Bishop Accountability

Manchester NH Resources
June 1–8, 2002

Note: The documents in this file are offered solely for educational purposes. Should any reader wish to quote or reproduce these documents for sale, the original publisher should be contacted and permission requested. makes no claim regarding the accuracy of any document we post.

McCormack deposition set for today

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

Concord, N.H. -- Bishop John B. McCormack will face questions today on what he knew about the alleged sexual abuse of three boys by a Massachusetts priest during the 1980s.

The alleged victims, all now in their mid-20s and from Newton, Mass., have filed lawsuits in Massachusetts accusing the Rev. Paul Shanley of molesting them starting when they were about 6 while he was assigned to St. Jean Parish in Newton.

The men also claim that church officials, including McCormack, failed to protect them from repeated sexual abuse by the now-retired Shanley, who also faces criminal charges of raping one of the boys.

McCormack, 66, was secretary of ministerial personnel for the Boston archdiocese from 1984-1994 and handled sexual abuse complaints against priests for Cardinal Bernard Law for several years.

The deposition is being held at Hampshire Plaza in Manchester.

Bishop said to have ignored nun’s advice on abusive priests

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
June 4, 2002

Manchester -- Bishop John B. McCormack ignored requests by a Roman Catholic nun that he warn Boston-area parishes about several priests who had been accused of molesting children, a lawyer for three alleged victims said Monday.

The disclosure came hours before McCormack began 5½ hours of questioning by lawyers for three men who say they were molested by the Rev. Paul Shanley during the 1980s, when Shanley served as pastor at St. Jean Parish in Newton, Mass.

“There were many questions asked today, and I tried to answer them as thoroughly, as completely and as honestly as I could,” McCormack said as he left the closed deposition. He did not take questions from reporters.

McCormack, 66, was secretary of ministerial personnel for the Archdiocese of Boston from 1984 to 1994 and handled sexual abuse complaints against priests for Cardinal Bernard Law from 1992 to 1995.

Lawyer Roderick MacLeish confirmed a Boston Herald report Monday that Sister Catherine Mulkerrin, McCormack’s top aide in Boston, had written memos advising him to contact members of parishes where Shanley and other accused priests had served.

“I know I sound like a broken record,” she said in one memo, “but we need to put in church bulletins ‘It has come to our attention a priest stationed here between 19XX and 19XX may have molested children – please contact . . . .’ ”

MacLeish said the memos “were sent directly to Bishop McCormack and nothing was done.” He also said he blames McCormack for allowing Shanley to continue abusing children.

“Had Bishop McCormack taken the advice of Sister Mulkerrin, and gone to the parishes where Paul Shanley and some of these priests had served and spoken to them and informed the parishioners of what was going on, I don’t think we would be here today,” he said.

The three alleged victims, all now in their mid-20s and from Newton, Mass., have filed lawsuits in Massachusetts accusing Shanley of molesting them starting when they were about 6 years old.

The men also claim that church officials, including McCormack, failed to protect them from repeated sexual abuse by the now-retired Shanley, who also faces criminal charges of raping one of the boys.

The parents of one alleged victim, Gregory Ford, accompanied MacLeish to the deposition, which will continue June 17. Rodney and Paula Ford choked back tears afterward.

According to Rodney Ford, McCormack said he treated molestation allegations gingerly for fear of bad publicity.

“The reason why he didn’t report these things? Because he stated he didn’t want to create a scandal. Well, this is a scandal at its highest,” Rodney Ford said.

Both parents were bitter that their son and other alleged victims were not believed.

“In every incident of every alleged victim, he took the word of the priest over the word of the victim, and when he found out after the fact that the victim was telling the truth, he never took the time to go back to these people and validate their claims,” Paula Ford said.

Law, McCormack and Bishop Thomas V. Daily, now of Brooklyn, N.Y., another of Law’s former deputies, are scheduled to be questioned under oath by MacLeish in the same lawsuits. Law will answer questions Wednesday and Friday and Daily will be deposed June 13.

Church records indicate the Boston archdiocese knew for decades of allegations that Shanley was molesting children. The records also contain letters detailing Shanley’s public advocacy of sex between men and boys.

Nun urged parish alerts - Law aide ignored warning on molester priests
Documents: N.H. bishop ignored molest warnings

By Tom Mashberg and Eric Convey
Boston (MA) Herald
June 4, 2002

A top aide to Bernard Cardinal Law was urged in 1994 to notify parishioners that a dozen archdiocese priests had been pulled from churches for molesting children - but chose to keep it a secret from those affected, sources said yesterday.

Despite pleas from an alarmed nun who served as his key deputy, Bishop John B. McCormack, now of Manchester, N.H., actively hid from Bay State churchgoers the fact that priests were yanked from parishes amid abuse cases, church files to be released this week indicate.

Among those noted were Revs. Bernard J. Lane, Paul J. Mahan, Paul R. Shanley, Ronald H. Paquin and Ernest E. Tourigney.

McCormack is scheduled to be deposed under oath today. He was Law's secretary for ministerial personnel from 1984 to 1995.

"I know I sound like a broken record," the nun, Sister Catherine E. Mulkerrin, says to McCormack in one memo, sources say, "but we need to put in church bulletins `it has come to our attention a priest stationed here between 19XX and 19XX may have molested children - please contact ..."

In the case of the priests noted above, and many other accused clerics, such announcements were never made.

The document is the first to show how ranking church officials were internally warned of the magnitude and human toll of their abuse crisis a full decade ago, yet labored to keep it hidden.

Law has claimed poor record-keeping led to the church's halting public response to the clerical scandal.

Victims like the Ford family of Newton say they might have understood the torment suffered by their son, Greg, far sooner had they known before February that there were many allegations of abuse against Shanley in the years before and after he supervised Greg as an altar boy in the 1980s.

"Had that information been shared with parishioners in Newton, Gregory Ford would be nine years ahead in his recovery," said attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. of Greenberg Traurig, who will be in Manchester today questioning McCormack.

MacLeish declined yesterday to comment on newly obtained archdiocese papers, except to say his staff was redacting them and that they would not likely be filed in court before Tuesday.

But speaking more generally, he said: "I cannot tell you how many clients I have who led lives of suffering because they thought they were the lone victims of a priest who is now known to have been a serial molester. This is the price of covering up these crimes so long."

McCormack, 66, a licensed social worker, has been under siege for months as internal church records show again and again how he coddled or reassigned clergy molesters and also arranged for payments of their legal fees.

Critics also have said he often sought to trivialize any allegations against priests from his 1960 graduating class at St. John's Seminary. That class has a total of five alleged abusers- to date,- the Herald reported in March.

Several alleged clergy abuse victims have said they approached McCormack during his time as personnel chief under Law and urged him to warn parishes or other dioceses of molesters in their midst. Those plaintiffs say McCormack promised to act but never followed through.

