Manchester NH Resources
By Associated Press
Concord, N.H. -- The number of clergymen accused of sexual abuse in New Hampshire has grown to 40 as authorities receive new information almost daily, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
In February and March, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester released the names of 15 priests accused of sexual misconduct toward children over a 25-year period ending in 1987.
State prosecutors, on their own, since have spoken with other accusers and gathered information on 21 more priests, three members of a religious order that runs Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua and a member of a religious order in Massachusetts, said Assistant Attorney General Will Delker.
Seven of those accused worked in Massachusetts but are alleged to have committed offenses in New Hampshire, Delker said. Four of the 40 are dead. It’s not clear if any are active priests, though the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester has said no one against whom it has received a credible allegation is active.
Delker would not say if three priests named in civil lawsuits filed Monday in Manchester are among the 40. None of the new names has been released to the public. The diocese did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday.
Once the attorney general’s office goes through new reports and other information, it gives it to county attorneys, who will decide if any charges are to be filed, Delker said.
A handful of county attorneys contacted Wednesday said they are weeks away from deciding whether to file charges. In most cases, it would be too late to prosecute, they said.
Delker said his office has not discussed possible federal charges with federal prosecutors, who routinely decline to comment on their investigations.
Federal racketeering statutes allow prosecutors to cite patterns of behavior
to prove criminal intent. But the law probably could not be used against
church higher-ups for covering up for a pedophile priest, legal experts
By Stephen Kurkjian and Walter V. Robinson
Haverhill -- It was three years before Jimmy Francis died a horrible death in 1981 that Robert P. Bartlett complained to the pastor of St. Monica's Church in Methuen that the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin had molested Bartlett and other teenage boys.
It was in December 1980, less than a year before Francis's death on a New Hampshire highway, that Bartlett said the pastor, the Rev. Allen E. Roche, told him he had taken care of the matter.
In April 1981, Paquin was removed from St. Monica's and sent by the Archdiocese of Boston, which appears to have known about the molestations, to minister to parishioners at St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill.
In November 1981, Jimmy Francis was 16, returning in the pre-dawn hours from a New Hampshire outing with Paquin and three other boys from the Haverhill parish when their car rolled over on Interstate 93, ostensibly because the road was icy. Francis was pinned beneath the car and died of asphyxiation.
But according to a Boston Globe Spotlight Team inquiry and a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed today, the road was not icy at all. Paquin had been drinking heavily and fell asleep at the wheel. And just a few hours earlier, Paquin had crawled into Jimmy Francis's sleeping bag and molested him, according to the lawsuit.
The widening sex abuse scandal that has enveloped the archdiocese includes a growing number of adult victims who are still shaking off the effects of the abuse they suffered at the hands of priests when they were minors.
But James Francis is the first person believed to have died as a result of the alleged misbehavior of a priest. What's more, another priest who talked to Roche and a retired Methuen police detective said they believe the archdiocese was aware of Paquin's sexual abuse when they transferred him to Haverhill.
''It's a tough thing, to find out about all this 20 years later,'' Francis's mother, Sheila, said this week. ''It's like a death all over again.''
Her son's death did nothing to stem Paquin's sexual appetite for boys. Nine years after Francis was buried, Paquin was removed from St. John's, but only after an intensive effort by the Rev. Frederick E. Sweeney. Sweeney began hearing complaints about Paquin's behavior soon after he arrived at the parish to be pastor in 1989.
Although Sweeney declined to be interviewed, those familiar with his account said that top deputies to Cardinal Bernard F. Law initially turned aside his pleas that something be done.
The Globe reported last month that three years after Paquin's removal in 1990, he was living in a Milton facility where the archdiocese sequestered priests who had molested children, and was repeatedly having sex at the facility with a teenage boy he had begun molesting in 1988, according to another lawsuit.
In a January interview, Paquin admitted that he had molested young boys at both parishes, but denied that Jimmy Francis was among them or that he was inebriated at the time of the car crash. In the 1990s, the archdiocese made monetary settlements to settle several sexual abuse claims against Paquin. Eight additional lawsuits have been filed recently.
In the last week, Paquin, who is now 59 and retired, did not return calls or respond to a letter left at his Malden home. Donna M. Morrissey, the archdiocesan spokeswoman, said last night that she could not comment on the issue because there is pending litigation.
Jeffrey A. Newman, the attorney representing the parents, Sheila and Harold Francis, asserted in the lawsuit that the archdiocese ''breached'' its duty to the parents by allowing Paquin, ''a known pedophile who had engaged in predatory sex with minors in his parish, to remain a priest where he could continue to prey upon children to satisfy his unbridled sexual desires.''
By the accounts of Bartlett and others, Paquin should have been stopped two decades earlier.
Bartlett, 37, of Methuen, said he told Roche about 1978 that Paquin was fondling two other teenagers who had just entered Paquin's upstairs rectory bedroom. In an interview, Bartlett said he told Roche that he knew Paquin was molesting the boys ''`because it just happened to me.' ... Father Roche stormed upstairs and I left.''
