Bishop Accountability
 
  Manchester NH Resources
March 1
–4, 2003

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Church seeks to restrict lawyer; Says remarks may block fair trial

By Michael Rezendes
Boston (MA) Globe
March 1, 2003

http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/stories4/030103_macleish.htm

The Boston Archdiocese has formally accused attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. of making public statements that could prevent Cardinal Bernard F. Law and other church officials from receiving fair trials in two clergy sexual abuse cases, and is preparing to ask a Superior Court judge to restrict his public comments on the lawsuits.

In a court motion served Thursday evening, the church also accused MacLeish of violating the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers, citing 31 specific statements he has made to the news media and a recent speech he delivered at Boston University Law School.

''A protective order is the only manner in which to ensure that Mr. MacLeish will not make any additional extrajudicial statements which will further erode the right of the defendants to receive fair trials,'' the church said in its motion.

But MacLeish said yesterday that his statements are well within ethical bounds, and rooted in legal documents already made public. He also noted that the church has frequently commented on the lawsuits through its archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, and through attorneys such as J. Owen Todd, who has publicly criticized the Superior Court judge overseeing the lawsuits, Constance M. Sweeney.

''The open comments Owen Todd has made critical of Judge Sweeney have been the subject of extensive discussion,'' MacLeish said. ''And I would never think of trying to prevent Owen from expressing his opinion because I know he has a First Amendment right to do so.''

Todd, who is Law's personal attorney, said he would not comment on the church's motion. But Joseph L. Doherty, an attorney for Bishop John B. McCormack, said, ''The purpose of the motion is to require compliance with the rules and prevent any further prejudice as we move toward trial.''

Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse said the church's latest legal maneuver undercuts Bishop Richard G. Lennon's repeated assertions that the archdiocese wants to settle approximately 500 sexual abuse claims quickly to avoid the trauma, risk, and expense of going to trial.

''It's just one more sign that there is little reason to hope Bishop Lennon's tenure will be any different than Law's,'' said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Clohessy, citing what he described as a pattern of aggressive legal tactics used by the church, also noted an earlier church decision to require pretrial testimony from psychotherapists treating abuse victims, and a recent motion to have all the sexual abuse claims dismissed on freedom of religion grounds, under the First Amendment.

''They're trying to use the First Amendment when it's to their advantage and ignoring it when it works against them,'' he said.

The motion for an order limiting MacLeish's freedom to comment on the cases was signed by attorneys for Law, who resigned as archbishop in December, and two of his former subordinates, McCormack, now the bishop of the Manchester, N.H., diocese, and Bishop Thomas V. Daily of the Brooklyn-Queens dioceese. All three are defendants in two civil lawsuits filed by alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley that are expected to go to trial in the spring.

More than 200 other claims by victims are subject to a 90-day legal truce -- a so-called ''stand-down'' -- that was established to allow attorneys for the church and alleged victims time to explore an out-of-court financial settlement. But MacLeish and his cocounsel, Jeffrey A. Newman, said they interpret the motion to restrict MacLeish's public comments as a sign that the church is more inclined to vigorously contest cases than to settle.

''If they want a war, they're going to get one,'' MacLeish said.

The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said Lennon and the archdiocese remain committed to an out-of-court financial settlement.

The rules of conduct cited by the church in its motion prohibit lawyers from making statements ''that will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding.''

But the rule also says lawyers are permitted to describe public legal documents, including depositions and other legal records. The rules, authorities say, are interpreted to take account of the complex balance between a defendant's right to a fair trial, an attorney's right to free expression, and the vital public interests that may be at stake in a legal proceeding.

''The rule is designed to prevent prejudice in adjudicative proceedings but it also takes into account a First Amendment protection to speak out,'' said Arnold R. Rosenfeld, the former head of the state board that oversees the conduct of lawyers.

Rosenfeld also said that Sweeney, when she considers the church motion, might determine that MacLeish's public comments were permissible if she finds that he was careful to limit his comments to publicly filed church documents.

Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics specialist at New York University School of Law who is familiar with Massachusetts rules of conduct, also said public comments that restate what has been placed in the public records are permitted, and that rules on professional conduct accommodate an attorney's right to free speech.

But Gillers also said Sweeney may find that MacLeish strayed from permissible conduct by interpreting or characterizing thousands of pages of deposition transcripts and internal church documents in a manner that may harm defendants.

Sweeney has expressed concern about some public remarks by MacLeish and the effect they may have on the ability of church officials to receive a fair trial in Greater Boston. At a court hearing last June, for example, Sweeney said, ''I just see the continuing erosion of what I see as the ability to get a fair and neutral jury pool.''

Sweeney did not mention MacLeish by name at the hearing, but the timing of her remarks made it clear she was referring to a 2 1/2-hour presentation MacLeish made to the news media last April, after the release of 800 pages of church records in the Shanley case.

''I'm making no secret of how taken aback I was by what I saw on TV,'' Sweeney said. Referring to the rules of conduct for lawyers, she added: ''This judge is going to monitor whether these rules are being complied with.''



Reports cite handling of abuse claims

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 3, 2003

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=378&ArticleID=74933

Concord, N.H. -- With 9,000 pages of church documents and a report containing details of the cases against eight priests, the state attorney general’s office plans to lay out how New Hampshire’s Roman Catholic hierarchy mishandled sex abuse accusations for decades.

The attorney general’s office was scheduled to release a nearly 200-page report today with the evidence it would have used in seeking criminal charges against the Diocese of Manchester. The church documents – including personnel files, correspondence and other material – will accompany the report.

In an unprecedented settlement in December, the diocese agreed its conduct had harmed children and that it probably would have been convicted of child endangerment, a misdemeanor, but for the settlement.

The diocese will release its own report today to explain how it handled allegations in the past and to contrast that with how they are dealt with now.

The state’s report will focus on eight clergymen, The Associated Press has learned. Officials have said the eight were not selected because of the seriousness of the allegations against them, but because their cases contained strong evidence the diocese had mishandled the molestation complaints.

Thousands of pages of church documents have been released in Massachusetts in the past year by lawyers for victims and alleged victims suing the church. And three weeks ago, a grand jury in New York issued a scathing report accusing the Diocese of Rockville Centre of sheltering molesters and failing to protect children.

The New Hampshire documents and reports may provide an even more comprehensive look at the inner workings of a diocese than those in Boston or Rockville Centre, however.

Though the New Hampshire diocese resisted providing the documents to prosecutors during their investigation last year, church officials agreed to their public release as part of the settlement.

Bishop John B. McCormack declined to comment on the pending release of the documents. Last week, however, McCormack told a meeting of the state’s priests and deacons that ending secrecy is critical to healing the church.

“By being truthful and open, we can remove any doubt that there are secrets held from you; we can remove the doubt that you are worthy of trust,” he said.

McCormack is named in the documents and state report, but prosecutors focused on incidents prior to 1998, when he became bishop of Manchester.

Two of the eight priests focused on in the state report are in prison for criminal sexual assault convictions. A source speaking on condition of anonymity identified them as the Rev. Gordon MacRae, convicted of molesting four boys during the 1980s, and the Rev. Roger Fortier, convicted of assaulting two Farmington boys during the 1990s.

The six other priests profiled in the state report have been accused of abuse in civil lawsuits.

The source identified them as:

- The Rev. Paul Aube, who has acknowledged molesting several minors during the 1970s.

- The Rev. Albert Boulanger, accused of abuse in Concord, Berlin and Ashland between 1960 and 1980.

- The Rev. Gerald Chalifour, accused of abuse in Allenstown and Farmington during the 1960s and 1970s.