Peter Pollard of Massachusetts, a federal worker and former altar boy under the Rev. George J. Rosenkranz, for example, says he met with McCormack twice in 1988, when Rosenkranz was still a pastor at St. John's in Salem.

Pollard says he urged McCormack to confront Rosenkranz, who is the target of sex-abuse lawsuits and whose name has been given to law enforcement. Pollard says the bishop "told me Rosenkranz had denied the charges, and that was apparently good enough for him."

"I believe McCormack was and is a major coverup artist," Pollard said. "His manner toward me was clearly manipulative. It was clear to me from the first moment there was going to be stone wall there."

Pollard complimented aide Sister Mulkerrin, however, describing her as "a nurturing and caring person who really wanted something to be done to put this to a halt."

Another alleged victim, David G. Coleman of Cape Cod, recalls approaching McCormack in mid-1985 over another problem priest, the Rev. Richard T. Coughlin, who pastored in Lynn before moving on to the Diocese of Orange, Calif., in 1965 to found a boys' choir.

Coleman, who alleges Coughlin abused him the 1960s, says he was horrified to learn in the 1980s that Coughlin was managing choirboys.

He says he met with McCormack and urged him to alert the Orange diocese of his charges.

Coleman says he learned seven years later that Coughlin was still in ministry in Orange and moved to alert officials there directly.

Soon after, Coughlin was ousted amid muliple reports of sex abuse, and Orange diocese officials have told the Herald and police investigators they never received word about Coughlin from McCormack.

"I thought (McCormack) would do the right thing and put (Coughlin) out of circulation," Coleman said. "My anger is that he failed to do the absolute minimum of what he ostensibly promised to do."

Coleman adds that he confronted McCormack about the matter in the mid-1990s and that McCormack "at first claimed he'd never met with me, then claimed that he left it to a subordinate to contact" church officials in California.

Thousands of documents released since January make clear McCormack was deeply involved in the reassignments of problem priests, including several he knew from his days at St. John's Seminary in Brighton.

Those men include accused molesters Revs. Joseph E. Birmingham, Eugene O'Sullivan, Lane and Shanley, all of whom graduated with McCormack in 1960. McCormack also spent four years in the seminary with three other problem priests, Revs. John J. Geoghan, Rosenkranz and Tourigney.

McCormack, a Winthrop native, is a graduate of Boston Latin.

For the first seven years after his 1960 ordination, he served as an assistant at St. James Church in Salem, where the pastor was Birmingham, a now-deceased priest who is the subject of suits by more than 40 separate alleged victims.

In one accusation, a Birmingham plaintiff says McCormack watched Birmingham with the boy in a residential part of the rectory. McCormack has denied seeing the boy with Birmingham in an inappropriate place.

In earlier statements, McCormack admits having heard of allegations against Birmingham as early as the 1970s. But in 1985 the clergy personnel office he supervised promoted Birmingham to a position at a Gloucester parish.
On May 8, the Manchester Union-Leader, ran a front-page editorial urging McCormack's resignation.

McCormack issued a response condemning abuse, and saying, "In the past, the response of church leaders, including myself, to these horrific acts is now revealed to have been flawed and inadequate."

But he refused to step down, noting that Pope John Paul II had appointed him. "I will remain your servant and toil ceaselessly on your behalf as bishop of Manchester," he wrote.

Lawyer set to hit cardinal with a ’93 letter about abuse

By Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
June 4, 2002

A lawyer set to depose Bernard Cardinal Law twice this week will confront him with a 24-page legal memo mailed to Law's counsel in 1993 that detailed the alleged abuses of 15 now-notorious priests and urged the church to "establish explicit pastoral outreach" to their numerous likely parish victims.

Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. said he wrote the memo, a copy of which was made available yesterday, after laboriously piecing together the stories of dozens of alleged victims of clerical molesters who sought him out in the wake of the Rev. James R. Porter scandal.

"It is clear these cases together reflect a systemic pattern of abuse in the (Boston) archdiocese and an alarming pattern of institutional negligence on a disturbingly large scale," he wrote.

"Most church hierarchies defend the problem of clerical sexual abuse by contending it represents the problem of a few errant priests who go astray. That defense would certainly be clearly inapplicable in this case."

At least seven priests identified by MacLeish in his disturbing and detailed letter were quickly pulled from parish duties - among them the Revs. Paul R. Shanley, Bernard J. Lane, Paul J. Mahan, C. Melvin Surette and Ernest E. Tourigney.

But despite MacLeish's pleas, Law and his counsel, Wilson D. Rogers Jr., made no effort to alert parishioners that such men had been in their midst for years.

Instead, MacLeish said yesterday, Law and his personnel aides - chief among them Bishop John B. McCormack, now of Manchester, N.H. - hewed to an overarching policy of secrecy, shuffling the named priests to new posts.
MacLeish also said at a news conference he alerted the Herald and the Globe in the fall of 1993, and that both papers "ran one-day stories" citing MacLeish's troubling revelations.

On Dec. 8, 1993, the Herald reported on Page 1 that Law "has suspended several priests" amid "shocking new accusations that 20 priests sexually abused" minors.

None of the names was released by the church at the time, even though two of the priests - Shanley and Rev. Ronald H. Paquin - have since been indicted amid the wave of revelations involving the Catholic Church.

"Those were times when lawyers like me and Mitchell Garabedian were not too popular in a lot of circles," MacLeish said. "There was enormous pressure to put the lid on this, and no media interest.

"The church demanded secrecy as a condition for moving the men out of parishes," he said. "The priority for me and my clients became getting these molesters away from churches with children."

MacLeish has made the absence of pastoral outreach by Law, McCormack and other church figures a central issue in his current lawsuits. He is suing on behalf of the Fords, a Newton family who only learned in February that Shanley was known by the church to be a molester, yet who allege their son, Greg, was his victim in the 1980s.

In 1992, MacLeish said, a national bishops' group ruled that communications with parishioners ought to be frank and immediate if a clerical molester is identified.
In his 1993 letter, MacLeish wrote that ahead of any financial claims, his "clients want to know whether any of these (priests) continue to function in positions which give them access to youth."

Eric Convey contributed to this report.

Bishop: Church brass hid sex scandal

By Eric Convey and Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
June 4, 2002

Manchester, N.H. -- A bishop who served as Bernard Cardinal Law's top personnel aide for a decade testified yesterday that Archdiocese of Boston leaders kept a wave of clergy abuse allegations secret because telling the faithful in the affected parishes might have created "a scandal."

Bishop John B. McCormack, 67, now head of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., gave the explanation under oath in a deposition in the Rev. Paul R. Shanley abuse case, witnesses to his questioning said.

"He said he didn't want to create `a scandal,' " said a visibly incensed Rodney Ford, whose son, Greg, now 24, is suing Law, McCormack, Shanley and the Catholic Church for numerous rapes alleged to have occurred in the 1980s at St. Jean's Parish in Newton.