Two years later, around Christmas 1980, Bartlett said, Roche approached him as he was about to enter the church for a Sunday Mass and told him that he had taken care of the matter ''right away.'' Bartlett, who said he was molested by Paquin numerous times over six years during the 1970s, is one of at least four men who have won settlements from the archdiocese in recent years for Paquin's abuse.
Roche, who died in 1998, did not tell Bartlett what he had done with the information. But two individuals - another priest at St. Monica's and the Methuen police officer in charge of sexual assaults - told the Globe last week that they believe Roche relayed the complaints to the archdiocese.
The Rev. James M. Carroll, who served at St. Monica's as an associate pastor from 1980 and 1992, said he told Roche in the mid-1980s that a parishioner had told him that Paquin had been molesting youths while assigned to the Methuen church.
''Fr. Roche told me that he had already taken care of it,'' Carroll said. Although Roche did not spell out what action he had taken, Carroll said: ''To me that meant he had informed the archdiocese.''
William E. Rayno, who headed the sexual assault unit of the Methuen Police Department, said he never spoke directly to Roche about it, but he heard from others that Roche informed the archdiocese on two occasions about credible allegations of inappropriate conduct by Paquin.
Not long after Paquin was transferred to Haverhill in 1981, Harold Francis recalled earlier this year, he became suspicious about the priest and asked his son if the priest had touched him. No, Jimmy told him.
But that Thanksgiving weekend in 1981, Paquin took Jimmy Francis and three younger boys from the parish in his Lincoln Continental to a chalet in Bethlehem, N.H., where he gave the boys liquor. According to the lawsuit, and accounts provided to the Globe, at least one of the others who was there saw Paquin crawl into Francis's sleeping bag. The boy, now fully grown, asked not to be identified.
Paquin and the boys were drinking until 1 or 2 in the morning, and left to return to Massachusetts within a few hours. According to Sheila Francis, the same witness told her last Sunday that Paquin twice fell asleep at the wheel. The second time, she said, Francis grabbed the wheel in a futile attempt to keep the car from going off the road.
He died, pinned under the car in Tilton, N.H. One of the three other boys was seriously injured. Paquin and the remaining two boys escaped with minor injuries.
''The truth hurts, and now the grieving has begun again,'' Sheila Francis said. To learn now that the church apparently knew about Paquin but still sent him to Haverhill, she said, ''shatters my faith.''
Paquin said the funeral Mass several days later.
When Sweeney arrived at St. John's eight years later, he soon discovered that Paquin was still molesting boys, according to sources familiar with Sweeney's account.
Sweeney relayed to Bishop Alfred C. Hughes, then head of the archdiocese's parishes in the Merrimack region, that several parishioners had told him their concerns, the sources said. Paquin was spending too much free time with youths, taking them out to dinner, spending weekends with them on the Cape and New Hampshire, and paying them for routine jobs, Sweeney told Hughes.
Hughes's response to Sweeney: Provide me someone who will make a formal complaint. Hughes, who is now archbishop of New Orleans, did not respond this week to questions.
After consulting his brother, a judge, Sweeney located his witness. Through the intervention of a parishioner, a man in his early 20s told Sweeney that he had been molested by Paquin on numerous occasions starting in 1982.
The first incident took place that February, less than three months after the accident. And Paquin used his sadness over the Francis's death to coax the youth into his bed at the rectory, said the alleged victim, who asked that his name not be used.
Sweeney again called Hughes, who told him to contact the Rev. John B. McCormack, then head of ministerial services for the archdiocese. A meeting was quickly arranged at a nearby church between McCormack, the youth, and his parishioner friend.
McCormack, who is now the bishop of the diocese in Manchester, N.H.,
declined to be interviewed, but said through a spokesman that he could
not recall the meeting.
''I told him, `I want to tell you about the priest who abused me and many, many others,''' said the Haverhill man. ''I told him he was buying liquor for kids, letting them drive his car underaged, taking them to New Hampshire and the Cape, and all to molest them.''
McCormack appeared unfazed by the information and, according to the young man, said to him after 20 minutes, ''How much are you looking for?'' He said the question left him stunned, since he merely wanted McCormack to have Paquin removed from the priesthood or at least placed in a position where he did not have access to minors.
If Paquin were kept in place, the alleged victim said he told McCormack, he would take his information to the local newspaper. That got McCormack's attention: ''Consider it done, boys,'' he said, according to the Haverhill man.
Within weeks, Paquin was sent for four months to Maryland's St. Luke Center, a Catholic treatment facility for priests with sexual problems. But when Paquin returned, he was assigned as a chaplain at Bon Secours Hospital in Methuen. And he was living in a rectory at St. Joseph in Lincoln.
Sweeney was furious when he learned that the archdiocese had sent Paquin to work so close to the two churches where he allegedly abused youths for nearly 20 years, according to individuals familiar with the case. They said Sweeney protested to church superiors and within weeks, Paquin was put on sick leave and sent to live at the facility for priests in Milton.
