Catholics Quiet on Latest News of Hughes
No Fallout Follows Role in Sex Scandal

The Times-Picayune [New Orleans LA]
July 25, 2003

References to New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes in Wednesday's scathing report on the Boston sex abuse scandal have been taken in stride by local Catholics, the New Orleans archdiocese said Thursday.

By Thursday afternoon, the New Orleans hierarchy had received only one call regarding the report archdiocesan spokesman the Rev. William Maestri said.

The lack of public outcry indicates "that the people of New Orleans have come to know and certainly respect and like Archbishop Hughes," said Maestri, who described the call as a neutral inquiry about where a copy of the Massachusetts report could be obtained.

The report, by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly, was based on a 16-month grand jury investigation of how Boston's Catholic hierarchy handled complaints of sexual abuse against priests. It includes the accusation that Hughes, while serving as second in command to Boston's archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, in the early 1990s, withheld pertinent information about pedophile priests. Hughes said the report mischaracterizes his role.

The references to Hughes center on the case of the Rev. John Hanlon. The report contends that not long after Hanlon was indicted in 1992, on charges of twice raping an altar boy 12 years earlier, Hughes became aware of another credible claim against the priest but did not pass on the information to prosecutors when they contacted him. The case ended in a hung jury, but Hanlon was later convicted on similar charges.

Hughes on Wednesday acknowledged that he did not volunteer the name of the second abuse victim because he assumed that under archdiocesan policy the victim had been told he could go to police on his own. In other respects, however, Hughes contended he was consistently forthcoming. "Whenever I was contacted by the police and asked for information, I provided whatever information I could have," he said.


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