"Well, this is a scandal at its highest," Ford said. "It's a disgrace what we have had to go through."

McCormack, emerging from 5 1/2 hours of questioning by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., declined to discuss his testimony in detail or answer questions from reporters.

"I'm glad I've had this opportunity to begin answering the questions that people have, that lawyers have," said the embattled bishop, who has been urged to resign by The Manchester Union-Leader and numerous others. "I tried to answer them as completely, as thoroughly, as honestly as I could. Thank you for your interest. God bless you."

The Herald reported yesterday that one document produced as a result of subpoenas in the Shanley case indicates a high-ranking archdiocese nun urged McCormack and others in 1994 that parishes be alerted after their pastors were credibly accused of molestation.

Time and again, church documents show, the nun was overruled in favor of secrecy. McCormack admitted yesterday he ignored the nun, Sister Catherine E. Mulkerrin, preferring to stifle the flow of any information to churchgoers.

At one point yesterday, according to Paula Ford, Greg's mother, who was also at the deposition, McCormack acknowledged that he usually took the word of priests over parishioners when confronted with allegations of child abuse.

"In every incident of every alleged victim, he took the word of the priest over the word of the victim," she said. "When he found out after the fact that the victim was telling the truth, he never took the time to go back to these people and validate their claims.

"This was one of the most painful days of my life," she said yesterday. "The truth is so painful."

MacLeish, who is to depose Law tomorrow and Friday, said the testimony also shows that McCormack and his colleagues at the chancery in Brighton ignored Mulkerrin's advice in violation of a 1992 directive from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stating that lay Catholics should be kept informed of sexual abuse reports.

The conference is expected to issue new guidelines on the reporting of abuse by clergy today.

"Had Bishop McCormack taken the advice of Sister Mulkerrin, and gone to the parishes where Paul Shanley and some of these priests had served, and spoken to them and informed the parishioners of what was going on, I don't think we would be here today," he said.

MacLeish confirmed a Herald report yesterday that one of Mulkerrin's memos read: "I know I sound like a broken record. But we need to put in church bulletins `It has come to our attention a priest stationed here between 19XX and 19XX may have molested children - please contact. . . ."

MacLeish said his recent deposition of the Rev. Charles J. Higgins, the current archdiocese personnel chief, showed that Boston officials have discussed abuse at just three of the 200 parishes known to have been served by alleged abusers.

The tone of the session was cordial, said Peter Hutchins, a New Hampshire lawyer who also attended because he has cases involving the church. Written and audio-visual transcripts of the deposition could be made available as soon as this afternoon, pending a ruling by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond J. Brassard.

Testimony also included discussions of priests who have not previously been implicated in abuse cases, MacLeish said.

"This is a case about a pattern," he said. "There were many, many priests who were mentioned today."

Some questions focused on how the archdiocese handled allegations involving the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin, who is in jail awaiting trial for abuse. Others pertained to a group of priests who attended St. John's Seminary in Brighton with McCormack in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

They include Revs. Joseph Birmingham, John Geoghan, Bernard Lane and Shanley, all of whom have faced multiple lawsuits.

MacLeish and his law partner, Robert A. Sherman, said soon-to-be released documents include information that could strengthen cases against three or four more priests. They said they planned to make files on 10 more abusive priests public as soon as today.

MacLeish and Sherman stated in court last week that church lawyers were blocking witnesses from cooperating during depositions. There were no such problems with McCormack, MacLeish said.

The Fords said McCormack apologized to them over Shanley. Rodney Ford said he did not take the bishop seriously. Paula Ford said she expects future sessions to produce more troubling details about the church's handling of the issue.

"I can see the writing on the wall," she said. "It's not pretty."

Bishop offers apology to parents of a Shanley accuser

By Matt Carroll
Boston (MA) Globe
June 4, 2002

Manchester, N.H. -- Bishop John B. McCormack apologized yesterday to the parents of a Newton man who allegedly was abused by the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, a onetime Newton pastor who was investigated by McCormack for making past statements endorsing sex between men and boys.

Paula and Rodney Ford, the parents of Gregory Ford, said at a news conference that McCormack spoke to them directly at his deposition here, delivering an apology they described as "awkward" and unconvincing. "He apologized and said he was sorry for what happened," said Paula Ford.

McCormack, who was a top deputy to Cardinal Bernard F. Law before being named bishop of the Manchester Diocese three years ago, made a brief statement after nearly six hours of sworn pretrial testimony in a lawsuit filed by the Fords.

"I tried to answer as thoroughly, as completely, and as honestly as I could," said McCormack, who declined to take questions from reporters.

Shanley was arrested last month, accused of raping Paul Busa during the 1980s, when Busa was a child attending religion classes at the now-closed St. John the Evangelist Church in Newton. Shanley has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., the attorney for the Fords in their civil suit against Shanley and Law, is today expected to release copies of approximately 1,000 pages of church documents concerning alleged sexual abuse by 11 priests. MacLeish gained access to the documents through the lawsuit in an attempt to show a pattern of negligent supervision of priests accused of sexual misconduct.

MacLeish is also scheduled to take pretrial testimony from Law in the Ford case tomorrow and again on Friday.

Meanwhile, Bishop Robert J. Banks, another former Law deputy who is now bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc., will be deposed today by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing 86 alleged victims of convicted pedophile and former priest John J. Geoghan.

Yesterday, Rodney Ford said he found it difficult to sit through McCormack's deposition.

"It was one of the most painful days of my life," said Ford, adding that it was particularly difficult to hear McCormack say that in some cases he never informed alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse that he had discovered they were telling the truth.

McCormack wrote to Shanley about a letter from a New York woman who said Shanley had advocated man-boy love, and asked the priest for an explanation.

The Fords also said that during his deposition McCormack said he did not have access to documents in what the bishop called a "secret archive" at the archdiocese.

A transcript of McCormack's depostion will be made public after a Middlesex Superior Court judge holds a hearing to determine when the transcript should be filed.

At the news conference with the Fords, MacLeish, who has repeatedly condemned the archdiocese this year for hiding the extent of sexual abuse among priests, also criticized a Globe report yesterday that said he and other lawyers secretly settled claims against many priests during the 1990s, all of them individual settlements that had the cumulative effect of masking the extent of the problem.

"The last thing we were doing was keeping anything quiet," said MacLeish.

In an interview last night, MacLeish said he brought the extent of the problem to the attention of Boston news organizations almost a decade ago, but insisted that reporters were uninterested in pursuing the issue.

In December 1993, the Boston Herald and then the Globe quoted MacLeish saying he had brought sexual abuse claims involving 20 priests and 28 alleged victims to the Boston Archdiocese.

In the articles, MacLeish praised the archdiocese for removing the unnamed priests from service, saying the church had done a "commendable job" of handling the issue.

In a letter to the archdiocese's lawyer less than three months earlier, MacLeish raised complaints against 17 priests, and said that just two of them may have had "potentially hundreds of other" victims.