- The Rev. Robert J. Densmore, accused of molesting three New London minors during the 1970s.

- The Rev. Raymond H. Laferriere, accused of abuse in Hudson and Manchester during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

- Leo Landry, a former priest accused of abuse in Berlin, Manchester and Somersworth during the 1960s and 1970s.

Five of the eight – all but MacRae, Fortier and Landry – were identified by the diocese in February 2002 as being the subject of credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the past.

Aube became a key part of the state investigation when he told prosecutors last year that church officials insisted he continue working with children even after he admitted sexual misconduct with minors and asked for help. The diocese has not commented on Aube’s claims.

Boulanger, Chalifour, Densmore and Laferriere are retired. None has a listed telephone and they could not be reached for comment. The diocese would not release contact information on the priests.

Fortier was convicted in 1998 of assaulting two minors during the 1990s. He later pleaded guilty to trying to assault another minor. He is serving 20 to 40 years in prison. Calls to his lawyer were not immediately returned.

Landry left the priesthood in 1972 to marry. He has been accused of abusing nine minors. Landry’s telephone was out of service. In April 2002, he denied the first allegation against him.

MacRae was convicted in 1994 of raping a 15-year-old boy in 1983. He is serving 33½ to 67 years in prison. He later pleaded guilty to assaulting three other boys.

In an interview in prison last week, MacRae maintained his innocence, saying the boys lied. He has sought help from the diocese to prove his innocence.



Diocese responds to state’s report on church abuse

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 3, 2003

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=74986

Concord, N.H. -- Bishop John McCormack apologized to victims of sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests Monday, but the church also said it did not “necessarily agree” with everything in a state report detailing how the Manchester Diocese mishandled abuse cases.

The attorney general’s office was scheduled to release a nearly 200-page report Monday with the evidence it would have used in seeking criminal charges against the diocese.

The state also was set to release 9,000 pages of church documents – including personnel files, correspondence and other material – to accompany the report.

A small portion of the documents were being held back at the last minute because a priest named in them got a court order Monday barring their release, said Will Delker, a senior assistant attorney general. That delayed the release of the state’s report.

The diocese put out its own report Monday to explain how it handled allegations against priests in the past and to contrast that with how such cases are dealt with now. The church said it will now removes a priest after one credible allegation of abuse.

“On behalf of myself and leaders of the church in New Hampshire – past and present – we are sorry for our inadequacies, but most of all we are sorry for the harm done to persons who were abused by priests and to the Catholic faithful who have been scandalized,” McCormack wrote in an introductory letter.

In an unprecedented settlement in December, the diocese agreed its conduct had harmed children and that it probably would have been convicted of child endangerment, a misdemeanor, but for the settlement.

The state’s report planned to focus on eight clergymen, The Associated Press has learned. Officials have said the eight were not selected because of the seriousness of the allegations against them, but because their cases contained strong evidence the diocese had mishandled the molestation complaints.

Thousands of pages of church documents have been released in Massachusetts during the past year by lawyers for victims and alleged victims suing the church. And three weeks ago, a grand jury in New York issued a scathing report accusing the Diocese of Rockville Centre of sheltering molesters and failing to protect children.

The New Hampshire documents and reports may provide an even more comprehensive look at the inner workings of a diocese than those in Boston or Rockville Centre, however.

Though the New Hampshire diocese resisted providing the documents to prosecutors during their investigation last year, church officials agreed to their public release as part of the settlement.

McCormack is named in the documents and state report, but prosecutors focused on incidents prior to 1998, when he became bishop of Manchester.

In his letter, McCormack said one of the most important lessons the church has learned is that “a person who has sexually abused a minor cannot be adequately supervised or monitored.”

But the diocese also said it doesn’t “necessarily agree with all aspects of (the state’s) final analysis.” The report said the church could have mounted a vigorous defense if charged criminally, but doing so would not have helped victims.

Two of the eight priests at the center of the state investigation are in prison for criminal sexual assault convictions. The six others have been accused of abuse in civil lawsuits.

Among them is the Rev. Paul Aube, who has acknowledged molesting several minors during the 1970s.

Aube became a key part of the state investigation when he told prosecutors last year that church officials insisted he continue working with children even after he admitted sexual misconduct with minors and asked for help. The diocese has not commented on Aube’s claims.



Text of Bishop McCormack’s message

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 3, 2003

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=74988

Manchester, N.H. -- Here is the text of Bishop John B. McCormack’s message included in the Diocese of Manchester’s response to the attorney general’s investigation:

“Restoring Trust: A Report to the People of New Hampshire by the Diocese of Manchester” faces the past in our Diocese and points the way to move forward as Church. Although the part of our past that involves the sexual abuse of children by some priests and how the Diocese responded to allegations of abuse is painful to learn, it is also a painful learning experience. One of the most important lessons learned is this:

A person who has sexually abused a minor cannot be adequately supervised or monitored.That is why today, if there is even one credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, the Diocese will remove the priest from ministry, and if the accusation is determined to be true, that priest will not be allowed to serve in ministry again.

Child sexual abuse is a terrible crime in the Church and in society. It causes indescribable harm in the life of a minor. Child sexual abuse is an affront to the dignity of the person, and it violates every principle of profound respect for human life that the Gospel entails. We understand that this crime tears at the heart of the human family. Those who have made such reports, even reports made many, many years after the abuse occurred, are courageous. I commend them for coming forward.

On behalf of myself and leaders of the Church in New Hampshire – past and present – we are sorry for our inadequacies, but most of all we are sorry for the harm done to persons who were abused by priests and to the Catholic faithful who have been scandalized.

The standards used to protect children and young people in the Church must be stated clearly and implemented consistently.

– Every suspicion or report of child sexual abuse is taken seriously. The first response is to the person who reports being harmed as a child, even if she or he is now an adult.

– Adequate structures are to be maintained in order to ensure effective, legitimate cooperation between civil and church authorities.

– The rights and responsibilities of persons accused of the crime of child sexual abuse will be protected by due civil and canonical legal processes.

The Church ought to be a sanctuary for every human person, especially for children and young people. Sanctuary means protection from injustice. As we, the Church, work together to help victims heal, we also work to help care for persons who have harmed others. As challenging as these tasks are, our firm hope in the ways of the Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit within us ensures our success. We will have a safe Church, one that witnesses the life of Christ in us by rooting ourselves in His healing truth and love.

The forthright acknowledgment of failures in the past empowers us to move forward toward a hopeful and brighter future. While no one can change the past, together we can all shape the future. The wounds of adult survivors have been exposed. May the work of bringing the Lord Jesus to those harmed and to those who have harmed be a moment of grace in the life of the Church.

As you read this report, I ask that you take note not only of our admission of past inadequate responses and practices but also our planting the seeds that ensure our Church will be a better and safer community of faith. To succeed, we need to work together to make and keep our Church safe and holy.

Christ in all things.

John B. McCormack
Bishop of Manchester



N.H. releases 9,000 pages on mishandling of church sex abuse accusations

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 3, 2003

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=74987

Concord, N.H. -- With 9,000 pages of church documents and a report, the state attorney general’s office on Monday laid out how New Hampshire’s Roman Catholic hierarchy mishandled sex abuse accusations for decades.

The 154-page report details evidence prosecutors would have used in seeking criminal charges against the Diocese of Manchester, charges averted in December by a settlement. Prosecutors acknowledged that the diocese addressed some molestation complaints with steps including getting counseling for the priest.

But, prosecutors said, “The state was prepared to prove that the steps taken by the diocese were so ineffective that they did not negate the fact that the diocese ’knowingly’ endangered the the welfare of a minor.”

