Bishop Accountability
 
  Manchester NH Resources – March 2002

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Questions and answers about accused priests

Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 1, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=51587&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354

EDITOR’S NOTE: In response to the many questions that have arisen since the names of 14 priests accused of sexual misconduct with children were turned over to the state attorney general’s office, Telegraph reporter Stacy Milbouer compiled this report in a Q&A format:

Q: What happened on Feb. 15, 2002?
A: The Diocese of Manchester gave the state attorney general’s office the names of 14 Catholic priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors during a 24-year span that ended in 1987. The seven priests who were still active had their pastoral duties revoked on that day. The other seven had their duties rescinded sometime in the past.

Q: How many of the 14 priests named by the diocese on that day had ties to the Nashua area?
A: 10.

Q: When did these cases of alleged abuse occur?
A: While the diocese will not specify the nature or the time of individual cases, Bishop John McCormack did announce that the alleged abuses occurred between 1963 and 1987.

Q: When were they reported?
A: Again, the diocese will not give out information about specific cases, but the bishop said the alleged incidents of sexual misconduct with minors were reported between 1971 and 2001.

Q: What is the state law that addresses reporting suspected child abuse and when was it passed?
A: RSA 169-C:29 – the Persons Required to Report Law – went into effect Aug. 22, 1979. It states: “Any physician, surgeon, county medical examiner, psychiatrist, resident, intern, dentist, osteopath, optometrist, chiropractor, psychologist, therapist, registered nurse, hospital personnel (engaged in admission, examination, care and treatment of persons), Christian Science practitioner, teacher, school official, school nurse, school counselor, social worker, day care worker, any other child or foster care worker, law enforcement official, priest, minister or rabbi or any other person having reason to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected shall report the same in accordance to this chapter.”

Q: Did the diocese report any of these incidents to police before Feb. 15?
A: Yes, some were reported to police, according to the diocese. And while the diocese would not say which of the 14 names were turned over to authorities, it did say it turned in names if the accusations were made after the state reporting law went into effect in 1979 and the alleged victim was still a minor. If the alleged victim already had reached adulthood, the diocese decided what to do about the priest strictly on an in-house basis.

Q: What is the statute of limitations on cases of sexual misconduct with minors in New Hampshire?
A: The statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases has expired for acts committed before 1981, or if the victim turned 18 on or before April 26, 1984. But the state Legislature modified the law in 1990 so that reports of an alleged assault after those dates can be filed until the victim turns 40.

Attorney General Philip McLaughlin has made clear, however, that anyone who wants to report an act that he or she may have suffered or witnessed as a child should do so and not worry about the various time stipulations of the law.

Q: Does the diocese have any rules about sexual abuse by priests?
A: In 1997, the Diocese of Manchester enacted its Policy on Sexual Misconduct, which states “no priest will be assigned to pastoral ministry who has abused a child.”

Q: Why can’t the public or news media have access to these reports of alleged sexual misconduct with minors?
A: Because the Diocese of Manchester and the Catholic Church are private, not public entities. If any of the cases result in criminal charges in the court system, then at least some of those reports become a matter of public information.

Q: In this instance, did the Diocese of Manchester volunteer the names of these priests, or was it required to turn them over by the attorney general’s office?
A: In light of how the Archdiocese of Boston handled the growing controversy over a priest accused of child sex crimes, the attorney general said he was keeping a close eye on the Diocese of Manchester. Last month, McLaughlin was quoted as saying: “They didn’t give the impression of being forthcoming.”

McLaughlin’s office then contacted diocesan officials and entered into a dialogue that within a week prompted the diocese to revise its policy covering clerical misconduct with minors.

That new diocesan policy prohibits priests facing credible charges of child sexual abuse from working in the church. It was that change in policy that prompted the bishop to turn over the names of the 14 priests to the attorney general’s office for investigation and possible prosecution.

Q: Why aren’t those 14 priests in jail or at least under arrest?
A: Because they have not had any charges regarding misconduct with minors filed against them. According to the diocese, over the course of 30 years, at least one accusation of sexual misconduct with minors has been made to church officials against each of these men. It is now up to the attorney general’s office to investigate these cases and decide what, if any, charges will be filed against them.

Q: Does the Diocese of Manchester include all the Roman Catholic churches in New Hampshire?
A: Yes.

Q: Is the Diocese of Manchester part of a larger archdiocese, such as the Archdiocese of Boston?
A: No. The Diocese of Manchester is an entity unto itself and only answers to the Vatican as a ruling religious body.

Q: Does the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” – the book used to teach children the principles of the religion in CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes – address the subject of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy?
A: On Page 387 of a 1994 edition is the following passage: “The presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. The power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While the guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister’s sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church.”

Q: What should you do if you want to report a case of sexual misconduct involving a priest?
A: There are several ways to go about this, and they are not mutually exclusive:
? Call your local police department and file a complaint.
? If you want to inform church authorities in New Hampshire, write to The Bishop’s Delegate for Sexual Misconduct at the Diocesan Administration Building, P.O. Box 310, 153 Ash St., Manchester, NH 03105-0310, or call 669-3100.
? Contact the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. The organization runs a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential hotline: 1-800-277-5570.

Q: What is the church’s policy on investigating these reports?
A: The Manchester Diocese’s procedure for investigation, which was updated in 1998, is available in detail on its Web site, www.catholicchurchnh.org.

Q: Can the priests or diocesan officials who knew about the reports but didn’t notify authorities be held criminally responsible?
A: It is a misdemeanor not to report child abuse of any kind, according to the attorney general’s office. But to this point, it appears that the diocese was in compliance with the child reporting laws.

Q: What recourse do the priests who were named have?
A: According to a diocesan spokesman, canon law applies throughout the Catholic Church, no matter the diocese. In essence, that means any of the priests named on the list of 14 could challenge the decision in the same way as the Rev. D. George Spagnolia in Lowell, Mass. Canon law, which was last updated in 1983, allows for a priest to challenge an ouster all the way to the Vatican.

Q: Did any of the people who reported the alleged sexual misconduct in New Hampshire churches receive financial compensation from the church?
A: According to diocesan spokesmen, some of those who reported abuse did get compensated, but they would not provide further details.