"It is clear that these cases together reflect a systemic pattern of abuse within the archdiocese and an alarming pattern of institutional negligence on a disturbingly large scale," MacLeish wrote in the Sept. 27, 1993, letter to Wilson Rogers Jr., the church's attorney.

The 24-page letter contains extensive details about the specifics of the sexual abuse by the priests. Many of their names, and the allegations, did not become public until this year.

MacLeish made the letter public yesterday, he said, because it shows that he and his clients, in addition to seeking monetary settlements, also wanted the archdiocese to ensure that the priests would no longer have access to children. In the letter, MacLeish told Rogers he wanted to have the claims mediated, which was done in private.

Asked last night why he did not make the letter public in 1993, or file lawsuits to get the matter before the public, MacLeish said he did not take those steps because of a need to protect the victims, and because caps on liability for charities like the church made lawsuits less attractive than negotiated settlements.

When the Globe reported on Jan. 31 this year that the Boston Archdiocese had secretly settled claims involving more than 70 priests in the last decade, MacLeish disclosed that his law firm accounted for more than 50 priests.

Philip Saviano, a victim of clergy sexual abuse who hired MacLeish to represent him in the early 1990s, said the lawyer did not go far enough a decade ago to expose the problem.

"What I'm saying is, whether [MacLeish] sees it this way or not, he was part of the big web of secrecy," said Saviano, who is director of the New England chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "Maybe he thinks he took steps to protect kids, but ultimately I'd say he didn't go nearly as far as he should have."

MacLeish, who represented more than 100 victims of former priest James R. Porter in the Fall River Diocese 1992, said the attention to that case and the subsequent private claims he filed against the Boston Archdiocese forced the church to create new policies and remove priests.

Church covered up 4 decades of abuse

By Tom Mashberg and Jack Sullivan
Boston (MA) Herald
June 5, 2002

Documents on 10 suspended clerics released yesterday put Bernard Cardinal Law, three subordinates and even the late Richard Cardinal Cushing at the center of a broad effort to hide the truth about clergy abuse from parishioners, victims and the public.

The damaging new documents on the suspended clerics also reflect unfavorably on the oversight of priests under the long-lionized Cushing as well as Law's predecessor, the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros.

"What we now have before us is a four-decade-long pattern of protecting, harboring and covering up for known child molesters," said attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who released the files and is to depose Law today. "To claim any more that these are isolated cases is absurd."

The Rev. Christopher R. Coyne, spokesman for Law, conceded yesterday that the latest batch of documents was damaging to his besieged archdiocese.

"Once again, it was part of the protective culture of the church of the time," Coyne said, "and forgetting . . . that the first thing has to be the protection of children.

"It's going to take a long time to Recover the credibility we've lost," he added.

Included in the files is a three-page handwritten 1993 Law memo in which he details why he let Rev. Eugene M. O'Sullivan be shifted in 1985 to a diocese in New Jersey - even though O'Sullivan had been convicted of raping an Arlington altar boy just a year earlier.

"Boston was not acceptable because of possible scandal," Law wrote in the 1993 memo, which he apparently prepared after the Associated Press and other news media contacted the chancery about O'Sullivan's criminal past. "While assignment of a priest under these circumstances is arguable, our present policy does not permit it."

Nonetheless, after O'Sullivan was bounced from Metuchen, N.J., because of his Bay State convictions, he was allowed by Law to wear his clerical collar for 17 more years - and even served formally at Carney Hospital in Dorchester.

The lengths to which Law himself went to assure new priestly duties for O'Sullivan and two other longtime problem pastors - the Revs. Ernest E. Tourigney and Daniel M. Graham - are just some of the troubling personnel moves outlined in the files, obtained by MacLeish as part a pretrial investigation of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

Other revelations included in the long-hidden files are these:

- Embattled Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., denied over and over to parishioners that Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham was a threat to molest minors, even though Birmingham's personnel file showed evidence of abuse starting under Cushing in 1964.

In April 1987, in his capacity as Law's secretary for ministerial personnel, McCormack reviewed an emotional inquiry about Birmingham from a male parishioner at St. Ann's Church in Gloucester.

The parishioner, whose son, then 13, was an altar boy under Birmingham, said he learned that Birmingham had been removed from his parish for molesting children, and that the priest had soon after fallen into "poor health."

Because Birmingham had also preached about AIDS, and was rumored to have engaged in risky sexual practices, the parishioner wrote: "I am concerned about the AIDS situation, and about a priest possibly molesting my son." He asked Law for an explanation.

In answer, McCormack wrote that Law had received the letter and asked McCormack to investigate. McCormack then wrote: "I have contacted Father Birmingham and . . . he assured me there is absolutely no factual basis for your concern regarding your son and him. . . . I feel he would tell me the truth . . . in this matter."

Birmingham died wasting away from cancer in 1989. Some 40 men have come forward in recent months to file lawsuits against him for abuse, and church files quote him admitting several times under questioning to "sexual improprieties."

Gary Bergeron of Lowell, a Birmingham accuser, said yesterday: "Page after page shows they all knew he was a molester a full decade before he abused me and my brother, but did nothing. It's incredible to see how these `men of God' let this go on for so long."

- The files mark the first clear indications Cushing engaged in coverups. The Herald reported last month that Medeiros was deeply implicated in efforts to hide the depradations of defrocked and jailed pedophile James R. Porter.

In a letter dated Oct. 1, 1964, a Marshfield couple wrote to Cushing detailing the sexual abuse of their 12-year-old son by O'Sullivan at St. Ann's Church in Marshfield.

In the letter, the couple told Cushing that O'Sullivan had fondled their son, an altar boy, several times that summer. They also informed Cushing of at least four other altar boys who spoke of being sexually abused by O'Sullivan.

The couple said they had reported the incidents to the church pastor, who said he would relay their concerns to the archdiocese. The couple later found out the pastor had not followed through. That is when they wrote to Cushing.

"We are taking the liberty of reporting directly to you . . . trusting that you in your wisdom will know best how best to handle the matter," the couple wrote Cushing.

Shortly after, O'Sullivan was transferred to Our Lady's Parish in Waltham. That same year, similar accusations were levied, and he was again transferred, next to Point of Pines Church in Revere.

An unsigned memo from 1964 acknowledges allegations against O'Sullivan and noted a three-week vacation was arranged beginning June 16, 1964, until July 6, 1964.

"Informed (O'Sullivan) that we would transfer him, effective approx July 9," the note states.

And despite Law's insistence in his 1993 memo there were "no previous reports" of accusations on O'Sullivan, an internal memo from "T.J.D." to Bishop Alfred Hughes confirmed the O'Sullivan problem.

"As far as I can see there is no evidence of treatment following the events of 1964, just transferred etc. . . .," the memo states.