As planned, the diocese released its own report Monday apologizing for how it handled allegations in the past and contrasting that with how they are dealt with now.

“Child sexual abuse is a terrible crime in the church and in society,” Bishop John B. McCormack said in an introductory letter. “Child sexual abuse is an affront to the dignity of the person, and it violates every principle of profound respect for human life that the gospel entails.”

He praised victims for their courage in coming forward and apologized for the harm done to them.

In the unprecedented settlement, the diocese agreed its conduct had harmed children and that it probably would have been convicted of child endangerment, a misdemeanor, but for the settlement.

In its report Monday, however, the diocese said it doesn’t “necessarily agree with all aspects of (the state’s) final analysis.” It said it could have mounted a vigorous defense, but doing so would not have helped victims.

The church report detailed lessons learned by the diocese during the past year. They include the need to pay more attention to victims, involving civil authorities in investigations and having more than one person handle allegations.

Thousands of pages of church documents have been released in Massachusetts during the past year by lawyers for victims and alleged victims suing the church. And three weeks ago, a grand jury in New York issued a scathing report accusing the Diocese of Rockville Centre of sheltering molesters and failing to protect children.

The New Hampshire documents and reports may provide an even more comprehensive look at the inner workings of a diocese than those in Boston or Rockville Centre, however.

McCormack is named in the New Hampshire documents and state report, but prosecutors focused on incidents before he became bishop of Manchester in 1998.

The state’s report was to focus on eight clergymen, The Associated Press learned. Officials have said the eight were not selected because of the seriousness of the allegations against them, but because their cases contained strong evidence the diocese had mishandled the molestation complaints.

Two of the eight priests focused on in the state report are in prison for criminal sexual assault convictions. A source speaking on condition of anonymity identified them as the Rev. Gordon MacRae, convicted of molesting four boys during the 1980s, and the Rev. Roger Fortier, convicted of assaulting two Farmington boys during the 1990s.

The six other priests profiled in the state report have been accused of abuse in civil lawsuits.

The source identified them as:

–The Rev. Paul Aube, who has acknowledged molesting several minors during the 1970s.

–The Rev. Albert Boulanger, accused of abuse in Concord, Berlin and Ashland between 1960 and 1980.

–The Rev. Gerald Chalifour, accused of abuse in Allenstown and Farmington during the 1960s and 1970s.

–The Rev. Robert J. Densmore, accused of molesting three New London minors during the 1970s.

–The Rev. Raymond H. Laferriere, accused of abuse in Hudson and Manchester during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

–Leo Landry, a former priest accused of abuse in Berlin, Manchester and Somersworth during the 1960s and 1970s.

Five of the eight – all but MacRae, Fortier and Landry – were identified by the diocese in February 2002 as being the subject of credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the past.

Aube became a key of the state investigation when he told prosecutors last year that church officials insisted he continue working with children even after he admitted sexual misconduct with minors and asked for help. The diocese has not commented on Aube’s claims.

Boulanger, Chalifour, Densmore and Laferriere are retired. None has a listed telephone and they could not be reached for comment. The diocese would not release contact information on the priests.

Fortier was convicted in 1998 of assaulting two minors during the 1990s. He later pleaded guilty to trying to assault another minor. He is serving 20 to 40 years in prison. Calls to his lawyer were not immediately returned.

Landry left the priesthood in 1972 to marry. He has been accused of abusing nine minors. Landry’s telephone was out of service. In April 2002, he denied the first allegation against him.

MacRae was convicted in 1994 of raping a 15-year-old boy in 1983. He is serving 331/2 to 67 years in prison. He later pleaded guilty to assaulting three other boys.

In an interview in prison last week, MacRae maintained his innocence, saying the boys lied. He has sought help from the diocese to prove his innocence.

One priest named in the documents obtained a court order Monday barring their release. Will Delker, a senior assistant attorney general, said the development affected only a small portion of the documents.



Files will detail church’s failure to protect abused children

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
March 3, 2003

Today's release of 9,000 pages of investigative files will focus on how church leaders' mishandled the cases of eight Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse.

Widely anticipated by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, survivors of clergy abuse and prosecutors across the nation, the files will detail how the church failed to protect children from abusive priests from the late 1950s to the 1990s.

It follows the Feb. 10 release of a Long Island, N.Y., grand jury's 180-page report charging the Rockville Centre diocese, the nation's sixth largest, with protecting sexually abusive priests.

Victims say the files will provide hard evidence of what they have been saying for years: that priests had abused children and church leaders knew about it.

"When law enforcement officials can pry actual documents from church leaders and put the facts before the public, it's very healing for survivors, and it's very illustrative for parishioners," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The Catholic Diocese of Manchester was the first in the nation to admit its failure to protect minors from abusive priests and could have resulted in a criminal conviction under the state's child endangerment statute.

The state's release of the documents is a key part of the Dec. 10 agreement Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack struck with former state Attorney General Philip T. McLaughlin under threat of criminal indictments.

The 9,000 pages include church files on about 40 accused priests and involve at least 80 victims whose names have been redacted. The documents also include the state's 154-page report on the investigation and transcripts of interviews with abusive priests.

The release of documents will not include files of about a half-dozen priests whose cases remain under criminal investigation.

The documents include thousands of pages of once-confidential church personnel files the diocese was forced to turn over to investigators last June under a court order and grand jury subpoena.

"The experience we have been through I would characterize as painful beyond measure, but necessary for us to reach a place in society where we see child sexual abuse as something that we will never tolerate and will do everything we can to prevent," said the Rev. Edward J. Arsenault, diocesan chancellor.

"There is no hope for prevention until we shed light on the past," he said, noting diocesan officials hope the agreement will help restore trust in church leaders.

The diocese will issue a 12- to 15-page companion report this morning as allowed under the agreement. "Restoring Trust: A Report to the People of New Hampshire" will be available on its Web site, www.catholichurchnh.org.

While the investigative files will detail the cases of about 40 priests, they will focus most intensely on the eight priests, prosecutors said.

They are the Revs. Paul L. Aube, Gerald F. Chalifour, Gordon J. MacRae, Roger A. Fortier, Leo P. Landry, Robert J. Densmore, Raymond H. Laferriere and Albert L. Boulanger, a prosecutor said.

MacRae and Fortier were convicted in separate trials in the 1990s of sexually abusing minors and are serving state prison terms.

Landry, who lives in Rochester, N.H., is the target of several civil suits in New Hampshire, some of which have been settled. He was a member of the Stigmatine Fathers, which ran a seminary in Wellesley, Mass.

The remaining five clerics are diocesan priests whose names were on the original list of 14 priests who had past credible child sexual abuse allegations against them; the list was released by the diocese Feb. 15, 2002.

The eight priests' cases became the crux of the attorney general's 10-month criminal probe and led to prosecutors' decision to seek criminal indictments against the diocese.

Investigators focused on these eight priests because they not only had numerous child sexual abuse allegations against them, but the diocese also appeared to have known about their behavior.

After obtaining thousands of pages of church files last June, the attorney general formed a task force of six primary investigators who criss-crossed the state, interviewing dozens of abuse victims.

"I think what stunned you the most is the fact that I think you practically have to commit murder to get defrocked as a priest," said Sgt. Brenda M. Blonigen of the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department, a task force member.

Investigators also interviewed about six accused priests who were given limited immunity in exchange for their cooperation.

"Without those interviews, we wouldn't have been able to understand the entirety and the enormity of what occurred," said Assistant Attorney General James D. Rosenberg, a lead prosecutor in the investigation.

Limited immunity is a standard tactic in prosecuting crimes and does not bar someone from future prosecution.