However, before Paquin left, Bartlett, one of the several youths he had
abused at St. Monica's in Methuen, encountered him at the hospital. ''I
told him that what he had done sickened me,'' Bartlett recalled. ''He
didn't seem bothered at all. He just looked at me and said, `It felt good,
By Jonathan Van Fleet
Manchester -- In a lawsuit filed Wednesday afternoon, a Londonderry man accused a former priest of sexually abusing him when he was an altar boy, and invited others with similar accusations to join his case.
Instead of filing an independent lawsuit, Craig Galluzzo and his attorneys filed a class action lawsuit inviting others – whether they have come forward or not – who allege they were victimized by priests or employees of the Diocese of Manchester to join the lawsuit.
In all, there may be 150 people or more who could be potential plaintiffs, said Manchester attorney Peter Hutchins, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Galluzzo, 41.
Not only does the lawsuit identify potentially hundreds of plaintiffs who may have been sexually abused, it also alleges that the diocese and the bishop hid the names of offending priests and failed to investigate and report sexual abuse to appropriate authorities.
The lawsuit, filed at Hillsborough County Superior Court, accuses the Rev. Robert J. Densmore of sexually abusing Galluzzo at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in New London.
Galluzzo has suffered emotionally and financially from the abuse, the lawsuit claims, and seeks damages in return. Galluzzo realizes the lawsuit and the attention it draws may change his life, but he hopes for the better, Hutchins said.
“He’s doing it because it happened to him,” Hutchins said. “It messed him up and he feels the people who did this to him should be held responsible.”
Hutchins, the president of the New Hampshire Bar Association, said a class action suit made sense for the victims and the church alike.
“I honestly believe in my heart that Bishop (John B.) McCormack and the other priests who had nothing to do with this want to put this behind them and do the right thing,” Hutchins said. “That’s hard to do when you have 50 different bullets coming at you.”
Before the class action can go forward, the court must approve it. Part of that process will be determining if the plaintiffs create a large enough group for a class action.
If it goes forward, Hutchins and his partners plan to contact all of the people who have made direct allegations of sexual abuse against priests. The partners plan to get the names through the diocese by order of the court. They will also take out advertisements in newspapers to identify the lawsuit to others who may have been abused.
The lawsuit could be a way for dozens of individuals to come forward without the public splash of suing individually, Hutchins said. Those who already have lawyers can have their counsel join the case, too, he added.
Hutchins said the case could go through the similar process of discovery as a recent case in Massachusetts, in which hundreds of documents were released by the Boston Archdiocese showed a pattern among church officials of shuffling priests between parishes despite allegations of sexual abuse against them.
This lawsuit accuses the Roman Catholic Church of concealing abuse allegations against numerous priests for decades and creating an environment of intimidation in which boys were afraid to report the assaults.
It wasn’t until February, the lawsuit says, that the diocese began to release names of accused priests, even though allegations against the priests dated to the early 1960s. Densmore was on the list released in February.
The lawsuit also alleges the Diocese of Manchester had no screening, training or supervision of its priests to prevent or discourage sexual abuse. Nor did the church have an effective policy for those who were abused to report “without fear of reprisal, embarrassment or rejection,” the lawsuit states. “People who had been abused had nowhere to go and the offenders didn’t think they’d be punished,” Hutchins said. “It’s like a double whammy.”
The lawsuit claims the diocese was negligent in its selection of priests, its failure to investigate and report to appropriate authorities instances of sexual abuse and its failure to protect the victims from abuse.
There are already nearly 20 people named in lawsuits in the state. It’s reasonable to believe there are many more people who have yet to come forward, Hutchins said.
The lawsuit will attempt to prove the allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up and seeks a jury trial.
As a practicing Catholic, Hutchins said it took some soul-searching to file this lawsuit. He said he decided to take the case because he is confident it’s the right thing to do. It will help restore those who have been abused and perhaps give some strength to those who have not yet come forward, Hutchins said.
“There are a lot of people who may not have had the strength and
the psychological ability to come forward.” Hutchins said. “I
think this will facilitate people to come forward and gave their rights
By Sacha Pfeiffer
Peter Pollard still feels the sting of it.
In 1988, several weeks after Pollard reported his alleged sexual abuse by the Rev. George Rosenkranz to the Archdiocese of Boston, the church official who handled abuse complaints said he found nothing to justify removing the priest from ministry.
The Rev. John B. McCormack, now bishop of Manchester, N.H., said Rosenkranz merely had ''sexual issues,'' adding that what Pollard viewed as abuse - acts that included Rosenkranz's request that he masturbate in front of him - may simply have been expressions of affection, according to Pollard.
''I was stunned,'' Pollard said. ''I couldn't reconcile what he was saying with what I told him.''
Although the public's anger over the clergy sex abuse crisis shaking the Boston archdiocese has focused on Cardinal Bernard F. Law, McCormack's letters and reported remarks highlight a key reality: It was also Law's lieutenants who, whether acting on his behalf or responding to his orders, often supported abusive priests and dismissed their victims.