- Regarding Father Graham, removed in February from St. Joseph's in Quincy, the papers show he was assigned a "mediator" in 1988 by Bishop Robert J. Banks, now of Green Bay, Wis., a Law aide who was deposed yesterday for his role in the Boston scandal.

The mediator was Shanley, now awaiting trial on three counts of child rape, who acted as middle-man between Graham and the accuser. Shanley referred Graham to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), a program for sexual addictions loosely based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

"With Fr. Paul Shanley's help I have discovered a helpful support group, S.L.A.A.," Graham wrote to his victim. "Meetings are helpful to keep ones sexuality in check."

Graham was cleared by church officials to resume parish ministry, but in 1992 was charged once again with abusing minors. In a 1996 letter to Graham, Law offered him a dispensation from Law's 1993 rules governing molester priests so that he could resume parish work.

- The documents also further the evidence that Medeiros allowed pedophile priests to remain in the ministry and transferred rather than disciplined them.

In 1973, Medeiros approved the request of Rev. Ernest E. Tourigney to take a post as student chaplain at Catholic University in Washington. Medeiros knew Tourigney had been transferred to St. Mary's in Holliston after accusations of molestation at Immaculate Conception Church in Weymouth.

In his letter to Medeiros requesting the post, Tourigney said his stay at St. Mary's helped "alleviate a long-term difficult situation with the parish, which I have tried to do to the best of my ability."

"During my years as a priest, I have worked with the youth both on a parish and deanery level," he wrote. "It is the type of work I enjoy doing the most, find most rewarding and feel most qualified in doing." The records indicate there were at least eight victims who accused Tourigney of sexually assaulting them. Still, McCormack and Law gave him new slots.

- One of the more sordid tales to emerge from the papers involves accused predatory priest Richard O. Matte. A man alleges he was abused by Matte after he went to the cleric about being sexually abused by another priest at various places, including drug dealers' houses in the early-1980s.

According to a letter to church lawyers from Robert A. Sherman, the victim's attorney and MacLeish's partner, the then-14-year-old boy was the victim of "violent sexual abuse" by the Rev. Richard Buntel from 1979 to 1985. Both Buntel and Matte were assigned to St. Joseph's Church in Malden.

The victim claimed Buntel befriended him and introduced him to alcohol and marijuana,later feeding him cocaine and exposing him to "violent pornography."

"On one occasion, two drug dealers associated with Fr. Buntel urged Fr. Buntel to make a pornographic film of him sexually assaulting (the victim)," Sherman wrote. "(The victim) does not know if this film was ever made."

Memos reveal trail of charges

By Sacha Pfeiffer
Boston (MA) Globe
June 5, 2002

The departure was sudden, but if parishioners asked what had become of their parish priest, church officials had a tidy explanation ready: The Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham had been "working too hard" and "needed a rest," according to a three-page, handwritten Nov. 4, 1964, memo by a high-ranking Chancery official.

In fact, Birmingham had been hastily transferred from Our Lady of Fatima Church in Sudbury to St. James Church in Salem after two fathers and their sons reported the young priest had repeatedly fondled the boys.

It's likely, however, that many Sudbury parishioners knew the truth anyway. The pastor there told Chancery officials that knowledge of Birmingham's habit of groping altar boys was so "widespread" that some children refused to attend altar-boy meetings and religious education classes.

Forced to face two of his young accusers at a meeting at the Chancery, Birmingham first denied the accusations, then claimed to have no memory of the incidents, and finally apologized for the "impropriety."

He was ordered to see a Catholic psychiatrist "to get to the root of this problem," although it is unclear whether he followed through with the directive. He was placed on sick leave and later reassigned to Salem, where his abusive behavior continued, according to a fellow priest who advised church officials in 1970 that Birmingham be transferred again.

The disclosures about the archdiocese's extensive knowledge of Birmingham's alleged history of abuse were included among 1,000 pages of church documents released yesterday in connection with a lawsuit filed against the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

Despite Birmingham's troubled history, he was moved from Salem to another parish in Lowell, to one in Brighton, to Gloucester, and to Lexington. By the time he died in 1989, he had served in a half-dozen parishes in the archdiocese, leaving dozens of accusations.

Church files show that his alleged abuses were known to Cardinal Bernard F. Law and several of his top deputies, including now-Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., who was one of Birmingham's seminary classmates, and now-Bishop Robert J. Banks of Green Bay, Wis.

In McCormack's case, he wrote on Law's behalf to assure a parishioner at St. Ann's in Gloucester in April 1987 that there was "no factual basis" to his concern that his son may have been molested by Birmingham - even though McCormack had known since at least 1970 of Birmingham's alleged abuses. "From my knowledge of Father Birmingham and my relationship with him, I feel he would tell me the truth and I believe he is speaking the truth in this matter," McCormack wrote to the parishioner, who had written Law to inquire whether the Birmingham who was removed from Gloucester several months earlier was the same Birmingham who had been removed from Sudbury in the 1960s for molesting boys.

"I see no need of your raising this question with your son," McCormack added.

Two months earlier, Banks wrote that Birmingham had "admitted there had been some difficulty" when confronted with a recent abuse complaint. "He agreed it would be helpful to resign from the parish, and to seek assessment and therapy," Banks added.

Birmingham's file indicates he was sent the same year to the Institute of Living, a Hartford treatment center for sexually abusive priests. After that, he served as parochial vicar at St. Brigid in Lexington from 1987 until shortly before his death in 1989.

After Birmingham's death, complaints continued to stream in to the archdiocese, including one by a man who received a $60,000 settlement from the archdiocese for abuse he suffered at Birmingham's hands when he was a high school student in the 1960s.

Inaction followed charges of abuse

By Thomas Farragher and Matt Carroll
Boston (MA) Globe
June 5, 2002

Senior archdiocesan officials in Boston reacted to charges that priests were abusing children with a bureaucratic nonchalance in the years before the current scandal broke, newly released documents show.

In 1987, when Bishop Robert J. Banks learned of a mother's complaints that the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham had repeatedly molested her 15-year-old son, Banks's response did not sound alarm bells, according to a memo among nearly 1,000 new pages of church documents released yesterday.

"I spoke to Joe Birmingham," the memo reads. "He admitted there had been some difficulty. He agreed it would be helpful to resign from the parish and to seek assessment and therapy."

Banks, as a senior deputy to Cardinal Bernard F. Law, was also involved in the 1985 transfer of the Rev. Eugene M. O'Sullivan to the Metuchen, N.J., diocese after his guilty plea to a rape charge in Middlesex County. Law verbally arranged the transfer after consulting Bishop (now Cardinal) Theodore E. McCarrick. But the documents include a 1984 letter from Banks noting that accusations of sexual misconduct against O'Sullivan dated from "a couple of years" after his 1960 ordination.

When Bishop John B. McCormack, then a top deputy to Law, was asked to look into another reported attack by Birmingham in 1987, he went right to the source.