Senior Assistant Attorney General N. William Delker, lead prosecutor on the criminal probe, said he already has seen changes in the church's handling of child sexual abuse.

"The diocese felt that they could handle those types of cases, and they didn't need to report to anyone," Delker said.

"They recognize that they can't police themselves on these issues. They recognize that they need to rely on law enforcement," he said.

Several task force members said most of the clerics they investigated were overseen by former Manchester Bishop Odore J. Gendron and Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Christian. A few involved the late Bishop Leo E. O'Neil.

Delker said the investigation revealed "a handful" of cases handled by McCormack, who became bishop in 1998. None involved situations where McCormack knew of an abusive priest yet allowed him to remain in ministry, he said.

"He took them out of ministry. . . or there were cases where the person already was out of ministry when allegations came in," Delker said.



Church abuse, Diocese chronology

Manchester (NH) Union Leader
March 3, 2003

Key dates in the history of the Diocese of Manchester:

* 1944: Bishop Matthew F. Brady appointed bishop.

* 1959: Bishop Ernest J. Primeau appointed bishop.

* 1974: Bishop Odore J. Gendron appointed bishop.

* 1989: Bishop Leo E. O'Neil appointed bishop.

* 1998: Bishop John B. McCormack appointed bishop.

* Early February 2002: Attorney General's Office begins criminal investigation of the diocese

* Feb. 15, 2002: Diocese gives prosecutors the names of 14 priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors 15 or more years ago.

* March 2002: McCormack says the diocese has paid thousands of dollars to victims of priest sex abuse during the past 35 years.

* April 2002: First newspaper editorial calling for McCormack to respond to accusations that he ignored allegations against priests, or resign. Class action lawsuit filed against diocese by alleged victims.

* Spring 2002: McCormack gives interviews to WMUR-TV and The Union Leader apologizing for past mistakes but saying he plans to stay on to try to heal the church.

* December 2002: State prosecutors settle with diocese, averting criminal charges.

* Feb. 25, 2003: McCormack prepares priests for document release; pledges continued reforms, openness and honesty, and help for victims.

* March 1, 2003: Documents to be released along with reports from state and the diocese.



Key players in the settlement: Bishop John McCormack

Manchester (NH) Union Leader
March 3, 2003

Since he was ordained a priest in 1960, Bishop John B. McCormack spent his ministry in the Boston archdiocese until he succeeded the late Bishop Leo E. O'Neil as Bishop of Manchester in 1998.

But after less than four years as head of New Hampshire's Catholics, his past came to haunt him.

As one of the worst crises in the Catholic church exploded on the national, and world, stage last year, McCormack found himself caught between two fronts.

On one hand, he was charged with overseeing a diocese while responding to scores of victims abused by New Hampshire priests coming forward and the diocese's past failures to protect them.

Meanwhile, he came under mounting attack for his handling of abusive priests while one of Cardinal Bernard F. Law's top deputies in Boston.

In announcing his agreement with the state attorney general, McCormack apologized for the mistakes and harm that occurred.

"The Catholic Church in New Hampshire acknowledges and accepts responsibility for the failures in our system that contributed to the endangerment of children," he said Dec. 10.

While McCormack, who would not agree to be interviewed for this article, was not involved in the day-to-day dealings with the Attorney General's Office, the agreement was reached under his direction, the Rev. Edward J. Arsenault said.

A Winthrop, Mass., native, McCormack attended Cardinal O'Connell Seminary College and graduated from St. John's Seminary in Boston in 1960.

His seminary classmates included some of the same abusive priests he would later deal with as cabinet secretary for ministerial personnel from 1984 to 1994 and as Law's delegate for sexual misconduct, a position he held from late 1992 to early 1995.

He earned his master's degree in social work from Boston College.

McCormack served in parishes in Salem, Malden, Medford and Weymouth. He was ordained auxiliary bishop of Boston in 1995 and served as Law's regional bishop for the archdiocese's southern region.



N.H. AG: Church could have faced rap in abuse cases

By Robin Washington and Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
March 4, 2003

Concord, N.H. -- The Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire agreed to mandated reforms after conceding prosecutors "had evidence likely to sustain" convictions against it on multiple counts of child endangerment, the attorney general's office said yesterday in a scathing report detailing 30 years of abuse by priests.

Unlike the case in Massachusetts, New Hampshire's child endangerment and mandatory reporting statutes, as well as certain of its corporate criminal liability laws, made possible indictments against the church and its top-ranking prelates, the report found.

But officials chose not to indict after the diocese admitted its conduct led to the abuse of still more children and accepted a set of safeguards sought by the state.

"The diocese offers no excuses for its past actions," said Bishop John B. McCormack, who became head of the diocese in 1998. "We are sorry for our failures, but most of all we are sorry for the harm done to persons who were abused by priests."

The one-time personnel chief of the Archdiocese of Boston under Bernard Cardinal Law, McCormack is under fire from victims' advocates and others for his role in handling molester priests in the Bay State.

With the public release of some 9,000 pages of damning files on abuser priests, those activists also expressed disappointment with New Hampshire authorities for striking the Dec. 10 deal with the diocese.

"I do not understand why the attorney general, on the cusp of having the first diocese in America about to be found guilty of aiding and abettting the sexual molestation of children, decided not to prosecute," said Joseph Gallagher of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors.

"I understand they say they achieved better access to records through the agreement. But I have a simple view: If people are breaking the law and you can prosecute them, you should prosecute them."

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he has yet to see substantive changes by the diocese that would address abuser priests.

"Most of what I read in McCormack's report (in response to the document release) seemed like standard PR pablum," he said.

While the attorney general's report says state prosecutors "would have had little difficulty" linking "the handling of sexually abusive priests" to top diocesan officials, the report makes no mention of McCormack or any other ranking Manchester cleric.

Instead, it focuses on eight New Hampshire priests whose careers "fairly portray the diocese's response over time" when learning of child molesters in parishes.

It also includes 23 other Granite State clerics, five order priests and 19 Bay State clergymen, including hundreds of pages of the Revs. Richard Coughlin, Thomas Donnelly, Robert Gale, Ronald Paquin and Robert Towner, who are accused of bringing minors to New Hampshire to molest them.

Among those are transcripts of interviews of priests and alleged victims with law enforcement authorities, including a former altar boy who said Paquin took him to Maine, New Hampshire, Florida and Canada as late as the 1990s.

In another transcript, of an extensive conversation last year between former priest Leo Landry and AG officials, Landry states he stopped abusing before his marriage 30 years ago.

"We got a house and, ah, lived happily ever after," he said.

But the files contain a further allegation against him as recently as the 1990s, when he was a high school teacher. "The investigation confirmed the initial suspicions that in multiple cases the diocese knew that a particular priest was sexually assaulting minors," the report says.

"The diocese took inadequate or no action to protect these children . . . (and) the priest subsequently committed additional acts of sexual abuse against children that the priest had contact with through the church," the report states.

Among the eight cited priests are:

** The Rev. Paul Aube, 61, who was ordained in 1970 and placed on administrative leave in 1994.

The diocese said it first learned of allegations against Aube in 1981, but the state found Aube was detained by Nashua police in 1975 after being caught having sex with a minor. No charges were filed.

A psychological evaluation by the church called Aube a risk to children, yet he was sent to minister in Rochester for six years, where he admitted molesting several teen boys, the report states.

** The Rev. Gordon MacRae, 49, who was suspended in 1988. He has pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and to felonious sexual assault and is serving 33 years in a Granite State prison.

The church knew of his behavior in 1983 but allowed him to remain in ministry, the report states.