Although McCormack may be the most stark example, he is only one in a long line of subordinates whose solicitous treatment of admitted sex offenders contrasts sharply with their casual attitude toward victims who came to them for help.
The names and signatures of Bishops Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn and Robert J. Banks of Green Bay, Wis., who were top deputies under Law, also feature prominently in thousands of church documents recently made public in Boston.
All three went on to prominent positions within the church. Their actions
and career trajectories raise new questions about the roles they played
in the unfolding scandal.
McCormack was a central player under Law in handling the abuses of some of the most egregious offenders, such as the Revs. Paul R. Shanley, Joseph E. Birmingham, and John G. Geoghan.
The archdiocese has paid settlements to at least five of Shanley's alleged victims. Lawyers estimate he may have molested dozens of boys.
Birmingham, who died in 1989 after 29 years as a priest, has been the subject of complaints by more than two dozen victims, several with accounts of how church officials ignored their reports of his compulsive abuse. The archdiocese settled at least one claim against Birmingham for $60,000 in 1991, according to Paul Cultrera, who alleges Birmingham molested him when he was a high school freshman in the early 1960s.
Geoghan, now serving a 9-10-year prison term for indecent assault, is accused of molesting nearly 200 children during his three-decade career.
Two years after he dismissed Pollard's complaint, McCormack took a far friendlier approach with Shanley, despite Shanley's controversial advocacy of sex between men and boys.
''Sensing the loneliness that comes with leaving a parish where you and the parishioners have meant so much to each other,'' McCormack wrote in one of more than a dozen letters to Shanley, who had been placed on sick leave and sent to California in 1990, ''the only thing I can think of are the words of Shakespeare - `Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.'''
In Shanley's case, McCormack reacted nonchalantly to a complaint that Shanley had publicly endorsed sex between men and boys, despite earlier complaints about Shanley's remarks that there was no psychiatric harm from practices like incest or bestiality. The disclosures are detailed in 800 pages of once-secret church documents made public this week.
Indeed, four months after Shanley became pastor in Newton in 1985 - a promotion made despite his history of abuse - McCormack had this to say to Shanley after a woman alerted the chancery that Shanley gave another talk advocating man-boy love: ''Would you care to comment on the remarks she made. You can either put them in writing or we could get together some day about it.'' He signed the letter, ''Fraternally in Christ.''
McCormack also visited Shanley in California in 1991, apparently staying in his rectory with him. And he and Shanley corresponded about a proposal, apparently by Shanley, to create a ''safehouse'' in Palm Springs where the Boston archdiocese could send ''warehoused'' priests.
Yet McCormack took a markedly different attitude toward victims. Pollard, recalling his 1988 conversation with McCormack, said he was shocked by McCormack's easy dismissal of his allegations about Rosenkranz. Rosenkranz, who has been on sick leave since 1990 and has two lawsuits pending against him, could not be reached for comment.
''[McCormack] said that in his experience, when child molesters are confronted they confess, and that Rosenkranz had denied the charges,'' said Pollard, who filed a lawsuit against Rosenkranz earlier this year. ''At that point the conversation really deteriorated, because to me that was basically my word against Rosenkranz's, and he was believing Rosenkranz.''
One woman who said she met twice with McCormack in the early 1990s to report that three of her six sons had been molested by a priest at a parish west of Boston in the 1970s said she received similar treatment. McCormack told her and her husband to be ''good Catholics'' and keep the abuse quiet and assured them their sons would be fine, she said.
''He brushed us aside, and that's what really infuriated me,'' said the woman, who asked for anonymity to protect her children's privacy. ''He didn't take this seriously at all.... The church teaches compassion, love, honesty, and integrity, but I don't know where that is.''
Meanwhile, McCormack is named as a defendant in a suit involving Birmingham, filed last month by James M. Hogan of Wilmington, Del., and later amended to add 13 more alleged victims. Hogan alleges that McCormack saw Birmingham taking him to his rectory bedroom in the 1960s and failed to intercede.
McCormack, a 1960 seminary classmate of Shanley and Birmingham who was assigned to the same Salem parish as Birmingham in the 1960s, has acknowledged that in about 1970 he was warned that Birmingham was molesting children. But he has denied that he ever saw Birmingham take boys into his rectory bedroom.
Both McCormack and Daily have been named as defendants in several civil lawsuits filed in connection with Geoghan's molestations. These suits accuse them of negligence for allegedly knowing of the abuse and doing nothing to stop it. Also named were Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans. The five bishops have all denied the accusations in legal filings.
For his part, Daily, whose Brooklyn diocese is the fifth largest in the country, had for months refused to cooperate with New York authorities seeking information about accused priests. He reversed course Wednesday, announcing that he would turn over the names of all priests in his jurisdiction who have been accused of sexually abusing minors in the last 20 years.