"[Father Birmingham] assured me there is absolutely no factual basis to your concern regarding your son and him," McCormack wrote to the father of an alleged victim. McCormack also vouched for Birmingham. Earlier this year, the Globe reported that parents in Salem went to McCormack with abuse complaints about Birmingham more than three decades ago.

McCormack also recommended that the case of the Rev. Bernard J. Lane not be sent to the archdiocesan review board, which heard allegations of sexual abuse against priests, even though Lane had admitted he had inappropriate contact with a young boy.

McCormack's recommendation raised the concern of Bishop Alfred C. Hughes, who also knew about Lane's history.

A memo written by "TJD" - apparently the Rev. Thomas J. Daly - in February 1992 to Hughes mentions that Lane had "an incident of rather lewd conduct" in 1978.

McCormack on March 15, 1993, wrote Hughes in a memo that the boy who made the charges was vindictive and not credible. He wrote in a follow-up memo on May 3:

"I recommend the matter not be pursued. If you would like this presented to the Sexual Misconduct Review Board, I would do so. However, I do not encourage it."

In the upper righthand corner of the memo, Hughes appends this handwritten comment: "Why do you recommend not going before the board?"

As the new records were being released yesterday, Banks was being questioned under oath as two alleged victims of pedophile priest John J. Geoghan, Mark Keane, and Patrick McSorley, attended.

Banks was the archdiocesan administrator who allowed Geoghan to be returned to St. Julia's Church in Weston in 1989 after treatment despite additional allegations of sexual abuse against children.

They said Banks, now bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., appeared nervous, frightened, and at times, evasive under questioning by the victims' attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.

"It depresses me that it had to come to this in order to get a bishop to admit that he made a mistake," McSorley said. "He actually did say he made a mistake in putting Geoghan in a different parish. And at least that's a little bit of honesty. It's more than we've gotten before."

Walter V. Robinson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Complaints didn’t dim bishop’s faith in priests
Papers shed light on McCormack’s role

By Annmarie Timmins and Amy McConnell
Concord (NH) Monitor
June 6, 2002

Bishop John McCormack has said little about his work handling allegations of clergy sexual abuse for the Archdiocese of Boston other than that he mishandled some of the cases. Nearly 1,000 pages of internal church documents involving 10 accused priests released Tuesday provide a better understanding of his role.

McCormack dealt with dozens of difficult allegations with a mixed record, moving priests quickly out of their assignments but showing leniency for some even as the accusations mounted. The files aren't complete, however, and it is unclear how the church ultimately resolved each case.

McCormack declined to comment for this story through his spokesman, Pat McGee, saying he had not looked at the documents in nearly a decade.

In most cases, McCormack responded to allegations by questioning the priest, asking his staff to question the alleged victims and then immediately sending the priest for treatment to one of two centers the archdiocese favored.

The exception was the case of Father Ernest Tourigney, where the alleged victims complained of McCormack's dallying response.

It is also clear that during treatment and after, McCormack was unfailingly supportive of the accused priests, even deciding against trying to remove one because he didn't want to upset him. In another case, he concluded one parent's concerns were unfounded simply because McCormack knew the accused priest and believed his denials.

Here is a closer look at what the files in six of the cases show about McCormack's involvement:

Joseph Birmingham

Last month, McCormack said publicly that he'd mishandled cases of sexual abuse allegations during his time in the archdiocese. Among those, he said, was the case of Joseph Birmingham.

The files show that the church had been receiving complaints of sexual misconduct against Birmingham since 1964. One came from a priest. In 1987, according to the church records, Birmingham resigned for health reasons and went to therapy.

Two months later, Cardinal Bernard Law asked McCormack to respond to a parent who had heard rumors of Birmingham's misconduct and was worried about his own son, who had been an altar boy for Birmingham.

McCormack knew Birmingham well. The two had been in a seminary together and had served together at a Salem, Mass., parish. McCormack had also heard allegations before.

In April 1987, McCormack followed up on Law's request and asked Birmingham about the allegations. He wrote back to the parent.

"He assured me there is no factual basis to your concern regarding your son and him," McCormack wrote. "From my knowledge of Father Birmingham and my relationship with him, I feel he would tell me the truth and I believe he is speaking the truth in this matter."

McCormack discouraged the man from raising the issue with his son, but he offered the number of the church's counselors if the father decided otherwise.

Birmingham died in 1989. The archdiocese, McCormack in particular, continued to receive complaints of sexual misconduct against him. Today, nearly 40 men have accused him of abuse.

A lawyer for one victim has accused McCormack of covering up the abuse and helping transfer Birmingham around as the allegations mounted. McCormack has said he had no role in assigning or moving priests while working in Boston.

Ronald Paquin

In 1981, Father Ronald Paquin crashed his car on Interstate 93 in Tilton after spending a weekend with four teenage boys in a Bethlehem cabin. One boy died.

The police report concluded that Paquin had fallen asleep at the wheel. Two months ago, the parents who lost their son filed a wrongful death suit against the church claiming Paquin fell asleep because he'd been up the previous night drinking and having sex with one or more of the boys.

There is almost no mention of the accident in the church files released this week. The files do contain notes and memos on nearly 20 allegations that came to the archdiocese against Paquin between 1990 and 2000.

At least eight of those victims came forward when McCormack worked in Boston. Paquin admitted some of the abuse, acknowledged his sexual attraction to boys and showed no empathy for his victims, according to internal church records.

McCormack's response to the allegations was to send Paquin for treatment, assign him a mentor and restrict his ministry so he wasn't serving with children.

"I told (Paquin) that it was important for him to go to (treatment) because of the civil liabilities of the archdiocese and our moral obligations to the parishioners involved," McCormack wrote in Paquin's file in June 1990.

Still, complaints continued to come to McCormack that Paquin was spending time alone with boys. McCormack asked Paquin about the allegations and recommended continued treatment and restricted ministry.

"I think there is a serious concern how he has expressed his care and concern for young boys," McCormack wrote in Paquin's file in September 1990. "It seems to be from mixed motives. It seems that he does have a true concern for them, but also he has his own needs of affection which get expressed in unhealthy ways."

McCormack put Paquin on sick leave and sent him to Maryland for treatment. "I told him the archdiocese wants to help him in every way."

McCormack also met with concerned parishioners from Paquin's church. He took their concerns to Paquin and asked Paquin how he planned to change his ways. He noted Paquin's response, including a plan to stop allowing boys to sleep in his bed.

Six months later, Paquin was nearing the end of his treatment in Maryland, and McCormack was preparing to put Paquin back to work, perhaps doing hospital or nursing home ministry.

"We agreed that he is not free to work with young people," McCormack wrote, "even though there is very little, if any, concern about his acting out impulsively."

McCormack assigned Paquin to live in a Massachusetts parish and found him work at a hospital. Meanwhile, allegations about Paquin's past abuse and current behavior came to the archdiocese. A priest, among others, reported that Paquin was visiting boys from his former parish.

