|Clergy Sex-abuse Victims Keep Tabs on Fallen Priests
By Lane Lambert and Elizabeth Crowley
The Patriot Ledger
November 1, 2008
UINCY — Jeffrey Scolamiero of Pembroke knows where defrocked priest Ernest E. Tourigney lives, even what kind of car he drives.
Alexa MacPherson of Holbrook keeps similar tabs on the Rev. Peter S. Kanchong, who was first suspended from public ministry in 1983 after he was sentenced to probation on charges he molested a 9-year-old girl. MacPherson, now 33, was that girl.
She and Scolamiero – who said Tourigney molested him when he was a boy at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Weymouth – keep an eye on priests who sexually molested children because, they say, the Archdiocese of Boston doesn’t.
“They don’t do anything, really,” MacPherson said.
Archdiocese officials strongly disagree. A church representative stays in contact with priests who are restricted from ministry for confirmed reports of abuse, said Ann Carter, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.
“The archdiocese is committed to fulfilling its responsibility to protect children at all times,” a statement from the archdiocese to The Patriot Ledger said. “We remain dedicated to providing support to survivors and all people who have suffered as a result of clergy sexual abuse.”
Under pressure from former Attorney General Tom Reilly, the archdiocese agreed in 2002 to oversee priests who have been taken out of parishes for molesting youngsters. But despite attempts by The Patriot Ledger for several weeks to get more information about the nature of the supervision – for example, who is doing the monitoring and whether it involves regular phone calls or visits to the priests’ homes – church officials declined to be more specific.
They also declined a request to interview church officials about the supervision program. And the archdiocese did not respond to requests for the number of priests currently listed as restricted or on administrative leave.
To read The Patriot Ledger’s report on suspended and defrocked priests living on the South Shore, go to patriotledger.com. To see what policies and procedures the Boston Archdiocese has in place to protect children, go to ww.rcab.org/ChildAdvocacy/HomePage.
Because the statute of limitations ran out on most allegations of sexual abuse by priests, state and local law enforcement have no supervisory authority over suspended priests.
“How well they (church officials) are doing (in monitoring priests) is beyond our information,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said. She said there’s no requirement for the archdiocese to share reports about suspended priests with her office.
No one is responsible for keeping watch over defrocked priests like Tourigney.
“They don’t have to register (as sex offenders),” Scolamiero said. “The church just let them go out and be free. It’s absolutely wrong.”
Six years after the clergy sex abuse scandal came to light – and after paying $85 million to settle hundreds of civil lawsuits – the archdiocese screens all priests, employees and volunteers who work with children in Catholic schools and parishes, church officials said. But some victims and their supporters say the archdiocese is still shielding accused or admitted pedophile priests, by keeping their whereabouts confidential.
James Sullivan, 68, of Duxbury, is a practicing Catholic who has tried to get the archdiocese to open up about where suspended priests are now. He’s gotten nowhere, he said.
“The church hides behind a lot of legalese but they are being complicit again, by not making public information about these priests, they are enabling abusers to abuse again,” he said.
In a prepared statement, the archdiocese said it promptly reports allegations of abuse by clergy to local police and district attorneys’ offices. When priests who are suspended for investigation or are convicted of sex abuse, their names are made public. Priests are also publicly identified when they’re defrocked.
Church officials say they continue to consider whether to go public with more information about accused and restricted priests. One major concern, they say, is giving the accused due process while still protecting children and supporting victims.
Coakley said she sympathizes with clergy victims, but state law can’t require that their abusers’ names and addresses be made public unless they’re registered sex offenders.
“Unless the archdiocese does it, there’s no way to do it,” Coakley said.
Lane Lambert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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