Yet Daily, too, has come under fire for allegedly casting off victims. The Rev. Timothy Lambert, 44, who is on a leave of absence, has accused Daily of brushing off allegations made four years ago that he and his brother were molested as children by a Brooklyn priest still serving as a pastor.
And Daily has come under renewed scrutiny for his handling of the Geoghan case, acknowledging that he should have investigated parishioners' complaints more thoroughly. Church records show Daily played a role in putting Geoghan back in parishes despite complaints that he had molested children.
In a deposition, it was Daily who, when asked why he had not acted more decisively when he was informed in 1980 that a Jamaica Plain parishioner had accused Geoghan of abusing her sons and nephews, replied: ''I am not a policeman; I am a shepherd.''
Banks's credibility has also come under question as church records have become public. Documents in the Shanley case reveal that it was Banks who cleared the way in 1990 for Shanley to take a parish assignment in California with a letter asserting that Shanley had had no problems during his years in Boston.
Banks - who in a letter to Shanley the same year mused that Shanley might take up golf - has said he was unaware of the allegations when he sent the letter.
Futhermore, when Banks was notified by a man that Shanley had allegedly engaged in a graphic sexual conversation with him, Banks concluded in a memo that nothing could be done because Shanley denied that the conversation occurred. Yet there was evidence in chancery files about earlier accusations against Shanley.
In the Geoghan case, church documents show that in 1989, according to
his own notes, Banks was told by a psychiatrist who had treated Geoghan:
''You better clip his wings before there is an explosion.... You can't
afford to have him in a parish.'' Despite that warning, Geoghan went on
to his sixth assignment, at St. Julia's in Weston, and his abuse continued.
By Stacy Milbouer
The day after a Manchester lawyer filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of those who claim they were sexually abused by priests or other employees of the Diocese of Manchester, he said his phones were ringing all day Thursday with calls from people interested in joining the suit.
“At this point, I’m not sure how many people have called,” said lawyer Peter Hutchins. “I was in depositions all day and my partners handled it.”
With that, Hutchins, president of the New Hampshire Bar Association and a 1976 graduate of Bishop Guertin High School, said he had to get off the phone because another person claiming to have been abused by a Catholic priest in New Hampshire was on hold.
One man who has contacted Hutchins and told him of being abused when he was younger by a Nashua area priest had this to say about Hutchins’ decision to take on the suit.
“While I’m sad it’s taken this long for justice to begin to prevail, I thank God for people like attorney Hutchins,” said the man, who declined to be identified.
The class-action suit filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester is “the best and most humane way to proceed for both sides,” Hutchins said.
“It allows the victim to come forward without having to have this
The suit accuses the diocese of concealing abuse allegations against numerous priests for decades, and creating an environment of intimidation in which boys were afraid to report the assaults.
Before the class action can go forward, the court must approve it. Part of that process will be determining if the plaintiffs create a large enough group for a class action.
Weeks before he decided to take on this case, Hutchins was asked to give a speech at a lawyers’ social gathering on the topic of sexual abuse cases. That meeting was held Thursday night in Concord at the Centennial Inn.
Hutchins’ address began with a caution to lawyers who are handling such cases, according to a copy of his presentation.
“It is important at the outset to emphasize that due to the nature of the occurrences involved in these cases, it is critical that the practicing attorney representing clients . . . exercise extreme discretion and sensitivity. The potential for collateral damage caused by litigation is great, both for the victims and the defendants,” he said.
“While these cases present very interesting legal and procedural issues, one cannot forget that the nature of the conduct giving rise to these cases involves very sensitive and often embarrassing circumstances for the client, and the practitioner must . . . temper his or her prosecution of these cases accordingly.”
Hutchins noted that since the statute of limitations is less stringent in civil cases than in criminal cases, there is more of an opportunity for victims to come forward.
He is arguing in the suit that for plaintiffs who were abused more than three years ago, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they “realized that they were injured and further realized that the injury was caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant and the priests involved.”
“That’s very important in this case, because most of their
lives, these victims didn’t realize that what was done to them was
illegal,” Hutchins said. “They just knew what happened to
them – knew a priest did it and felt ashamed and crummy. They may
become alcoholics because they feel so crummy, but they won’t necessarily
realize that something unlawful was done to them.”
By Patrick Healy
Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., has bowed out as commencement
speaker this spring at his alma mater, Boston College High School, fearing
that the ceremony would be overshadowed by McCormack's ties to defrocked
priest John J. Geoghan and allegations that the bishop did not act to
stop a fellow parish priest from molesting boys in the 1960s.
By Michael Rezendes
For several of Cardinal Bernard F. Law's detractors, the explanation
Law offered for the role he and his top deputies played in the scandal
involving the Rev. Paul R. Shanley was the most objectionable portion
of the statement Law made yesterday.
By J.M. Hirsch
Concord, N.H. -- Two of the five Roman Catholic bishops on the committee developing the church’s national response to the sex abuse crisis are accused in lawsuits of helping protect priests who molested children.