Bishop tends to flock

By Stacy Milbouer
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 3, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=51745&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354

Nashua -- Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian came to the Parish of the Resurrection on Saturday to celebrate Mass, “to share in the pain” of parishioners who recently learned their former pastor was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor – and to declare that priests like the Rev. Albion Bulger “are not moral monsters.”

Before Mass began, Christian said both he and Bishop John McCormack felt it was important “to be here as soon as we could to share in your pain confusion . . . your anger.”

Christian was referring to the fact that Bulger, who served as pastor of the Parish of the Resurrection from 1991 to 2001, was named by the Diocese of Manchester as one of 14 New Hampshire priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors during a 24-year span that ended in 1987. That announcement came, at the attorney general’s request, on Feb. 15.

Ten of those priests served in Nashua-area churches at some time during their careers.

Christian filled the parish in on some details involving Bulger’s case that had not previously been released.

He told the congregation that “in July 2001 an adult came forward and made an allegation concerning activities with Father Bulger that happened sometime in 1975-76.

“It was the first the diocese had an allegation against Father Bulger,” he said.

According to official Catholic directories, Bulger was serving at St. Kathryn Church in Hudson from 1969 to 1975 and at Mary Queen of Peace Church in Salem from 1975 to 1990. He was ordained in 1956.

While Bulger told people he was retiring in the fall of 2001, and church directories listed him as retired, the diocese classified him as a priest who had his duties rescinded. Bulger could not be reached for comment since the list was released.

Christian told the congregation the diocese was not aware of any problems, “here at Resurrection.”

He went on to say that as is true in all cases, “we did a thorough investigation. People involved were interviewed. Father Bulger was interviewed and he willingly went through a psychiatric examination. The diocese concluded that the allegation was credible. That is not an admission we made easily or lightly.”

Christian went on to say that diocesan policy dictates “if there’s a substantial case . . . a priest cannot remain in the ministry.”

He said “the current state of understanding” about people who sexually abuse minors is that “it’s a problem that can be controlled but not cured.” He said like other compulsive behaviors such as alcohol or drug addiction, even if someone controls the behavior for years “there’s no guarantee that tomorrow there won’t be a slip. It’s for that reason, to err on the side of the victim” that action was taken.

“Obviously these . . . situations are tragic for the victims who carry scars their whole lives. This is a terrible betrayal . . . “

Christian urged the congregation to pray for the victims and to pray for the people of the church. “If you can’t bring your child to church and feel safe then where can you feel safe?”

The auxiliary bishop then asked for prayers for “all the priests who stand in pulpits week after week who don’t have the same problem. This problem, a compulsion for sexual misconduct with children – actually with minors, because (the victims) ranged all the way up to 18 – cuts all across society, it’s not just restricted to one group. Married men have had the same problem as some priests.

“The rest of us are painted under the same cloud of suspicion. I need you to pray that people don’t blame all priests. The vast majority are wonderful men who lay down their lives for you.”

Finally Christian asked parishioners to pray for the priests “who do have this problem. They are not moral monsters. They have a problem and that problem causes others to suffer. In our society we define people by their problems. Someone is a thief or a child abuser. Father Bulger did many wonderful things for all of you. He’s a dedicated man in many ways. We need to remember not just his problem, but all the good things he did.”

Christian concluded by saying the priority was children and that’s why action was taken against Bulger and the others.

“We need to make the church safe, as unlikely as this would be to surface again. Finally pray for the bishops. We’ve been accused of many things. Never did we try to cover up these problems.

“Did we make mistakes? Yes. We didn’t understand the problem fully 20 years ago.”

Christian said in retrospect the advice the diocese received from professionals at the time wasn’t right.

“That’s different than covering something up. But we have to live with it. Pray we make the right decision for everybody,” he said.

The auxiliary bishop also invited parishioners to come talk to him after Mass if they had concerns or questions and said that a new pastor would be named to the parish this summer.

In the same spirit of contrition, copies of a letter from Bishop McCormack were placed church bulletins throughout the state this weekend. McCormack sent out a similar letter right after the list of 14 priests was released.

The latest letter, dated March 2, expresses the bishop’s hope “that our anguish for the Church, the victims and for the priests accused does not cloud the faith we have in God and the respect and care people have for their local parish and priest.

“Knowing the grief and embarrassment you and I can feel for all these matters, there is a danger of feeling alone and not dealing with our anxieties . . . in a constructive way. I encourage you to talk to about your sentiments and feelings with other parishioners, with your parish priests and with friends. The more we are able to talk about our concerns, the more our wound now opened can be healed, then we will begin to experience needed support.



Task force to study priest allegations

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 3, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=51757&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354

Laconia, N.H. -- Investigators have organized a special task force to look into allegations that Catholic priests molested boys at a summer camp in New Hampshire.

Assistant Belknap County Attorney Rick St. Hilaire said the group includes representatives from his office, State Police and the Belknap County Sheriff’s Office.

St. Hilaire said the group will “look into any alleged wrongdoing and take in any kind of reports that come in,” but is “especially interested” in Camp Fatima because of reports by Massachusetts lawyers this week that they were involved in cases of priest child abuse there that had been settled.

Camp Fatima is an overnight summer camp for boys between the ages of 6-15, owned by the Diocese of Manchester.

St. Hilaire said he hopes media coverage about the investigation will lead possible victims to come forward.

Prosecutors have been looking into allegations of child sexual assaults by priests, after the diocese gave the attorney general’s office the names of 14 priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors between 1962 to 1987.

Meanwhile, a University of New Hampshire expert on crimes against children has been working with Catholic dioceses around the country to reduce the risk of child abuse by priests and other church employees.

David Finkelhor, director of UNH’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, said he has been serving as an advisor to the National Catholic Risk Retention Group for several years.

He says the church must perform better screening of priests and employees, educate its staff about abuse and implement clear policies about interaction with children and reporting suspected abuse.

“Everyone in the organization needs to be deputized to be on the lookout,” Finkelhor said.
Children also must be educated about how to prevent and report abuse, he said.

Finkelhor said the Manchester diocese is involved in the program.

Michael Bemi, chief executive officer of the program, said others, including Boston and Portland, Maine, are considering joining.



