesthood sparked a global crisis in Roman Catholicism, died Wednesday in Rome, Vatican officials announced Wednesday. He was 86. Law passed away "early this morning after a long illness," the Holy See said in a statement. One of the most important leaders in the U.S. church until scandal led to his resignation, Law was hugely influential as a confidante of Pope John Paul II, and was a regular visitor to the White House under President George W. Bush. But in January 2002, The Boston Globe began a series of reports based on church records that showed Law had transferred abusive clergy among parish assignments for years without alerting parents or police. Within months of the reports, which were recounted in the movie "Spotlight," Catholics around the country demanded to know whether their bishops had done the same. Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who represented dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by priests, said Law's death has reopened old wounds. "Bernard Law could have prevented many children from being sexually abused," he said in a statement to NBC News. "He knew what Father John Geoghan had done and he refused to notify the public. He refused to protect the innocent. Law's death is a reminder — his name is salt in the wound of many victims." In the case that started the scandal, the Globe reported that Law and two of his predecessors as Boston archbishop had moved Geoghan between parishes despite knowing that he molested children. More than 130 people eventually came forward to say Geoghan had abused them. The archdiocese paid $10 million in settlements with 86 of his victims and their relatives even as Law was clinging to his job. Alexa MacPherson, who says she was a victim of clergy sex abuse for six years as a child, had no words of sorrow at the news of Law's death. "Good riddance to bad rubbish. I hope the gates of hell are swinging wide to allow him entrance," she told The Associated Press. "I won't shed a tear for him — I might shed a tear for everyone who's been a victim under him."