A third bishop on the panel suggested in a 1990 speech that church leaders hide records of abusive priests in the Vatican embassy, which has diplomatic immunity. His comments are being used in a sex abuse lawsuit that names all U.S. bishops as defendants.
Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sex Abuse of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is one of the church leaders who also is named as a defendant.
He’s accused in Massachusetts lawsuits of knowing priests were abusing boys and failing to intervene, and of playing a role in shuffling offenders between parishes.
Bishop John Gaydos of Jefferson City, Mo., is accused in a suit of conspiring to cover up molestation by the Rev. Anthony O’Connell, who resigned last month as bishop of Palm Beach, Fla., after admitting he abused a seminary student in Missouri more than 25 years ago.
A speech by Auxiliary Bishop A. James Quinn of Cleveland, meanwhile, is among the evidence submitted in the federal lawsuit accusing all U.S. bishops of conspiracy in the O’Connell case.
While there have been a few calls for the bishops to step down from the committee, a spokesman for the bishops conference defended them.
“None of these people have been accused themselves of any inappropriate behavior,” said spokesman William Ryan. “I’m convinced that the people know the bishops are very concerned about this entire matter and they’re determined to do something about it. I don’t feel the ad hoc committee is going to be compromised in any way.”
In a speech on canon and civil law in sex abuse cases, Quinn warned church leaders not to destroy or alter files that have been subpoenaed, then went on to suggest steps that can be taken before civil authorities intervene.
“If there’s something you really don’t want people to see you might send it off to the Apostolic Delegate, because they have immunity to protect something that is potentially dangerous . . . ,” Quinn said.
Quinn did not return calls seeking comment.
Gaydos, through his spokesman, said: “I’ve not been involved in a cover-up. But if people want somebody else on the committee, I won’t stand in the way. I’ll do anything to continue the work of the church.”
McCormack’s spokesman, Patrick McGee, said the bishop has no plans to step down from the committee. McCormack’s tough stance on keeping child abusers out of pastoral service in New Hampshire makes him an ideal member of the committee, his spokesman said.
Not all Catholics agree. “A lot of this turmoil blew up on this committee’s watch,” said Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the bishops conference and the Knights of Columbus. “They’re not the guys to do what needs doing right now. It’s got to be someone else who comes at this fresh, with no history, no previous entanglements.”
Following the lead of the Boston Archdiocese, McCormack in February released the names of 14 priests and former priests. He said the priests had credible allegations of molestation made against them.
Prior to becoming bishop in New Hampshire in 1998, McCormack was director of ministerial personnel in the Archdiocese of Boston from 1984 to 1994. For several years, he handled sexual abuse complaints involving Boston-area priests.
Church documents released under court order this week in Boston indicate that McCormack was among the top church officials who allowed the Rev. Paul Shanley to continue to serve despite repeated allegations he abused underage boys.
Shanley, who now lives in San Diego, has been accused of molestation in several lawsuits and court documents show he spoke publicly in 1979 in favor of love relationships between men and boys. In one document, McCormack said Shanley was “a sick person.”
In another lawsuit, a man who claims he was abused as a child by another Massachusetts priest, the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham, says McCormack saw him being taken into the priest’s bedroom at the rectory repeatedly, but did nothing. McCormack has said in interviews he doesn’t remember any such incidents.
The bishops’ administrative committee last month instructed the sex abuse panel to make recommendations that will help protect children and provide support to victims and their families.
Jeff Anderson, a Minneapolis lawyer who has represented hundreds of alleged victims, said the committee’s main value is public relations and that its recommendations often are ignored.
Currently individual dioceses set their own policy. But the conference president, Bishop Wilton Gregory, has suggested the bishops’ may ask the Vatican to approve binding national policies.
The panel will present its proposals when more than 300 bishops meet
in Dallas in June.
By Albert McKeon
http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=377&ArticleID=54546 [photo of priest]
Manchester -- On a day when Cardinal Bernard Law indicated he will continue leading the Archdiocese of Boston, his former aide and the current Catholic leader of New Hampshire commented on his handling of a priest accused of raping children.
Bishop John McCormack, leader of the Manchester Diocese, announced Friday that until 1993 he had no knowledge of allegations of child sexual misconduct against the Rev. Paul Shanley – even though church documents indicate the archdiocese knew of the priest’s alleged conduct as early as 1967.
McCormack, in a two-page press statement, responded to the release this week of once-secret church documents that showed he warmly corresponded with Shanley while serving as the archdiocese’s delegate on sexual misconduct.
“At all times, even though I was disturbed by what he had said and done, I treated him with the same pastoral respect that I do for all people to whom I minister. I feel I was firm while still at the same time kind,” McCormack wrote in the statement.
He also wrote that his correspondences with the priest were in the context of dealing with church teachings and administrative details of Shanley’s sick leave.
The church documents revealed that Law, McCormack and another bishop pleasantly corresponded with Shanley despite the priest’s consistent advocacy of sex between men and boys and charges that he molested as many as a dozen young males.