In March 1994, an aide asked McCormack whether the archdiocese could do more than simply offer counseling to the victims who called. Internal church documents show that officials believed it was likely there were more victims than had come forward.

"Should we be making some kind of contact with any place Ron Paquin has been stationed?" Father John Dooher wrote.

There is no indication in the church documents that McCormack responded or that the archdiocese pursued that recommendation.

Three months later, in June 1994, McCormack and his review board, which helped him decide the fate of accused priests, concluded that Paquin should be banned from public ministry and suggested that Paquin ask to be removed from the priesthood.

Paquin refused, and neither McCormack nor the review board insisted. In the next six years, after McCormack had left the archdiocese, the review board urged Paquin to remove himself from the priesthood three more times. He refused each request.

By 2000, the last date noted in the church records released, the archdiocese had received 20 complaints against Paquin.

John Hanlon

The case of Father John Hanlon is unlike the others in that it is the only one that was investigated by the police. The records do not say how the police became involved, but by the time McCormack entered the picture in August 1993, Hanlon was headed to a criminal trial.

McCormack's name appears on just one memo in the case. In August 1993, he summarized the allegations against Hanlon for the church's personnel files and noted that he asked fellow priests to help him reach the alleged victim.

"We want to be of help to the young man as well as to take whatever steps need to be taken to address this matter," McCormack wrote.

Hanlon was convicted in a Massachusetts court in March 1994 of two charges of rape and two charges of assault with intent to rape. He was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

Paul Mahan

McCormack took five allegations of sexual misconduct to Father Paul Mahan in August 1993 and listened as Mahan said he was innocent. Still, McCormack told Mahan he'd have to be assessed and go on administrative leave.

Law asked McCormack to follow up on the suggestion of one victim's parent that the church do more to support parents. The parent suggested a support group just for parents of victims.

"It is my hope that we can gather in church and through prayer and worship have a further opportunity to ask God to be with us in these difficult days," Law wrote to the parent.

The file does not indicate whether McCormack followed up.

In October 1994, nearly a year after McCormack first approached Mahan, he received a report from another priest who was concerned that Mahan had his young nephew and two young friends living with him in his Massachusetts home.

McCormack told Mahan that had to end. But McCormack did not initially ask the boys whether they had been harmed. McCormack, who had a master's degree in social work by this time, thought to do so after a doctor suggested it.

An unsigned memo in the file shows that church officials contacted a state social worker to help them interview the boys and discussed the possibility of reporting any findings to the state.

Ernest Tourigney

When McCormack was told in June 1992 that Father Ernest Tourigney needed six months of psychiatric treatment, the priest had allegedly molested at least three boys - one of them for eight years - in several Massachusetts parishes, according to church documents.

In late June, Law and McCormack met with several alleged victims, who later told McCormack the archdiocese was operating in a "circle the wagons" mentality. At that meeting, Law and McCormack told victims that Tourigney would not return to parish work, according to their letter.

But the archdiocesan response was too slow and meager for a victim named James, who hired a lawyer.

"However, even though Fr. Tourigney was allowed to remain a Priest, his behavior was not addressed and my client was totally ignored," wrote the lawyer. "He was not comforted or offered counseling. He was neglected and made to believe that the Church had no compassion or desire to confront Fr. Tourigney and remove him from contact with Parishioners."

Two months later - and eight months after their initial meeting with Law and McCormack - Tourigney's victims still weren't satisfied by the archdiocese's actions. McCormack, they said, had promised the matter would be resolved in a meeting with Tourigney just after the holidays.

"We are into February, and while he vacations on the Cape, the Archdiocese is rife with indecision," said their letter of February 1993. "On a recent trip to Boston, I and (name blocked out) phoned your office. I left an urgent message of my itinerary, stated when I would be leaving, and asked to hear from you. It is now February 20, 1993 and neither I nor (name blocked out) have heard a word from you."

More than a month later, McCormack tried to set up a meeting between Law and one of the victims. The victim, McCormack said, wanted to voice his concerns about how the archdiocese handled priests who had admitted to sexual abuse.

"You may recall that after (Tourigney) was assessed at Southdown for these matters he was returned to parish ministry," McCormack wrote in March 1993. "Mr. (name blocked out) cannot get over this and wants to make sure that you and I and anyone who was responsible realizes that this should not happen again. I think it might be helpful in his healing process to meet with you for a half hour some time with me."

By May 1993, Tourigney had been placed on administrative leave. But that's not all his victims wanted of the archdiocese. The archdiocese needed to begin handling sexual abuse by priests as a criminal matter and creating investigative teams to find other abused children, they wrote to McCormack in August 1993.
The church's reluctance to do so appeared to be based on "potential negative political ramifications," they stated.

By the next spring, archdiocesan officials had become skeptical that their containment and supervision of Tourigney had reformed his urges. Tourigney, one official advised McCormack, should be asked to leave the priesthood for private life - even though he might pose a risk to the public.

"Then he would be free to accept such offers as he sees fit," the official wrote in May 1994. "It is not a happy solution, because it leaves him as a potential danger to young men, but perhaps the seriousness of the invitation might get him to think of more effective ways to deal with his problem."

No records indicate whether Tourigney left the priesthood or where he lives today.

Richard Matte

In 1992, McCormack summarized three allegations of sexual misconduct against Father Richard Matte - one of which came from a concerned priest - and admitted he was unsure how to proceed.

Matte denied the accusations but volunteered that he'd been falsely accused years before. The case had never been resolved, but Matte said he had gone for treatment.

"I am not sure what side to support in the understanding of Father Matte's behavior," McCormack wrote in Matte's personnel file. "Part of me sees him as being very indiscreet. He also speaks about not remembering things. Then I wonder whether he is denying."

McCormack sent Matte to a Maryland treatment center for an assessment. The file does not include the center's response, but by the time an additional allegation came to McCormack's office in April 1993, Matte was at a Canadian treatment center the church used often.

In a letter to Matte, McCormack relayed the new allegations and offered support. "I am sure this report will be upsetting to you, Dick," he wrote. "If there is something I can do to help, Dick, let me know. You are in my prayers."

McCormack continued to offer support, even deciding against asking Matte to remove himself from the priesthood for fear he was already too emotionally unstable. At the time, McCormack knew Matte had told doctors the accusations weren't entirely untrue, according to the records.

McCormack and his review board decided in November 1993 that Matte should find a counselor and work outside of public ministry. They would not put him in a parish or in a role where he'd be near adolescent males.

In May 1994, McCormack took two more allegations to Matte and noted in the file that Matte was devastated. Again he was supportive.

Matte didn't like the place McCormack had found for him, so McCormack offered to keep looking. "He has to park his car on the street," McCormack wrote. "He is fearful it could be stolen or damaged."