Secretive church panel met about abuse claims

By Maggie Mulvihill
Boston (MA) Herald
March 4, 2002

The workings of a secret "review board" composed of legal, psychological and church experts may become the center of the deepening Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal as victims' lawyers vowed to learn what the panel has done over the past nine years.

Attorneys said they want to subpoena the written reports submitted by the board to Cardinal Bernard Law since 1993, documents church officials acknowledge exist.

"I intend on investigating this situation thoroughly, including subpoenaing whatever documents are available relative to this board and examining individuals under oath," said Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing 86 alleged abuse victims of convicted child abuser and defrocked priest John J. Geoghan.

Despite repeated requests from the Herald, the church has yet to release any information about the unpaid board, including the names of both present and past members, the number of cases it has reviewed, the number of times it has met or any other details.

However, one source familiar with the board's work said it meets on average about 10 times a month.

Donna M. Morrissey, a spokeswoman for Law, said in a statement that the board's actions are intentionally kept quiet.

"The work of the review board, by its very nature, requires discretion on deeply personal matters," the statement said. "The members of the review board represent diverse disciplines and perspectives appropriate to make dispassionate and objective recommendations above outside bias, influence or threats. These individuals realize people's lives and reputations are at stake and they take their work very seriously."

But the church's secrecy is in direct contradiction to the cardinal's pledge for more openness on church sexual abuse cases, lawyers said.

The continued secrecy raises additional questions about what impact the board may have had in dealing with pedophile priests, lawyers said.

"I certainly have grave questions about whether or not the board was effective at all," said Robert A. Sherman, who with his law partner Roderick MacLeish have represented scores of clergy sexual abuse victims over the past decade, including those molested by former Catholic priest James Porter.

"In the cases that we have in suit, the workings of the review board is going to be a critical element that we are going to inquire about," he said.

Sherman and MacLeish both said they have heard very little about the board since 1993, when Law announced its establishment.

"Given the number of cases we have been involved in, it is troubling that we haven't heard anything about the work this board supposedly did," Sherman said.

Law set the board up as part of his new policy in 1993 to address concerns about the sexual abuse of minors committed by priests.

The members were directly appointed by Law and included, according to his 1993 public statement, "two diocesan priests, a deacon, a canon lawyer, a civil lawyer, a psychiatrist or psychologist, a social worker versed in cases of sexual misconduct and abuse, and two other persons who bring a particular sensitivity to this role." A church delegate would present allegations to the board during monthly meetings at the chancery, said one professional familiar the board. But neither the alleged victim nor the cleric were named.

The board was then charged with assessing the allegation and making a recommendation to the cardinal.

The initial delegates assigned by Law in 1993 to handle the complaints were the Rev. John B. McCormack and Sister Catherine E. Mulkerrin.

Currently, the appointed delegates are the Rev. Charles Higgins and Sister Rita McCarthy.

Law appointed the board members to a three-year term.

A source familiar with the board said the its makeup has changed since 1993. In January, Law called the panel an "interdisciplinary review board that examines each case and makes a recommedation to me."

"This review board includes the mother of a victim, another parent, a clinical social worker, a clinical psychologist, a psychotherapist, a retired justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, a priest, a civil attorney, and usually a canon lawyer," Law said.

Victims' attorneys also said they were surprised that no member of the board has ever publicly defended Law or that the church hasn't used the board to explain how and why it handled certain pedophilia cases.

"The fact that they have not tried to use it as a justification for some of the actions they have taken or haven't used it as a defense makes me suspect it wasn't all that effective," Garabedian said.

But the source familiar with the board's work in 1993 defended it. The board met regularly, reviewed a written protocol prepared by the church delegate on abuse allegations, discussed the situation and made recommendations to Law, the source said.

"I thought under the cover of anonymity, some pretty damaging stuff was part of the report made to us," he said. "We didn't have the names . . . and we would not have follow up. No one told us how good we were doing. It was entirely advisory."

The source also said, at least in the early years of the board's existence, cases of true pedophile priests presented to it were not the majority.

"My gut sense . . was that a true pedophile was a rare bird," he said.



Church explains reporting decision

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 8, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=52105

Concord, N.H. -- Bishop John McCormack was not required to give authorities the names of 14 Roman Catholic priests accused of molesting children, but did to bolster confidence in the church, a spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester says.

“He felt it was appropriate to demonstrate that we take the safety of children extremely seriously,” spokesman Patrick McGee said earlier this week.

McCormack reported the priests to the attorney general’s office last month following disclosures the Archdiocese of Boston failed to remove priests accused of repeated abuse.

A 1979 New Hampshire law specifically requires priests and other clergy to report suspected sexual abuse of children to authorities. Massachusetts has no such law, although one is expected to pass this year.

However, the Diocese of Manchester previously had not reported the 14 priests either because the accusations were made before 1979, or because the alleged victims were no longer children when the church learned of the abuse.

“The purpose of the statute is to protect children” by removing them from harm’s way, McGee said. If the victims were adults when they made the accusation, the reporting law did not apply, he said.

The diocese did report any priest whose alleged victim was still a minor, he said. The diocese does not face any sexual abuse lawsuits right now, but it has settled some complaints in the past, he said.



N.H. bishop was silent on accused priest

By Maggie Mulvihill and Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
March 15, 2002

The top Catholic cleric in New Hampshire, a one-time lieutenant to Bernard Cardinal Law, failed to warn a California diocese in 1985 that a former Archdiocese of Boston priest serving on the West Coast had been accused of committing abuse in Massachusetts.

The accused priest, Richard T. Coughlin, now 78, was banned by the Diocese of Orange, Calif., in 1993 over allegations he molested at least five boys, four from California and a fifth from Cape Cod - David Coleman, 54, of Eastham.

The New Hampshire cleric, Bishop John B. McCormack of the Diocese of Manchester, was Law's point man on clergy sexual abuse from the early 1980s to mid-1990, and handled cases involving notorious accused pedophile priests John J. Geoghan, Ronald H. Paquin and Robert V. Gale, among others.

Coleman says he warned McCormack about Coughlin during an hourlong meeting in 1985. He says he learned eight years later, to his dismay, that Coughlin was still working as a priest around Orange County - and was even leading a youth choir. He says he personally alerted the authorities in Orange, leading to Coughlin's dismissal.