The files include several detailed accusations of clergy molesting minors at the Manchester Diocese's Camp Fatima in Gilmanton Iron Works, N.H. - allegations first reported in the Herald a year ago.

In Massachusetts civil cases yesterday:

Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney denied a motion by the Boston archdiocese that would have begun the appeals process on the church's unsuccessful challenge of all civil cases on First Amendment grounds. Last week, Sweeney rejected the archdiocese's argument that the lawsuits violated the church and state protections.

In a separate motion, the archdiocese asked for more time to respond to all suits while awaiting a final ruling on the appeal.



Diocese responds to A.G. report with plan for change

By Andrew Wolfe
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 4, 2003

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=74991

Acknowledging that its handling of sexual abuse allegations was "inadequate and ineffective" in the past, the Diocese of Manchester on Monday outlined how it will change in the future.

The diocese released its own report - "Restoring Trust: A Report to the People of New Hampshire by the Diocese of Manchester" - in conjunction with the state attorney general's report on its investigation into the diocese's handling of sexual abuse allegations.

"We've put in place policies and guidelines so we don't repeat mistakes from the past," Bishop John McCormack said in a telephone interview Monday.

"Catholics will learn that the harm done by some priests was just inexcusable, unexplainable, criminal, sinful and harmful."

The report and comments by the bishop are available on the diocese Web site.

The diocese offers no excuse for its past actions, McCormack said. Catholics will find the past hard to accept, he said, but they hopefully can see that the diocese will take every action to prevent the past from repeating itself.

"We are sorry for our failures, but most of all we are sorry for the harm done to persons who were abused by priests and to the Catholic faithful who have been scandalized," McCormack said in the report.

The report acknowledges that in some cases church officials "failed to adequately confront clergy accused of sexual misconduct directly and vigorously on the strength of the victim's allegations."

When it did act, the diocese's response ranged from restricting a priest's duties and referring priests to counseling to simply urging the priest to "change his ways."

"These actions ... are inadequate and ineffective ways to deal with abusive individuals," the report states. "Essentially, the Diocese learned that a person who has sexually abused a minor cannot be adequately supervised or monitored."

Henceforth, the report states, any priest accused of sexual abuse will be immediately removed from duty - permanently, if the accusation proves true.

The diocese also pledged increased pastoral support for sexual abuse victims, mandatory sex abuse awareness training for priests and church staff, and strict cooperation in reporting allegations to law enforcement and the state.

Rather than leaving complaints to a few high-placed officials, a Diocesan Review Board - including lay members - will investigate cases and make recommendations to the bishop, the report states. Priests' personnel records also will be centralized, accessible and thorough.

Despite offering "no excuse," the diocese did take the defensive on some points, noting that law enforcement and mental health experts have a better recognition and understanding of sexual abuse and its consequences now than they did decades ago.

"Although it is no consolation to those who suffered abuse, the investigative file reveals the Diocese was not alone in its incomplete understanding of the long lasting effects of sexual abuse or how best to address allegations of abuse," the report states.

Addressing the prospect of criminal charges, the diocese said the attorney general's legal analysis contains "novel theories and approaches." The diocese expressed skepticism that it could have been held criminally responsible based on its "collective institutional knowledge or conduct" spanning six decades.

"Neither the State Report nor the investigative file supports a charge that any one person in a position of authority with the Diocese specifically intended to harm a child," the report states.

The diocese report also noted that the attorney general's investigation turned up admissions and allegations of abuse that hadn't previously been reported.

Some priests who had admitted abusing children were allowed to testify before the grand jury under immunity from prosecution, the diocese report states, and "in many instances" they revealed more there than they ever had told the diocese.

Of the roughly 9,000 pages of documents state investigators compiled, only about half came from the diocese, according to the report.

Though the diocese could have "mounted a vigorous legal defense," disputing the charges on legal and factual grounds, the report states, to do so wouldn't have helped those who actually suffered abuse at the hands of priests.



State: Church failed; Prosecutors release 9,000 pages alleging diocese covered for priests

By Kevin Landrigan
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
March 4, 2003

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=74999

Concord, N.H. -- The “willful lies’’ about priests who molested children made the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester a criminal target, prosecutors said Monday.

Even after priests admitted sexual misconduct, prosecutors said church leaders failed to monitor or properly restrict relationships that allowed these same clerics to later prey on other children.

“The investigation confirmed initial suspicions that in multiple cases, the Diocese knew that a particular priest was sexually assaulting minors, the Diocese took inadequate or no action to protect these children within the parish, and that the priest subsequently committed additional acts against children that the priest had contact with through the church,’’ according to the much-anticipated report released Monday.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Will Delker said church leaders deliberately misled victims, their families and in one case a parole officer in denying prior knowledge of past sexual abuse.

“Those willful lies, said to the victims and the public and to the parole community, were intended to prevent further publicity and this purposely violated the duty the church had to the care of children,’’ Delker said.

“This isn’t just negligence we’re talking about here.’’

Bishop John McCormack apologized in a 12-page response to the prosecutors’ report and its accompanying 9,000 pages of documents.

McCormack said the church has taken a zero-tolerance approach toward sexual misconduct by priests and is now going beyond state laws on reporting suspected abuse to authorities.

“A person who has sexually abused a minor cannot be adequately supervised or monitored. That is why today, if there is even one credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, the diocese will remove the priest from ministry and if the accusation is determined to be true, the priest will not be allowed to serve in ministry again,’’ McCormack said.

Priests feel better about how the diocese has responded, McCormack said, repeating that he had no plans to resign.

“That’s my plan. As bishop I’m committed to serve here. I want to serve and help them do this. I’ll do anything to be a good pastor,’’ he said.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, diocesan chancellor, said in the past there was not an “adequate response’’ to allegations but administrators tried to deal responsibly and compassionately with each case.

“I don’t think you will see a pattern where people were willy-nilly moved around,’’ Arsenault said.

The agreement

In December, then-Attorney General Philip McLaughlin and McCormack signed this agreement after the diocese concluded it probably would have been convicted of criminal endangerment.

McCormack agreed to five years of the state auditing the church’s future handling of abuse allegations and going beyond what state law strictly requires church officials to report.

“The state feels that the agreement with the Diocese accomplished a greater protection of children than would have resulted from a criminal trial and conviction,’’ the report said.

The yearlong probe and grand jury inquiry by prosecutors cover six decades of how the church handled sexual abuse cases but most directly focuses on eight priests.

In each case, the priests were allowed to continue some form of ministry after admitting to superiors they had at least engaged in improper sexual contact with a minor.

“The state was also prepared to establish that in some instances the Diocese was willfully blind to the danger its priests posed to children,’’ the report said.

Church officials did not entirely agree with the conclusions of prosecutors, who offered “novel theories and approaches’’ to which they said their lawyers had technical legal defenses.

But McCormack said the church decided to enter into this first-in-the-nation agreement to offer immediate improvement in handling of these cases, so victims and family members wouldn’t have to endure the public pain of a trial and to move forward in an “organized and dignified manner.”

“While no one can change the past, together we can all shape the future,’’ McCormack wrote.

“The wounds of adult survivors have been exposed. May the work of bringing the Lord Jesus to those harmed and to those who have harmed be a moment of grace in the life of the church.’’

Before McCormack

Most of the report and the documents deal with conduct before McCormack became bishop of Manchester in 1998.

A year after taking the job, however, McCormack did not dispute the view of Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian that the punishment against the Rev. Gordon MacRae for raping boys was too harsh.

“The sentencing in the (victim’s name) case was not proportionate to the sentencing in similar cases. He was convicted as a pedophile. The (same name) children possibly lied,’’ McCormack wrote in a memo contained in MacRae’s file.

