Abuse Scandal in Boston Recalls 1980s Cases in Seattle

Associated Press, carried in Seattle Times
March 2, 2002

As prosecutors in Massachusetts move closer to pressing charges against priests accused of molesting children, the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle recalled yesterday how it went through a similar scandal before overhauling the way it handles pedophile priests.

Two high-profile cases in the 1980s prompted the archdiocese to institute background checks for all of its clergy, lay ministers and employees, spokesman Bill Gallant said.

"We sort of experienced this 20 years ago," Gallant said. "It's sad, obviously. Catholics everywhere are asking difficult and very important questions.

"But in the Archdiocese of Seattle, and elsewhere, people need to know our No. 1 concern is the pastoral care of the victims and the protection of our children."

One case involved the Rev. James McGreal, who was removed from two parishes and a Catholic hospital for molesting young boys before being reassigned in 1986 to the Queen of Angels Church in Port Angeles.

McGreal, who received counseling and was never charged, agreed to have no contact with children but was supervised by the Rev. Paul Conn, who later served prison time for molesting altar boys.

McGreal was identified publicly by his superiors in 1988 after his history of molestations came to light in news reports.

A third priest removed from a parish in the Seattle Archdiocese was never identified by the church.

The Seattle Archdiocese's handling of McGreal parallels the Boston Archdiocese's handling of now-defrocked priest John Geoghan, who was shuttled from parish to parish as allegations arose.

Geoghan is serving nine to 10 years in prison for fondling a 10-year-old boy, and he faces two more criminal trials and 80 lawsuits.

In the past month, Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law has given prosecutors the names of about 80 priests suspected of abusing children over the past four decades. He has also suspended 10 priests.


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