"I just assumed they contacted California," Coleman, in an interview, said of his sitdown with McCormack. "I shouldn't have to tell them to go and do their duty."

Coleman, who has been in therapy since the late 1970s to deal with the effects of the abuse, said he was stunned to learn from officials in Orange in 1993 they had never been contacted by the Boston archdiocese about Coughlin, who served here for 12 years.

He says he contacted Msgr. John Urell at the Orange Diocese, where he received a far more immediate response to his report.

"He was a straight guy," Coleman said. "He asked me if I had reported Coughlin in Boston, and when I told him I had, he said they had never relayed the information. He was steamed. Here was this complaint in Boston, and he been completely left out of the loop."

According to Coleman and to California law enforcement officials familiar with the case, Urell suspended Coughlin within weeks of the call, after his diocese investigated allegations the priest had molested boys who joined the All-American Boys Chorus in Costa Mesa, a group he founded in 1970.

Urell declined to be interviewed yesterday. McCormack's spokesman, Patrick McGee, referred the matter to the Boston archdiocese.

But Det. Corinne Loomis, a Placentia, Calif., policer officer who has probed Coughlin, said she is outraged that Boston church officials like McCormack failed to alert the Orange Diocese on learning of Coughlin's abusive past.

"One has to always place blame, to use the words of the church, on a sin of omission," Loomis said. "It is certainly logical to assume that had they short-circuited him in Boston and dealt with Coleman, and at the very least given a heads-up to California about his predisposition towards young boys, he might not have been allowed to have any contact with kids at all."

McCormack has been the bishop of Manchester since 1998. He was strongly recommended to the post by Law after spending years advising the cardinal on how to handle sexual abusers among the clergy.

According to court records in the Geoghan case, McCormack was at the center of efforts to shift Geoghan to new parish work, and eventually to other paid clerical posts, despite voluminous evidence that Geoghan had molested children since the mid-1960s.

The documents also show that McCormack, 66, made similar arrangements for at least two other accused priests - Revs. Paquin and Gale. Gale, who has been suspended by the Boston archdiocese due to sex abuse charges, was even permitted to conduct a Mass at Camp Fatima, which is run by the Manchester Diocese, in 1999.

In 1998, Law praised McCormack's elevation to bishop of Manchester, citing his "customary graceful ease and a deep pastoral sensitivity to anyone who has called upon him." The diocese has 32,000 Catholics and 323 priests.

But according to Coleman, who plans to call Law today and ask to meet with him about the handling of the Coughlin case, McCormack should not be running any diocese.

"Anybody who had a complaint about a priest was referred to McCormack," he said. "McCormack was advising Law on these things. Anyone who has any kind of a role in the coverup of this . . . is not the sort of person to be in charge of supervising priests."

The archdiocese paid $90,000 for Coleman's therapy over the years, but recently notified him they could no longer afford to do so. It has also given Coughlin's name to law enforcement.

Coleman said Coughlin began to molest him when he was 9 and Coughlin was running the boy's basketball team at St. Patrick's in Stoneham. He also molested Coleman, now 54 and a freelance journalist based in Eastham, on camping trips to Lake George, N.Y., on a sightseeing trip to Manhattan, on a golf outing on the Cape and at the Margate Resort on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

"Why did God allow him to pick me? I don't know. I was a good little kid, but people like that are like wolves. They have a great sixth sense," Coleman said.

Coughlin, 78, was educated at St. John's Seminary in Brighton and is also accused by a Lynn man of molesting him at the Margate, in Laconia, N.H., in the early 1960s, according to Boston attorney Carmen L. Durso, who is handling the alleged victim's claim.

Loomis said yesterday Coughlin started the chorus for the purpose of "establishing a database of victims." The boys were between 9 and 11 and the abuse occurred in the late 1970s. But Loomis said she felt sure Coughlin continued abusing children long afterwards.

"He clearly is a pedophile by definition. He is someone whose sexual attraction is geared to and aimed at children under the age of 13," Loomis said. She said despite a lengthy investigation in California, criminal charges could not be brought against Coughlin because of statute of limitations problems and other technical issues.

"That's why I sent my files to Massachusetts. I just want another bite at the apple. My hope is that Massachusetts will be able to do what California could not and that is to hold Coughlin accountable for what he did to these children," she said.

The Orange diocese also has settled several civil lawsuits involving molestation committed by Coughlin, who, according to Loomis, still wears his priest collar around Placentia. Coughlin could not be reached for comment.

"I don't care if he was 105," said Loomis. "As long as this man had breath, if I can see him prosecuted, I will. I have handled child molestation cases for more than 10 eyars and I can unequivocally say I have not felt more passionate about any case I have ever worked than I do about this. I'd put him in jail myself if I could."



Report: Bishop didn’t warn church about abuse

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 16, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=52622

Manchester -- Bishop John McCormack did not warn a California diocese in 1985 that a priest sent to work in its state was accused of child abuse while serving in Massachusetts, according to a published report.

McCormack worked closely with Cardinal Bernard Law of the Boston Archdiocese before moving to the Manchester diocese in 1998.

The accused priest, Richard Coughlin, now 78, was banned by the Diocese of Orange, Calif., in 1993 over allegations he molested at least five boys, four from California and a fifth from Cape Cod in Massachusetts

The one from Cape Cod, David Coleman, now 54, of Eastham, Mass., told the Boston Herald in a story published Friday that he warned McCormack about Coughlin during an hourlong meeting in 1985.

He said he learned eight years later that Coughlin was still working as a priest around Orange County, Calif., and was even leading a youth choir. He says he personally alerted the authorities in Orange, leading to Coughlin’s dismissal.

“I just assumed they contacted California,” Coleman said. “I shouldn’t have to tell them to go and do their duty.”

According to Coleman and to California law enforcement officials familiar with the case, Monsignor John Urell of the Orange diocese suspended Coughlin within weeks of the call, after his diocese investigated allegations the priest had molested boys who joined the All-American Boys Chorus in Costa Mesa, Calif., a group he founded in 1970.

“He was a straight guy,” Coleman said of Urell. “He asked me if I had reported Coughlin in Boston, and when I told him I had, he said they had never relayed the information. He was steamed.”

Urell declined to be interviewed by the Herald. McCormack refused to comment through his spokesman, Patrick McGee, who referred the matter to the Boston archdiocese.