MacRae was convicted in 1994 of raping a 15-year-old boy back in 1983 and is serving 33½ to 67 years in prison. He later pleaded guilty to assaulting three other boys.

Last week, MacRae maintained his innocence, said the boys lied and is still appealing to church officials to help prove his innocence.

The Rev. Paul Aube, 61, had the most abuse allegations against him – 19 – and these included a fondling incident discovered by Nashua police in December 1975 but with no charges filed.

Aube and two other priests told their stories to investigators in return for limited immunity from prosecution about the specific information they offered.

Shortly after the Nashua episode, now-retired Bishop Odore Gendron transferred Aube for the first of several times.

Aube complained to Gendron in 1975 that he should not continue working with children.

Gendron moved Aube to a Rochester parish to help restore a youth ministry that was in disarray and later praised Aube as being “effective’’ in dealing with children despite his misgivings.

Other church officials would later assure victims and their families there was no instance of abuse by Aube before 1981.

Church officials also maintained after 1981 that they did not allow Aube to have contact with children.

Yet a man recently told state prosecutors that Aube tried to rape him as a 16-year-old in the chapel of Manchester’s Elliot Hospital in 1982.

Aube went on sabbatical in 1993, but the church did not strip him of his ministry until prosecutors and church officials named him publicly for the first time last Feb. 15.

Now-retired, the Rev. Gerald Chalifour denied charges he repeatedly assaulted a boy while pastor of St. Kathryn Church in Hudson from 1968-70.

“Chalifour’s claim that he did not sexually abuse (the Hudson boy) or the other victims is simply not credible,’’ state prosecutors concluded.

Christian said he believed the victim and instructed Chalifour to pay out of his own pocket $15,000 to settle a civil lawsuit.

Christian then instructed the man in December 1992 that after agreeing to a confidentiality agreement as part of the settlement, the man could not speak to law enforcement without the church’s permission.

“If Gerry should be arrested in the future, you may come forward only after consulting with the diocese. In other words, your testimony could very well be unnecessary if the facts of the case at hand are clear enough and/or if other witnesses have already come forward,’’ Christian wrote.

During the 1998 trial of the Rev. Roger Fortier, Christian told a Strafford County parole officer the church had no prior knowledge that Fortier had molested young boys until charges surfaced in Farmington during the 1990s.

“His sexual problems with youth were unknown to the Diocese and it is, in my mind, unfortunate that he did not make use of his time in treatment to deal with these other issues,’’ Christian wrote.

Strafford County prosecutors were unaware Fortier had been the target of a Derry police investigation in 1984 for fondling youths while inviting them over to watch homosexual pornography and to drink beer.

The files refer to interviews Christian had with Derry police about those allegations.

A year after the incidents, Christian questioned a Derry officer about where the probe was headed because Fortier was suffering heart problems as a result of the investigation.

This seems to be an example of what state prosecutors refer to in their report as church officials making “apparently false statements’’ about their prior knowledge of priest misconduct.

“This conduct may have constituted perjury, false swearing, or unsworn falsification,” the report said.

Derry police never charged Fortier because they said the statute of limitations had run out on the conduct.

In a statement Monday, Christian claimed he thought Strafford County investigators knew about the Derry probe involving Fortier.

“When I stated that Roger Fortier’s ‘sexual problems with youth were unknown to the Diocese,’ I was referring to the serious nature of sexual assault for which he had just been tried and convicted,’’ Christian said.

“As I look back now, it is clear to me that his previous behavior in Derry was sexual misconduct, and I wish that I had not made the statement . . . in the manner that I did.”

The other priests among the eight primary subjects in this report were:

- The retired Rev. Raymond Laferriere, accused of abuse in Hudson, Manchester and Milford in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

- The late Rev. Albert Boulanger, accused of abuse from 1964-83 in Concord, Berlin and while serving as both a Nashua church pastor and assistant, and as a summer camp director in the Lakes Region.

- The now-retired Rev. Robert Densmore, accused of molesting three New London minors in the 1970s.

- Former priest and retired teacher Leo Landry, accused of abuse in Berlin, Manchester and Somersworth in the 1960s and 1970s.

Another priest, the Rev. Roland Cote, got a court order Monday barring the release of documents about his relationship with a male teen-ager who was not a minor.

McCormack disclosed Cote’s relationship to parishioners last summer at a Jaffrey church.

After a brief hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, Justice Kathleen McGuire took the request under advisement.



N.H. report lambastes diocese on priest abuse

By Michael Rezendes and Stephen Kurkjian
Boston (MA) Globe
March 4, 2003

Concord, N.H. -- The state attorney general issued a scathing critique of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester yesterday, saying that for decades its officials had demonstrated ''flagrant indifference'' to dangers posed to children by abusive priests and violated criminal law by assigning known offenders to parish ministries.

The 154-page report was the product of a 10-month investigation and an agreement that allowed the diocese, which includes parishes statewide, to avoid criminal indictment. The report said that 50 priests had been credibly accused of abusing minors over the last 60 years and that ''the diocese took inadequate or no action'' to stop the abuse.

Among the offenders was the Rev. Paul Aube, who knew himself to be a risk to children and asked church officials to bar him from working with minors. But the church assigned him to youth ministry at Holy Rosary Church in Rochester.

There was also the Rev. Raymond Laferriere, who was allowed to continue his ministry even after a complaint that he had brought two youths to his rectory bedroom and showed them pornographic pictures he kept on his wall.

Another priest, the Rev. Gordon MacRae, found an advocate in Bishop John B. McCormack, even after MacRae was sentenced to serve up to 67 years in prison for child abuse. McCormack told Vatican officials in 1999 that he thought the sentence imposed on MacRae was ''inappropriate given his rehabilitation.''

On the basis of these and other cases, ''the state was prepared to prove,'' the attorney general's report said, ''that the diocese consciously chose to protect itself and its priests from scandal, lawsuits, and criminal charges, instead of protecting the minor parishioners under its care from continued sexual abuse by priests.''

Accompanied by the release of 9,000 pages of supporting documents, including internal church records, the report paints a picture of a diocese where the lax oversight of accused priests resembled the pattern in Boston under Cardinal Bernard F. Law and the bishops who advised, him, McCormack among them.

The release of the New Hampshire church records was a condition of an unprecedented agreement reached last December between Philip T. McLaughlin, then the attorney general, and the diocese. To avoid criminal indictment, the diocese agreed to adopt new child protection measures and to permit the attorney general to monitor its efforts to prevent child sexual abuse on an annual basis for at least five years.

When he announced the agreement, McCormack acknowledged that McLaughlin had turned up ''evidence likely to sustain a conviction of a charge . . . against the diocese.'' But yesterday the diocese released a 12-page statement contesting whether the state could have proved a criminal violation.

''The diocese does not necessarily agree with all aspects of [the attorney general's] analysis, which, in many ways, contains novel theories and approaches for New Hampshire prosecutions,'' the diocesan statement said.

The diocese also insisted it ''could have mounted a vigorous defense,'' but chose not to do so, because ''even a successful defense would not diminish the significant and serious harm suffered by minors resulting from the actions of some priests.''

N. William Delker, the head of the attorney general's criminal division, agreed that it would have been hard to prevail against the diocese in a criminal trial.

''This was a difficult case, due to the age of the allegations and the interpretations of the criminal statutes we would have depended on,'' Delker said. ''But I certainly feel we would have prevailed.''

Yesterday, McCormack reiterated his sense of sorrow for ''the harm done to persons who were abused by priests and to the Catholic faithful who have been scandalized.''