The release of the documents by a lawyer representing a man who claims Shanley sexually abused him sparked a wildfire of protests calling for Law’s resignation. The documents also revealed McCormack’s role as Law’s point man on sexual abuse.
The correspondences show that McCormack brokered financial assistance to Shanley and offered to inform the priest if any criminal charges were filed against him in New England.
Shanley left the archdiocese on sick leave in 1990 – a year after McCormack became his handler – and lived in California, where he eventually served part time in a San Bernardino church.
In his statement Friday, McCormack wrote that he did not know of any sexual misconduct with a minor by Shanley until 1993. When he did learn of the problem, McCormack notified the Diocese of San Bernardino and Shanley, the bishop wrote.
However, within the recently released church documents, McCormack expressed concern for Shanley’s well-being. “If he came back (to Massachusetts), I do not know what we would do with him,” McCormack wrote to a church official in December 1990.
San Bernardino church leaders have publicly criticized the Archdiocese of Boston for not notifying them sooner of Shanley’s past history. They removed him from church duties as soon as they became aware of the allegations.
McCormack wrote Friday that he is now reviewing the documents regarding Shanley “so that I can understand what else was on file about this, which was not known by me at the time.”
The church documents reveal Law and his top deputies kept Shanley in active ministry even though they knew the priest had allegations against him and had endorsed sex between men and boys. In a letter written Friday to archdiocesan priests detailing his intentions to stay as their leader, Law blamed faulty record-keeping for his decisions on Shanley.
In his statement, McCormack wrote that he communicated with Shanley while serving as the archdiocese’s cabinet secretary for ministerial personnel from 1985 to 1994 and as delegate of the archbishop from 1993 to 1994.
“As Secretary, I was in contact with him about his presentation of church teachings and the administrative details of his sick leave,” McCormack wrote. At the time, the archdiocese had received several complaints that Shanley publicly spoke of man-child love and his view that incest and bestiality caused an individual no psychiatric harm.
“As Delegate, I communicated with him regarding his misconduct in accordance with archdiocesan policy,” McCormack wrote. “All of my communications with him were in these contexts.”
When a woman complained in 1985 that Shanley gave another talk supporting man-boy love, McCormack wrote to the priest: ‘‘Would you care to comment on the remarks she made. You can either put them in writing or we could get together some day about it.’’ He signed the letter, ‘‘Fraternally in Christ.’’
In his press release, McCormack wrote, “Whenever I worked with victims of sexual abuse, I did everything that I could to help them heal from their wounds. Sometimes I was helpful to them. At other times, I was not able to assist them as fully as they might have wished. I would say that I have learned through the years how to be more effective in listening and responding.”
In the church documents, several people complain that McCormack turned a deaf ear on their charges of sexual misconduct by Shanley and other priests. In contrast, the documents showed McCormack wrote to the priest about golf, jogging and the maladies of old age. The bishop also quoted Shakespeare when comforting Shanley on his disconnection from parishioners after taking sick leave.
McCormack and Shanley studied for the priesthood together at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.
“Although I had contact with him over the years, we were not close friends,” McCormack wrote in his statement.
The bishop also commented Friday on new reports of New Hampshire priests accused of sexual conduct with minors. The diocese provided prosecutors with the names of 15 priests facing such charges, but the attorney general’s office announced recently that it has investigated more priests.
“I am committed to responding to every report in cooperation with civil authorities and doing everything that we can to help victims begin a healing process and providing a safe environment for our children,” the bishop wrote.
McCormack will provide a more thorough response to his role in the Archdiocese
of Boston within the next 10 days, Manchester Diocese spokesman Pat McGee
said. The bishop is reviewing his work from Boston, McGee said.
By J.M. Hirsch
Concord, N.H. -- Bishop John B. McCormack was director of ministerial personnel for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston from 1984 to 1994, and from 1992 to 1995 handled sex abuse complaints against its priests.
But in a deposition he gave in August, McCormack remembered little about some important cases in which he was involved. The deposition, in Boston, was in connection with several lawsuits against John Geoghan, a former Massachusetts priest accused of molesting more than 130 children.
McCormack was asked about the Rev. James Porter, the focus of one of the greatest scandals in recent church history. A priest in the Fall River, Mass., diocese, Porter was accused of molesting 99 people. He was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in 1993 to molesting 28 people.
Excerpts from McCormack’s deposition:
Q: Do you remember when you first heard that there were allegations about
McCormack also remembered little about the church’s internal investigations of Geoghan. At one point, a nun spoke with some of the families accusing Geoghan and wrote a memo saying the archdiocese was acting too slowly on their concerns.
Q: So apparently at some point Sister Catherine shared some information
with you regarding the D– and G– families?
By J.M. Hirsch
Concord, N.H. -- Peter Pollard says he was victimized twice by the Roman Catholic Church.
First it was sexual. In 1967 he says a Massachusetts priest began “teaching” him to kiss, ostensibly to prepare the then-15-year-old boy for dating girls, and later asked him to masturbate in front of him, Pollard says.