Detective Corinne Loomis, a Placentia, Calif., policer officer who has probed Coughlin, said she is outraged that Boston church officials such as McCormack failed to alert the Orange Diocese on learning of Coughlin’s abusive past.

Loomis said yesterday Coughlin started the chorus for the purpose of “establishing a database of victims.” The boys were between 9 and 11 and the abuse occurred in the late 1970s. Loomis said she felt sure Coughlin continued abusing children long afterward.

She said despite a lengthy investigation in California, criminal charges could not be brought against Coughlin because of statute of limitations problems and other technical issues.

McCormack has been the bishop of Manchester since 1998. He was strongly recommended to the post by Law after spending years advising the cardinal on how to handle sexual abusers among the clergy.

According to court records in the case of defrocked Massachusetts priest John Geoghan, McCormack was at the center of efforts to shift Geoghan to new parish work, and eventually to other paid clerical posts, despite voluminous evidence that Geoghan had molested children since the mid-1960s.

In February, Roman Catholic leaders in New Hampshire gave prosecutors the names of 14 priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors in New Hampshire during the quarter century that ended in 1987.

McCormack, at the time, acknowledged that some of the 14 were returned to duty after doctors deemed them fit, a practice he acknowledged was wrong.

A similar policy in the Boston archdiocese, also recently rescinded, has caused an uproar in Massachusetts that has included demands for Law’s resignation.



15th priest named as abuser by church

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 16, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=52609

The Diocese of Manchester has added the name of another priest to the list of Catholic clergy accused of sexual misconduct with minors.

Through an oversight, the Rev. John W. Nolin’s name was not included on a list of 14 priests given to the state attorney general’s office last month, the diocese announced Friday.

After reading the names of the 14 priests in media accounts, an individual contacted the diocese and asked why Nolin’s name was not included, diocesan spokesman Pat McGee said.

The individual filed an allegation against Nolin in 1994, McGee said. Nolin had his ministerial duties revoked that same year, he said.

“It was pure human error,” McGee said of the oversight. “We regret that it happened, but it did.”

The Rev. Edward J. Arsenault – a delegate to Bishop John McCormack – reviewed Nolin’s files after speaking with the individual and agreed the priest should have appeared on the list, McGee said.

The diocese has provided the attorney general the same information on Nolin as it did on the other 14 priests, McGee said. He would not specify what the information included.

As with the other priests, the diocese would not release Nolin’s pastoral history. But a review of the Official Catholic Directory – an annual informational survey of U.S. Catholic dioceses – indicates that Nolin may have been the pastor of St. Joseph Church in Woodsville, a town in the North Country on the Vermont border, when the allegation was made.

Ordained in 1960, Nolin served in Berlin from 1960 to 1962, St. Joseph Church in Salem from 1963 to 1964, Our Lady of the Mountains Church in North Conway from 1965 to 1968, and St. James Church in Portsmouth from 1969 to 1974.

Nolin then served as pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster from 1975 to 1981. The directory has Nolin listed as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Woodsville from 1982 to 1993, but he is not referenced in the yearbook covering 1994.

Nolin now lives in Albuquerque, N.M. He could not be reached by telephone.

Arsenault had first studied the priests’ files last month, when Attorney General Philip McLaughlin started talking with the diocese. But Arsenault and the diocese apparently missed Nolin when it made determinations on the other priests.

Seven of them already had their duties revoked sometime in the past. The other seven had still performed Mass – although six of them already had retired – after receiving clinical approval to return to parish life. Those priests lost their privileges Feb. 15.

On that day, the diocese said it would provide the attorney general with the cases of the priests the following week. But prosecutors did not receive the cases until nearly two weeks after the public announcement.

A Telegraph review earlier this month of the Official Catholic Directory revealed that 10 of the priests once served in the Nashua area. They included the Revs. Albion Bulger and Raymond Laferriere, who served in Nashua as pastors of Parish of the Resurrection and St. Louis de Gonzague, respectively.

The attorney general and county prosecutors will determine whether the 15 priests will face criminal charges. The statute of limitations on child sexual abuse varies greatly in New Hampshire, and the chances of the priests facing charges depends not only on the legitimacy of the accusations, but when the alleged offenses occurred.

Last week, the Rev. Marcel Martel told his parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Church that except for three alleged victims, the others who have filed charges against the 14 priests did so once they had reached adulthood.

Bulger had an allegation filed against him last year, Martel said, over an alleged incident that occurred about 20 years ago.

The diocese does not expect any further additions to the list of priests who had a credible accusation filed against them prior to Feb. 15, McGee said.

“Our intention was we wanted to be as clear as possible,” he said of the revision. “We want to correct that and fulfill our promises.”



Ex-California bishop: Priest warning never came

By Maggie Mulvihill
Boston (MA) Herald
March 17, 2002

The retired California bishop who suspended former Boston priest Richard T. Coughlin for sexual abuse in 1993 said yesterday he received no information from Boston that Coughlin had been accused of molesting a Bay State boy.

Bishop Norman McFarland's statement directly contradicts assertions late Friday by a former Boston cleric and confidante of Bernard Cardinal Law - Bishop John B. McCormack, now chief of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. - who claims he alerted a California diocese in 1986 that Coughlin has a history of pedophilia.

McFarland is the former bishop of Orange, Calif., where Coughlin ministered until his suspension for molesting choir boys in 1993.

"If there was something (in Coughlin's file) about Boston, I would have remembered," McFarland, who retired in 1998, said yesterday. McFarland personally suspended Coughlin in February 1993 after a number of men came forward - including David Coleman, 54, of Eastham - claiming they had been sexually abused by Coughlin dating back to the 1950s.

The Herald reported Friday that McCormack met with Coleman in November 1985 to discuss the molestation allegations, but failed to forward any information to California, where Coughlin had relocated in 1965 and where he preyed on boys until at least 1993.

McCormack has refused to comment, but issued a press release late Friday asserting that he had in fact passed word of Coughlin on to his Catholic colleagues in California - allegedly via another former Archdiocese of Boston clerical official about six months after his initial meeting with Coleman.

The statement did not name that official, claiming only that "a record" supported McCormack. The record was not supplied. An aide to McCormack refused to provide the name of the former Boston cleric who allegedly called the California diocese about Coughlin.