But some advocates for alleged victims of abuse were unpersuaded. Ann Hagan Webb, cocoordinator of the New England chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the diocesan response to the attorney general's report showed that old attitudes persist.

''They are still in spin control,'' Webb said. ''Their priority is still priests over victims.''

McLaughlin, who retired as attorney general in December, said he was pleased with the release of documents yesterday.

''It's all about disclosure,'' said McLaughlin, who is now in private law practice. ''Disclosure brings the institutional changes that prevent problems like this from happening again.''

The attorney general's report described a number of legal theories that would have permitted prosecution of the diocese. For example, the report said the state could have prosecuted the diocese under New Hampshire's 1973 prohibition against endangering the welfare of a child. Massachusetts enacted a similar provision last year, after the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted.

The report said the state could also have pursued a criminal indictment based on a corporate criminal liability law, which says that a corporation is liable for certain criminal acts of its employees.

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly of Massachusetts is eyeing a similar Bay State provision as he presents evidence to a grand jury considering criminal charges against the Boston Archdiocese.

In addition, New Hampshire authorities also said they had uncovered instances in which church officials made false statements while testifying in civil lawsuits and during a presentencing investigation of a diocesan priest.

The New Hampshire report rebutted arguments that most sexual abuses by clergy occurred when society was less knowledgable about child abuse and when the laws were less stringent. To the contrary, McLaughlin's office said, child protection laws dating back to 1959 made it clear that failure to crack down on abusers was illegal and immoral.

New Hampshire prosecutors launched their investigation last February, after the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in Boston, and initially reviewed accusations against 50 priests. Five of those priests were members of religious orders, while 19 were from the Boston Archdiocese, including the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, who is facing criminal charges and civil claims in Massachusetts.

To bring criminal charges that would fall within the statute of limitations, authorities focused on allegations against eight priests: Aube, MacRae, Laferriere, the Rev. Albert Boulanger, the Rev. Gerald Chalifour, the Rev. Robert Densmore, the Rev. Roger Fortier, and the Rev. Leo Landry.

The report found that diocesan leaders were consistently forgiving of accused priests. In the case of MacRae, who pleaded guilty in 1994 to charges of abusing five youths, McCormack wrote to Vatican officials that the long prison sentence imposed on MacRea was inappropriate, in part because ''there are people in prison who are serving much shorter sentences for very serious crimes.''

''It is probable that at the time of [MacRae's] arrest and later conviction that he had his impulses under greater control and was no longer a serious threat to society,'' the bishop wrote. Still, McCormack said he felt it was unwise for the diocese to advocate too forcefully on MacRae's behalf ''without risking grave misunderstanding about the seriousness of its understanding with regard to sexual misconduct by clergymen.''

The Rev. Edward J. Arsenault, the chancellor of the diocese, defended McCormack's letter yesterday, saying that McCormack continues to believe that the sentence imposed on MacRae is ''long, but I don't think `inappropriate.' ''

The files released yesterday on McRae also show that a 1978 psychological evaluation, performed before he was ordained, raised questions about his fitness to serve as a priest. Yet the Manchester Diocese accepted him into the seminary without conditions.

Unlike MacRae, who consistently denied the allegations against him, Landry admitted touching a 13-year-old boy, after being confronted by a church official. Despite the admission, church officials put no restrictions on Landry's ministry and never told his parishioners in Somersworth, Berlin, or Manchester. Over the next four years, Landry allegedly abused 11 additional youths, all of them 14-year-olds and altar boys.

In an interview with state investigators last year, Landry said he realized he had a problem as long ago as the early 1970s. ''In light of the fact that the diocese was aware of his sexual problems with children and continued to assign him to new ministries, Landry felt that there was no way to control his behavior unless he left the church,'' the attorney general's report said.

Landry left the priesthood in 1972, married, and became a high school teacher in Rochester and is now retired.

In Laferriere's case, a psychological evalution conducted in 1959, a year before he was ordained, found the seminarian was suffering from ''incipient schizophrenia with homosexual overtones.''

Another report expressed concern that Laferriere's mental illness would affect his control over homosexual tendencies. Despite that warning, Laferriere was ordained in Manchester and assigned as associate pastor of St. Augustine Parish.

About two years later, the diocese received a complaint that Laferriere had invited two youths to his rectory room, where he had pornographic pictures on the wall. No action was taken, and Laferriere was able to maintain an unrestricted ministry until 1992, when he took a leave of absence.

Since January 2002, the diocese has received complaints from four individuals that Laferriere had molested them while at St. Augustine Parish and at St. Joseph Parish in Hinsdale.



Report: Church didn’t prevent abuse; State claims leaders looked the other way

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
March 4, 2003

Concord -- Dozens of New Hampshire children could have been spared sexual assaults by Roman Catholic priests had church leaders acted appropriately when they first learned of a priest's sexual misconduct, a state report released yesterday concluded.

The report cites instances where priests admitted to their superiors that they sexually abused minors, only to be quietly reassigned to other parishes or ministry where they were accused of abusing other youths, according to the state's 154-page report of its criminal probe of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester. In some cases, the priests admitted to the subsequent allegations.

"Many, many of the victims said they had no idea the priest posed a danger to them," said Senior Assistant Attorney General N. William Delker, who led the attorney general's investigation.

"The parents had no reason to suspect and just let their children go with these priests even though they were known problems. If they had been warned or put on notice, most likely they would have acted with caution and they could have been spared serious harm," he added.

The state released its report and investigative files totaling 9,000 pages yesterday as part of the Dec. 10 agreement it struck with the diocese.

The files include thousands of pages of church documents obtained through a grand jury subpoena that formed the basis of the state's case to seek multiple indictments against the diocese on Dec. 13.

The agreement ended the criminal investigation and included the diocese's acknowledgment that the state had enough evidence to sustain a conviction under the child endangerment statute.

While Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack yesterday said details of the church's past mishandling of abusive priests are painful, it is important they be aired for healing to occur.

"The harm done by priests to children and young people is harmful, inexcusable, criminal and sinful," McCormack said in a telephone interview.

"We acknowledged what we did and failed to do. That's a real good that came from this and from this retrospective we've learned things," he added.

The church now has policies and staff in place to protect children from abuse and effectively respond to allegations that may occur, he said.

The bishop said he intends to continue to serve as bishop, saying "the best part of being in the office is to be here both in good times and in bad times and that's what I will do."

The state said it was prepared to argue the diocese sometimes was "willfully blind" to the dangers abusive priests posed to children. Even in cases where a priest admitted his abuse to a bishop, the bishop did nothing to restrict or monitor the priest's future activity, the state said.

The diocese showed "flagrant indifference" to its obligation to protect children by following a "conscious course of deliberate ignorance," the state's report said.

The investigative files include records of 35 Manchester diocesan priests, five religious brothers and 19 priests from the Archdiocese of Boston.

The 35 Manchester diocesan priests face abuse allegations from more than 100 minors, Delker said.

The Boston archdiocesan priests include the Rev. Paul Shanley, who was criminally charged with child rape last May, and several others accused in civil suits.

Lacking resources to thoroughly investigate sexual abuse allegations against all 59 clerics, the Attorney General's Office formed a task force of state, county and local investigators that focused on eight Manchester diocesan clerics accused of abusing 70 to 80 minors.

The investigation confirmed church leaders knew these eight priests sexually abused minors but either kept them in ministry or took inadequate action and the priests abused children again, the state's report said.

The state intended to bring multiple child endangerment charges against the diocese for its handling of three of the eight priests. They are the Revs. Paul L. Aube, Gerald F. Chalifour and Roger A. Fortier.

