|U.S. House Chaplain Sought Abuser's Release
By Manya A. Brachear and Margaret Ramirez
November 20, 2008
Before his appointment as chaplain of the House of Representatives, Rev. Daniel Coughlin pushed for the early release from prison of a priest convicted of sexually abusing two teenage boys.
In a letter dated May 20, 1999, 10 months before he was nominated for the chaplain post, Coughlin asked the Wisconsin Parole Commission to release Norbert Maday, 70, from prison and place him under the supervision of the Chicago archdiocese.
"We would be pleased to receive Norbert Maday into the archdiocese of Chicago system," he wrote. "We would also accept financial responsibility for his maintenance, monitoring. . . . This would relieve the state of Wisconsin from the financial burden of caring for Maday."
Coughlin, then vicar of priests, was appointed House chaplain in March 2000.
The revelation, first reported by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, was part of a legal deposition released by Cardinal Francis George this year as part of a $12.7 million settlement involving 16 victims and 11 priests.
In his letter, Coughlin outlined a system in which Maday would live "in a residence where his activities are monitored and he may never be in the presence of a minor without another adult present." An audit of the archdiocese monitoring system for accused priests found it to be grossly deficient.
The deposition also included letters from George citing Coughlin's efforts to free Maday. George said he was told Maday didn't have a fair trial. It was only after Coughlin's departure and more allegations surfaced that George reviewed the files and realized Maday had "seriously abused many, many innocent children."
The cardinal reversed Coughlin's request in April 2007. Maday is no longer a priest in the Catholic Church.
Coughlin, who could not be reached for comment, served as vicar for priests from 1995 until his appointment to Washington in 2000.
"Sadly, this is a familiar pattern in the Chicago archdiocese: a priest who successfully keeps quiet about clergy sex crimes wins a promotion," said Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
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