"I doubt you are going to get any records," Patrick McGee, McCormack's spokesman, said yesterday. "We're going to stand by the statement we released. It is what it is."

But McFarland said yesterday if any information about Coughlin abusing boys had been relayed to Orange Diocese officials from Boston in 1986, as McCormack claims, it would not have been ignored.

In fact, Orange officials suspended Coughlin in 1993, just weeks after Coleman and others contacted the diocese to say Coughlin molested them as boys.

At that time, several officials in Orange, including Msgr. John Urell, said they had no record of any referral by McCormack or another Boston chancery official about abuse claims against Coughlin. A California detective who has probed Coughlin also said she knew of no such record.

Urell and former Bishop John T. Steinbock, whom McCormack also has claimed in the past was contacted, did not return several phone calls from the Herald.

McFarland was Orange bishop between 1987 and 1998. Yesterday, he defended Urell and Steinbock's vows they were not contacted by Boston about Coughlin.

"I have the utmost confidence they wouldn't lie and say they were notified if they weren't. They are really good, honest people," McFarland, 80, said. "If a phone call came in from another diocese saying this man had been accused of abuse in Boston and he was in Orange and in contact with children," it would have been immediately investigated.

Coughlin, now 78, could not be reached for comment. The diocese of Orange has settled numerous civil suits for sexual abuse against him since 1993. Coughlin worked in Boston area parishes from 1958 until 1965. He is on a list of suspected pedophile priests recently forwarded by Law to Massachusetts law enforcement for possible prosecution.

Tom Mashberg contributed to this report.



Prosecutor getting calls on alleged abuse

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 19, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=52822

Laconia, N.H. -- Several people have called the Belknap County attorney’s office to report that they were sexually molested by priests at a Roman Catholic summer camp for boys.

County Attorney Lauren Noether is starting to investigate whether Massachusetts priests molested children at Camp Fatima in Gilmanton Iron Works, she told The Eagle-Tribune in Monday’s editions.

“It’s an open timeline because people come forward when they are ready to come forward and I understand that,” Noether said. She would not say how many people had contacted her office.

Lawyers for people suing the Archdiocese of Boston have said their clients were molested by priests who took them to the camp to serve as volunteer “waiters” during the 1970s.

Patrick McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester, which runs the camp’s regular session, said the staff is screened and children who attend are safe. No one has reported any abuse to the diocese, he said.



Suit names archdiocese, N.H. bishop; Says church failed to halt abuse by priest; Lawsuit to name N.H. bishop

By Sacha Pfeiffer
Boston (MA) Globe
March 24, 2002

A former Salem man who alleges he was sexually molested hundreds of times by a parish priest in the 1960s said that Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., who was assigned to the same Salem parish at the time, saw the priest taking him to his rectory bedroom and did nothing to stop it.

McCormack, who was an auxiliary bishop in Boston under Cardinal Bernard F. Law, said through a spokesman the allegation by James Hogan is false. But in response to Globe inquiries, he acknowledged that he was warned more than 30 years ago that the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham was molesting children at St. James parish in Salem.

Thomas Blanchette, another man who alleges that Birmingham molested him in the 1960s, said he approached Law at Birmingham's funeral in 1989 and told him about the abuse. Blanchette said Law silently prayed for him, but then instructed him to keep the information secret.

"He laid his hands on my head for two or three minutes," Blanchette, who said his four brothers were also molested by Birmingham, said of Law. "And then he said this: `I bind you by the power of the confessional never to speak about this to anyone else.' And that just burned me big-time. . . . I didn't ask him to hear my confession. I went there to inform him."

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Boston, Donna M. Morrissey, said yesterday that Law has "a vague recollection of such an encounter" but "no memory of the words exchanged." Morrissey added that "it is inconceivable to him, however, that he would ever have counseled someone never to speak of what they have suffered."

Law is willing to meet with Blanchette "to clarify any misunderstanding," Morrissey said.

During his three decades as a priest, Birmingham, who died at age 55, served in six parishes and as juvenile court chaplain of Brighton Municipal Court, and allegedly left a trail of victims behind: Five men have told the Globe they were sexually abused by Birmingham beginning in the 1960s and as late as the 1980s - including one who received a $60,000 settlement from the archdiocese in 1996.

Boston lawyer Robert A. Sherman, who represents Hogan, called Birmingham's history of alleged molestation "one of the worst cases in terms of the amount of abuse" he has encountered in a decade of representing victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Said Sherman: "This is a priest who the archdiocese should have put in jail, but instead they moved him to other parishes . . . where my fear is there's going to be a trail of victims that will approach the numbers we saw for Father [John] Geoghan and Father [James] Porter."

Sherman said he will file a lawsuit tomorrow on Hogan's behalf. The suit will name as defendants the Boston Archdiocese and McCormack, who was a seminary classmate of Birmingham.

In 1970, Birmingham was transferred from St. James in Salem, where he and McCormack served together, to St. Michael in Lowell. Birmingham had yet another assignment at St. Columbkille in Brighton before he was promoted to pastor of St. Ann in Gloucester in 1985. His last assignment before his death was at St. Brigid in Lexington.

When Birmingham was promoted to pastor in Gloucester in 1985, McCormack was cabinet secretary for ministerial personnel for the Boston Archdiocese. But he said in the statement that he did not have "direct" responsibility for assigning priests, including Birmingham.

From 1992 to 1995 - after Birmingham's death - McCormack handled sex abuse complaints for the archdiocese. McCormack was promoted to auxiliary bishop in 1995. He has been bishop of the Manchester diocese since 1998.

McCormack and Birmingham, who were ordained in 1960, served together in the 1960s at St. James. That is where Paul Cultrera, the victim who received the $60,000 settlement, said Birmingham began molesting him when he was a high school freshman in 1963 or 1964.

Cultrera, a former altar boy who is now 52 and lives in Sacramento, Calif., did not tell church officials or his parents about the abuse until the mid-1990s. "I didn't want anyone to know this about me," he said.

Hogan, 47, who lives in Wilmington, Del., described a pattern of sexual abuse spanning four years in the late 1960s when he was a grammar school student at St. James parochial school. He said Birmingham would call him out of class and into a nearby conference room, where he would fondle him.