The second blow came 20 years later when he says the Rev. John B. McCormack, then an official in the Boston Archdiocese and now bishop of New Hampshire, dismissed his complaints about the Rev. George Rosenkranz.
“He said that it’s possible in the course of working with kids and providing support to kids in the church that he may have ‘expressed affection’ to them that was misinterpreted in some way as sexual,” Pollard said in a telephone interview this week.
Pollard and a growing number of other victims and alleged victims of pedophile priests say the failure of high church officials to stop it was worse than the original molestation.
“I really do see the damage here as being caused by the abuse of power more than anything sexual,” said Pollard, now 50 and living in western Massachusetts.
McCormack, Cardinal Bernard Law and other top Law deputies in Boston “could have put a stop to this” but “instead just continued it.”
“They don’t get it – that they’re actually the culprit,” Pollard said.
As new allegations about molestation and cover-ups emerge almost daily, people who say they sought help from McCormack tell of being rebuffed, offered a prayer or assured the problem was being handled.
McCormack has refused repeated requests for an interview, though in a statement Friday he promised to respond soon to the many questions about his tenure in Massachusetts.
He has said he is sorry for the harm done by priests who “broke the trust of their office.”
He has adopted a zero-tolerance policy for priests facing credible accusations of molestation, and he has released names of priests who faced such accusations in the past.
“I apologize sincerely for all that has been inflicted by the horrible actions of some priests,” he has said.
McCormack entered the seminary in 1952, and was a classmate of John Geoghan, Joseph Birmingham and Paul Shanley, Massachusetts priests who over several decades collectively account for more than 150 allegations of sexual abuse.
Birmingham is dead and efforts this week to reach the other accused priests in this story directly or through the archdiocese were unsuccessful.
McCormack was in charge of ministerial personnel for the Boston archdiocese
from 1984 to 1994. He also handled sex abuse complaints against priests
for Law from 1992 to 1995.
A Connecticut man, John Morris, says McCormack brushed off accusations of sexual abuse against Birmingham even earlier.
In a telephone interview Friday, Morris, 47, said he twice went to McCormack in the mid-1960s when McCormack and Birmingham served together at St. James parish in Salem, Mass.
Then 10, Morris recalls kneeling on the church steps and “confessing” to McCormack that “some of the things happening around the church” were making him have “dirty thoughts” and perform “dirty actions.”
Morris says McCormack responded: “John, this will be all right. God will forgive you.”
He says McCormack then told him to say several prayers for penance. Morris said McCormack never spoke to him about it again.
Birmingham also is accused of molesting James Hogan, also 10, in 1965. Hogan says the abuse continued for four years.
Hogan, now 47 and living in Wilmington, Del., contends McCormack knew he was a frequent visitor to Birmingham’s rectory bedroom, and saw the priest lead him into the room and close the door.
McCormack has said he doesn’t remember seeing anyone go into Birmingham’s
According church records, a woman wrote to church officials in 1985 that she heard Shanley speak approvingly about sex between men and boys. The letter was given to McCormack, who suggested to Shanley that they “get together and talk someday.”
Shanley continued working as a priest, including at a parish in San Bernardino,
To others, McCormack wrote that Shanley was a “sick person” whom he would not know how to handle if he returned to Boston.
In his statement Friday, McCormack said he was disturbed by Shanley’s statements and actions, but still treated him with respect.
“I feel I was firm while still at the same time kind,” he said.
Though archdiocesan records contain molestation allegations against Shanley beginning in 1967, McCormack said he did not know of any against Shanley until 1993.
“I am now reviewing the documents regarding Shanley so that I can understand what else was on file about this, which was not known by me at the time,” he said.
McCormack was interviewed under oath in August for lawsuits in Suffolk County (Mass.) Superior Court involving Geoghan. McCormack said that in the early 1990s, the archdiocese reviewed its files on every priest accused of abuse to “determine whether action was needed.”
But McCormack played a role in moving around Geoghan, a former priest accused of molesting more than 130 children. Geoghan, recently convicted of groping a boy in a pool, was not defrocked until 1998.
The Rev. Roland Paquin is another Massachusetts priest followed by a trail of accusations. The Boston Globe reported this week that in 1988, a man who asked not to be identified went to McCormack to complain about Paquin, whom he said molested him on numerous occasions starting in 1982.
The man said McCormack responded, “How much are you looking for?”
The man, accompanied by a friend, said he threatened to go to the newspaper if Paquin wasn’t removed from his assignment. He said McCormack responded, “Consider it done, boys.”
Within weeks, Paquin was sent to a treatment facility.
In his statement, McCormack said when he worked with victims of sexual
abuse, “I did everything that I could to help them heal from their
wounds. Sometimes I was helpful to them. At other times, I was not able
to assist them as fully as they might have wished.
By Tom Mashberg
On Jan. 16, 1994, soon after the first of many allegations of sexual
abuse were lodged against the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, the priest sent a
hand-scrawled note to his friend the Rev. John B. McCormack, now the bishop
of Manchester, N.H.
Bishop Accountability © 2003