Criminal charges could not be brought against the diocese for its handling of the five other priests because the state lacked sufficient evidence or the statute of limitations had expired, the state said.

The five other priests are: the Revs. Albert J. Boulanger, Robert J. Densmore, Leo P. Landry, Raymond H. Laferriere and Gordon J. MacRae.

The state granted Chalifour, Aube and Landry limited immunity in exchange for their cooperation. This does not bar them from future prosecution.

While state prosecutors said church leaders mishandled abusive priests, neither they nor diocesan officials said any individual bishop or diocesan official intended to endanger a minor.

"What they intended was to protect the reputation of the diocese and of the priest and to avoid scandal. In doing that, they elevated the interests of the church above those of the parishioners and the children," Delker said.

Release of the documents was delayed one hour after the attorney for the Rev. Roland Cote sought a temporary restraining order to remove the priest's records from the files, saying Cote was not charged with criminal conduct. Cote's file was removed from the documents until a judge rules on his request.



Church says it learned its lesson

By David Tirrell-Wysocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
March 4, 2003

Concord -- The Diocese of Manchester says it has learned a big lesson about how to handle predator priests: supervision or monitoring is not enough.

The revelation, along with other lessons learned, is in a church report released yesterday to accompany a comprehensive state report on how the church responded to sexual abuse allegations over six decades.

"Essentially, the diocese learned that a person who has sexually abused a minor cannot be adequately supervised or monitored," said the 12-page church report, entitled "Restoring Trust: A report to the people of New Hampshire by the Diocese of Manchester."

The lesson, Bishop John B. McCormack wrote, is why the church now acts swiftly when it receives allegations.

"If there is even one credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, the diocese will remove the priest from ministry, and if the accusation is determined to be true, that priest will not be allowed to serve in ministry again."

In the past, the report said, the church generally responded by placing a priest on leave or removing him from a parish, referring him for psychiatric evaluation and treatment, or meeting with him to "urge him to acknowledge his harmful behavior and exhort him to change his ways."

"These actions, especially simply exhorting a priest to 'change his ways,' are inadequate and ineffective ways to deal with abusive individuals," the report said.

McCormack again apologized for the abuse and the inadequate church response.

"The forthright acknowledgment of failures of the past empowers us to move forward toward a hopeful and brighter future," he wrote in a personal message accompanying the church document. "While no one can change the past, together we can all shape the future."

The church, he said, learned of some abuse allegations outlined in the state report only after the attorney general began investigating last year.

"In many instances, the priests in these interviews provided (the attorney general) information that the priests had not provided directly to the diocese before the investigation," the report said.

The investigation prompted an agreement late last year in which the church acknowledged it probably would have been convicted of violating state child protection laws. The agreement included the release of the state investigative files and analysis of the legal case against the church.

"The diocese does not necessarily agree with all aspects of this analysis, which, in many ways, contains novel theories and approaches for New Hampshire prosecutions," the church report said.

The church said it could have challenged some of the theories and "inferences drawn from certain alleged facts," but concluded that even winning the challenges "would not diminish the significant and serious harm suffered by minors resulting from the actions of some priests."

The church report outlines six lessons learned from the scandal. Essentially they involve giving accusers more attention, calling the police after getting complaints, keeping better records and helping build awareness to prevent future abuse.

The Diocese made no excuses for its failures, but said the investigative file shows it was not alone in misunderstanding the lasting effects of abuse or how to best address allegations.

"Law enforcement agencies, mental health and psychological experts, as well as legislators today have a vastly improved understanding of the problem and how to address it than they did even 20 years ago," the report said.

McCormack said he and the church are concerned the release of details of abuse and the church response will be painful for victims, the faithful and the state.

Catholics who need to talk about their reactions can contact the church, and anyone who suspects a child has been abused or neglected should contact authorities, he said.



Bishop claims Fortier’s problems were unknown

By Nancy Meersman
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
March 4, 2003

Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian feigned ignorance when probation officials questioned him about the Rev. Roger Fortier's past child-abuse history, according to documents released by state Attorney General's office yesterday in its investigation of the Diocese of Manchester.

After a jury convicted Fortier of 17 counts of sexual assault against two altar boys at a small Roman Catholic Church in Farmington, state investigators wanted background on him in order to make a sentence recommendation.

Christian insisted Fortier had overcome a drinking problem once, but never exhibited what the church terms "lifestyle difficulties."

Christian wrote in a Sept. 18, 1998 letter to a probation officer that Fortier's "sexual problems with youth were unknown to the Diocese and it is, in my mind, unfortunate that he did not make use of his time in treatment to deal with those other issues ... "

The bishop reflected that, had Fortier addressed "lifestyle" issues when he was counseled for alcohol problems, he might not now be facing a prison term.

Not mentioned was that if the judge had known about Fortier's history, he might have handed down an even stiffer sentence than the 30 to 60 years Fortier got.

The Attorney General's Office said yesterday, in releasing its investigative file into the church's cover-up of sexual abuse against children, that if the Manchester diocese had not signed a consent decree it would have been prosecuted for the Fortier matter.

In Fortier's case, the state "was prepared to present one or more indictments to the Hillsborough County Grand Jury charging the Diocese of Manchester with endangering the welfare of children ..." according to documents.

The fact was, Christian was well aware that Derry police had been investigating Fortier in 1984 for taking male adolescents to a known homosexual friend's home at Beaver Lake, giving them liquor and showing them videos depicting homosexual acts.

According to state investigators, Fortier was also giving minors alcohol in his rooms at the St. Jean Baptiste rectory in Manchester during that period.

Christian knew about the behavior because he called Fortier in for a talk the day after being contacted by Derry police -- to whom he expressed vexation that they were "under the delusion that the diocese knew all about these matters."

Fortier at that time admitted some of the allegations to Christian and acknowledged he was a homosexual.

It wasn't until 1998 that Fortier, with numerous parish assignments behind him, was convicted by a Strafford County jury of 17 sexual assaults on two Farmington boys and was finally locked up.

The lifestyle problems in Derry and Manchester did not impede his career track.

Three years after Derry police gave up trying to prosecute because of statute-of-limitation hurdles, Fortier was named to the Diocesan School Board. Over the next 15 years he was assigned to a succession of southern New Hampshire parishes.

His final assignment was as pastor of the small Holy Rosary parish in Farmington -- he couldn't shoulder too heavy an assignment because of a heart ailment, according to church records.

Nevertheless, his victims, in hundreds of transcript pages, never mention the heart ailment. They describe countless acts of fellatio, digital penetration and sexual manipulation which they were forced to perform and which were forced on them.

The AG's investigative file contains an obituary published in a newspaper. Why it is in the file is not explained. The date the item ran is not shown and the entire text is blacked out, except for the Farmington dateline and the person's age: 17.

Despite the damage Fortier had done to the church's reputation, and untold victims, church officials remain solicitous of him. They ask about his health concerns and promise to visit him in prison.

On Aug. 31, 2001, Bishop John B. McCormack agrees with the recommendation of Chancellor Edward Arsenault to boost Fortier's stipend in prison -- and that of convicted pedophile priest Gordon McRae -- from $100 to $150 a month "plus individual submitted by them."

In an undated letter to "Dear Roger," Bishop McCormack commiserates over Fortier's surgery to remove a lymph node. He says the news that Fortier lost his Supreme Court appeal was disappointing, but God would show him a way to deal with it.

" ... I hope that it will not be too long before I have another opportunity to visit with you and Gordon," the bishop writes. "If you think there is something I can do, please drop me a line and let me know. Don't let it wait."




 
 

Original material copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
     
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