Hogan's father, a leather salesman, was a church lector and a member of the parish school board. Once, Hogan said, Birmingham visited their home, sat next to him on the couch, and put his arm around him as he chatted easily with Hogan's parents.

"Then I went upstairs to bed and he would come up and abuse me there," Hogan said.

Hogan said he is certain McCormack, who was then assigned to the parish with Birmingham, knew that he was a frequent visitor to Birmingham's bedroom upstairs at the rectory.

"I just don't understand why McCormack didn't say anything to my father and let this go on for the four years that it went on for."

Hogan said he does not recall speaking directly with McCormack upstairs at the rectory. "I remember him talking to Joe Birmingham there. He would see Joe Birmingham walk me up to his bedroom. And then I'd be in the bedroom while [Birmingham] went and got ice cream. Believe me, [McCormack] definitely saw me there."

Patrick McGee, a spokesman for the Manchester diocese, said that McCormack, "to the best of his recollection, never saw anyone being taken into Father Birming ham's quarters."

Sherman, of the Boston law firm Greenberg Traurig, said McCormack's alleged failure to intervene to stop Birmingham permitted the priest to have a "20-year career with access to young boys. If Bishop McCormack had taken action when he was informed of this in the late 1960s there are untold people - children - whose well-being could have been saved."

Hogan estimated that he was abused hundreds of times, including during ski trips to Mount Snow and Killington and during a trip as an eighth-grader to Arizona, Nevada, and California. "He had oral sex with me. . . . He had me touch him. It was just total, absolute abuse," he said.

Hogan's father died in 1981. But years before that, he asked his son whether he had been abused. Embarrassed and in denial, Hogan said he falsely assured his father he had not been touched by the priest.

"I never said anything to any of my friends about it," Hogan said. "I know there were other people in my class that he was bothering."

Hogan moved to Delaware in 1988 and said the alleged abuse eroded his self-confidence, distracted him from his education, and hampered his ability to form emotional relationships. He married for the first time in 1999 and divorced late last year. He is the father of a 20-month-old son.

He said he feels betrayed by McCormack's silence. "I really feel that it was a real stab in the back," Hogan said.

Before his assignment to Salem, Birmingham's first parish was Our Lady of Fatima in Sudbury in the early 1960s. It was there that the newly ordained priest allegedly abused Thomas Blanchette and his four brothers.

Blanchette said none of the brothers knew at the time that the others were being abused. Blanchette, 54, estimated Birmingham abused him numerous times, attacks that he said included attempted rape.

Now an independent contractor living on Martha's Vineyard, Blanchette said he sought out Birmingham in the late 1980s just before the priest died. He found him at a rectory in Lexington.

"I began with a litany of names of kids I knew in Sudbury that he abused," said Blanchette. "With a sense of genuine righteousness, I told him that what you did to us, and to me specifically, was wrong and you had no right to do that."

Then when Blanchette asked Birmingham to forgive him for the hatred and resentment he held against the priest for nearly 30 years, he said Birmingham dissolved into tears.

Blanchette said he attended Birmingham's April 1989 funeral Mass, which was celebrated by Law, and met Law afterward during a reception in the church basement.

"I said there's a lot of young men in the diocese who will be in need of counseling in the wake of their relationship with Father Birmingham," Blanchette said he told Law. "He said, `What are you driving at?' "

Blanchette said when he told Law about the scores of boys allegedly abused by Birmingham, Law asked if he could pray for Blanchette. That is when, he said, Law laid hands on his head and invoked the secrecy of the confessional.

In an interview on Friday, Blanchette said he believes Law's first impulse when they met was "to minimize damage. I think it's all about damage control."

Questioned about the alleged incident yesterday, Morrissey, the archdiocesan spokeswoman, said the following:

"While Cardinal Law has a vague recollection of such an encounter, he has no memory of the words exchanged. It is inconceivable to him, however, that he would ever have counseled someone never to speak of what they have suffered. This would fly in the face of the cardinal's pastoral response to those dealing with profound personal issues.

"A chance encounter cannot take the place of ongoing pastoral counseling, much less take the place of psychological counseling. Cardinal Law is willing to meet with Mr. Blanchette to pursue this matter personally and to clarify any misunderstanding which may exist."

Joseph A. Favalora of New York City, David P. Venne of Portland, Maine, and James Davin of Merrimack, N.H., also told the Globe they were abused by Birmingham - Favalora in Gloucester, Venne and Davin in Sudbury.
Favalora, 31, said he was molested by Birmingham at the St. Ann rectory in 1986. Favalora said the abuse happened only once.

Venne, 52, said he was molested at age 12 by Birmingham 40 years ago. Venne said he and other children went to Nantasket Beach with Birmingham in June 1962. Venne said he grew ill after eating cotton candy and taking too many rides at Paragon Park.

"Father Birmingham took me to his car and he said to lay down in the back seat," Venne said. "I was half passed out. When I woke up, he was rubbing my stomach and then he undid my pants and he fondled me." Venne said he never told his parents or confronted Birmingham about his conduct.

Davin, 51, said he was molested over several years by Birmingham in the early 1960s, beginning when he was 11. A former altar boy, he said he considered but never pursued a lawsuit over the molestation.

Hogan said he is filing his lawsuit because as a new father he wants to do everything he can to stop sexual abuse.

"This is giving the church a black eye," he said. "I decided to come forward and protect my son and let them know that they can't do this."

Three decades ago, Salem parents pleaded with McCormack and others to protect their children.

In the statement he issued on Thursday, McCormack said he "does recall parents complaining about Fr. Birmingham" while McCormack was serving as regional director of Catholic Charities in Salem about 1970. He said he referred the parents to "the pastor of the parish who was responsible for Fr. Birmingham's ministry."

Mary McGee, one of the parents who said she complained to McCormack after learning that her son had been groped and several of his friends had been molested by Birmingham, expressed frustration that nothing was done.

In an interview, McGee said she and other Salem mothers went to archdiocesan headquarters in Brighton to complain, to no avail. It was then, she said, that she sought out McCormack.

"What burns me is Fr. McCormack knew about this and what they do is move McCormack up the ladder, and Father Birmingham gets made pastor in Gloucester," said McGee, who is no relation to McCormack's spokesman. "Now that is sick. That's sick."