Matte's file ends with an April 1998 memo detailing another complaint from a man who said Matte's abuse had made it impossible to have a close relationship with his son and wife.

"He is . . . afraid that maybe he can never change, even though he wants to," wrote the nun who spoke with him.

McCormack’s deposition order released

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
June 7, 2002

Cambridge, Mass. -- A superior court judge ruled transcripts of New Hampshire Bishop John McCormack’s deposition in a civil lawsuit should be made public, but gave the bishop’s attorney a day to appeal.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond Brassard said McCormack’s first day of testimony Monday was a matter of great public interest and should be released.

He also said the time gap between McCormack’s first day of deposition and his second – which was scheduled for June 17 – was too long to justify waiting until McCormack’s deposition was completed to release a transcript.

Brassard gave McCormack’s attorney Timothy O’Neill until 4 p.m. today to appeal. The documents could not be released until after that time.

Outside court, O’Neill said he was not sure if he would appeal. He did say, however, that he thinks the case is being tried in the court of public opinion, not in a court of law.

O’Neill and Wilson Rogers Jr., an attorney for the Boston Archdiocese, questioned whether Brassard should even issue a ruling after an order earlier Thursday that put all civil cases of clergy sexual abuse under one judge, Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney.

“We’re looking for consistent rulings from the bench,” O’Neill said.

The order by Superior Court Chief Justice Suzanne DelVecchio kept all pending motions in the cases in front of their current judges.

Brassard said he had jurisdiction because of his earlier ruling that a deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law should be released in the Rev. Paul Shanley case.

Brassard said he wanted to treat equally all church officials who were deposed.

His ruling in Law’s case contradicted Sweeney, who chided lawyers in Suffolk Superior Court after a transcript and videotape of Law’s deposition in the case of defrocked priest John Geoghan was immediately release.

Sweeney said the release was a major breach of court rules.

The decision to put Sweeney in charge of all civil cases was hailed by attorney Jeffrey Newman, who was one of three lawyers who filed a motion seeking the consolidation.

Sweeney has spent the last year overseeing nearly 90 lawsuits against Geoghan, who is serving a 9- to 10-year sentence after being convicted of molestation.

Newman, who has 48 lawsuits pending against the church and church officials, said the decision will streamline the process and making all rulings on evidence consistent.

Judge delays public release of Law depositions

By Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer
Boston (MA) Globe
June 8, 2002

After a legal showdown involving more than a dozen lawyers for the Catholic Church, alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse, and the news media, Appeals Court Judge Gordon L. Doerfer yesterday delayed the public release of written transcripts and videotapes of depositions given by Cardinal Bernard F. Law and Manchester, N.H., Bishop John B. McCormack.

Law's personal attorney, J. Owen Todd, argued that the piecemeal release of the cardinal's pre-trial testimony - before the complete transcripts are reviewed for potential errors - could impair Law's right to a fair trial.

But Robert Sherman, an attorney for alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, said the public has a right to evaluate each day of testimony by church officials. He accused lawyers for Law and the archdiocese of "trying to have it both ways" by speaking publicly about Law's testimony while opposing the quick release of transcripts of his remarks.

At the close of Doerfer's afternoon hearing - scheduled with little notice after last-minute appeals by attorneys for Law, McCormack, and the Boston Archdiocese - Doerfer said he would reach a decision on the release of testimony by Law and McCormack early next week. The hearing was held just hours after Law completed a morning session of pretrial testimony in the Shanley cases, and just hours before the scheduled release of his and McCormack's partial depositions.

The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese who attended the deposition, declined to discuss details of the cardinal's testimony but said that the questions posed to Law covered the years from 1977 through 1984, when he was named archbishop of Boston, and that Law said he accepted responsibility for some decisions made by subordinates.

"When asked, he did respond by saying, `Ultimately, I was the one who made the decision,' " Coyne said.

But Paula and Rodney Ford, parents of an alleged Shanley victim who also attended the deposition, said they were distressed by what Law had to say.

"He kept reverting to poor record-keeping again," Paula Ford said. "The fact of the matter is that there was a secret file and it appears to us, after having listened to him for three hours, that the file was kept secret only from themselves. The records were there. They chose not to read them."

Rodney Ford said Law was asked if, when he promoted Shanley to pastor, it would have been common sense for him to check the Shanley file for potentially damaging information. "His answer: No, it was not common sense to check the files."

Doerfer could refer the matter to a full panel of the Appeals Court. And a decision by him to release the pretrial testimony of church officials before it is completed could be appealed to the state Supreme Judicial Court.

Jeffrey A. Newman, another attorney for alleged Shanley victims, said he favors the quick release of pretrial testimony from church officials but praised Doerfer's decision to delay a ruling until next week. "It's important for the long run that he try and carefully balance the interests of the litigants with the public's right to know," Newman said.

The issue of whether pretrial testimony can be released before an entire deposition is complete comes after contradictory rulings on the matter from two Superior Court judges.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney, ruling in cases filed by alleged victims of former priest John J. Geoghan, has said Law's pretrial testimony cannot be made public until an entire deposition is complete and Law is given 30 days to review a transcript for any potential errors. Sweeney also ruled that a videotape of Law's testimony will not be made public unless Law is unavailable for trial.

By contrast, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond J. Brassard, ruling in cases filed by alleged victims of Shanley, said written transcripts and videotapes of pretrial testimony by Law and McCormack could be made public once they are certified by court reporters. It was Brassard's rulings that were appealed yesterday.

Meanwhile, an attorney said yesterday he will file a lawsuit next week on behalf of a woman who alleges that she was sexually abused from 1972 to 1974 by two priests who were overseen by Law when Law was vicar general of the Jackson, Miss., diocese.

Anthony R. Simon, an attorney for the woman, whose name has not been made public, said she was 12 when the alleged abuse began at St. Peter's parish in Jackson, where the two priests - the Revs. George L. Broussard and Thomas Boyce - were stationed together for a time.

Reached this week, Broussard, 67, who is no longer a priest and lives in Houma, La., at first flatly denied the complaints, but later said, "I'm neither affirming nor denying the allegations." Boyce, who remains a priest and is assigned to St. Mary's parish in Batesville, Miss., is on vacation and did not return a call for comment. The Jackson diocese also did not return a call for comment.

According to Simon, the suit will charge that Law knew about Broussard's alleged abuse but failed to take action and "knew or should have known" about alleged abuse by Boyce. Named as defendants will be Broussard, Boyce, Law, and the Jackson diocese, he said.

Simon said he represents additional people who allege they were abused by Broussard and Boyce.

One of them is Kenneth P. Morrison, who says he was molested by Broussard in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Morrison also alleges that Broussard continued to abuse him even after his father told Law that Morrison's brothers were being molested.

In a deposition Wednesday, Law acknowledged that he was alerted to Broussard's alleged abuse, according to the parents of an alleged Shanley victim who attended the deposition.


Original material copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.