"What I know now is that I should have gone to the police," said McGee. "But I thought I'd go to the church and I thought the church would would take care of it."



NH bishop says he’s meeting with victims of child sex abuse

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
March 28, 2002

http://www.theunionleader.com/church_show.html?article=9939

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack has met with several victims of the 15 New Hampshire priests accused of child sexual abuse and said much work needs to be done to repair the damage the crisis has caused the Catholic church.

[Photo caption: Bishop John B. McCormack]

“They come to me as bishop because they really want to be sure the church is hearing the pain, and the complaint and the concern of a person who has been victimized by a priest,” McCormack said in an interview at the chancery yesterday.

The bishop said he has met with two victims in the last few weeks at their request. He will meet with a third shortly.

“It takes courage on their part to hope a bishop is going to listen and understand,” he explained.

“I would like to try to help them realize that I will do my best to assure them this doesn’t happen again in our church,” he said.

“You try to make them realize it wasn’t their fault,” he added.

He said he also wants to make sure victims of clerical sexual abuse get the help they need and to ask them to look at their relationship to God and the church.

“Sometimes it’s clouded, it’s scarred and even, to some degree, hurt,” he said.

In his first press interview since he turned over the names of 14 priests accused of past child sexual misconduct to the New Hampshire Attorney General Feb. 15, McCormack said the current crisis facing the Catholic church also has caused him to review his and the church’s handling of it.

“I’ve anguished about this,” McCormack, 66, said.

His goal is to be a “good pastor to the diocese” by helping its people, priests, victims and children.

“I want to be their shepherd. I want to help them acknowledge the difficulties. I want to help victims move toward greater healing. I want to make sure that everything that I do is just, fair and helpful,” he continued.

“Have I always done as much as I could do? You revisit and then you determine to learn to move on,” added McCormack, who was Cardinal Bernard F. Law’s point man on clerical sexual misconduct in the Boston archdiocese during the early 1990s before becoming ninth bishop of Manchester in 1998.

“It’s clear that we haven’t done enough. We have to do more to ensure that this doesn’t happen,” he said.

Under the diocese’s sexual misconduct policy, a priest faced with a credible allegation of sexual misconduct involving a minor is removed from active ministry.

This policy also applies to staff and volunteers working in parishes, schools and other Catholic institutions.

The public also is notified of the accusation. And the diocese complies with the state’s mandatory child abuse and neglect reporting laws.

The diocese turned over the names of 14 priests accused of sexual misconduct from 1963 to 1987 to the attorney general Feb. 15 for possible criminal prosecution. The name of a 15th priest was added a few days later. All had their pastoral ministries revoked.

Most of the 15 priests had one victim accuse them of sexual misconduct, McCormack said.

The diocese placed a 16th priest on administrative leave this month after the attorney general’s office received an independent allegation that that priest molested a minor in the early 1980s.

“There are no priests assigned to ministry who have had a credible allegation made about them regarding sexual contact with a minor,” McCormack said.

“I can assure the Catholics of our diocese that this is my intention and it is our diocesan policy,” he added.

He also said there has never been a priest in the Manchester diocese who was a serial sexual offender with multiple victims.

“To my knowledge, I don’t know of anyone with that background,” he said.

The diocese has reached civil settlements with sexual abuse victims during the last 35 years, but McCormack would not say how many.

Most settlements were mutually agreed upon and most, if not all, were in the “tens of thousands of dollars,” he added.

McCormack said he supports Cardinal Law, who has received numerous calls to resign and repeatedly apologized for his handling of former Massachusetts priest John J. Geoghan.

Geoghan has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 130 children over three decades and convicted Jan. 18 of molesting one boy.

“I personally would support (Law) in remaining as the Archbishop of Boston. He was sent there by the Holy Father and his role as archbishop is one of ministry to his people,” McCormack said.

“It’s more than just a job. It’s a relationship he has with his people as shepherd,” he explained.

McCormack was named as a defendant in a civil suit filed in Boston Monday for allegedly allowing a former Salem, Mass., priest sexually molest a boy in the parish during the 1960s.

McCormack was serving in St. James parish in Salem, Mass., during the same time as the Rev. Joseph Birmingham.

The suit alleges Birmingham repeatedly sexually molested James M. Hogan for several years and McCormack saw Birmingham bring the boy to his rectory bedroom and close the door, but did nothing about it.

McCormack has said he saw nothing occur between Birmingham and Hogan to arouse suspicion or concern and does not recall Birmingham behaving inappropriately or abusively toward Hogan or anyone else.

But he does recall a group of parents telling him in the 1970s that Birmingham was molesting children. McCormack was working at North Shore Catholic Charities and was a full-time Boston College graduate student at the time.

Asked why he didn’t stop Birmingham when parents made their complaint, McCormack said yesterday: “I did take action to stop him. I told the parents to speak to the pastor at that time. I saw that as an appropriate way of handling this concern. This is back in the late 1960s or early 1970s.”

That was the only clerical sexual misconduct complaint he said received until he became secretary of ministerial personnel in late 1984.

“I don’t recall ever receiving a complaint about a priest regarding sexual misconduct with a minor outside of the report parents made to me about Father Birmingham,” he said.

McCormack said he was not involved in Geoghan’s transfer to St. Julia’s parish in Weston in 1984, even after Geoghan had been removed from two other parishes after being accused of molesting children.

McCormack was a defendant in several civil lawsuits brought by Geoghan’s victims in Massachusetts. When questioned under oath during a deposition last year, he said he first learned of allegations against Geoghan after 1992 when more than 100 people came forward with sexual abuse charges against former Fall River priest James R. Porter.

McCormack said much work needs to be done to assure New Hampshire parents of the diocese’s intent to provide their children with a safe environment.

The diocese has embarked on a program to train everyone who serves in the church about sexual abuse issues and how to respond to them.

And he wants to assure New Hampshire Catholics that future priests will be “well screened to the best of our ability before they are accepted as men for ordination.”

“This is a serious matter in that it has affected the lives of everyone. We need to face it and deal with it,” McCormack added.

“But, in so doing, we will be holier people because we will be dealing with the reality of people’s lives and asking the Lord to help us become more whole,” he explained.

“We believe that evil does not conquer us . . . that good overcomes evil,” he said



 
 

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