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  Director of Rehab Center for Priests Suspended over Sex Abuse Allegation

Associated Press
July 18, 2002

The director of a rehabilitation center for priests accused of molesting children has himself been suspended over sexual abuse allegations dating to the 1970s.

The Rev. Robert Beale was placed on administrative leave Wednesday by the Archdiocese of Boston after church officials reviewed an allegation that Beale molested a minor while a parish priest.

Donna Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, would not release details but said church officials found the allegation credible.

She said the rehabilitation center, Our Lady's Hall, currently has no patients.

Beale did not return calls for comment Thursday.

"If this father is someone who was a child molester himself, then you have to wonder how much supervision he was giving his colleagues at the time," said Philip Saviano, the New England director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Our Lady's Hall, a stately brick mansion in the well-to-do Boston suburb of Milton, made headlines in March when the Rev. Ronald Paquin was accused in a lawsuit of repeatedly molesting a teen-age boy there in the 1990s. Paquin had been sent to the center by the archdiocese for allegedly molesting children.

The alleged victim, who was 14 and 15 at the time, told The Boston Globe he visited Paquin's bedroom at the center several dozen times and spent the night there at least twice. He said the other priests never questioned his presence. Paquin is now awaiting trial on three unrelated counts of child rape.

Another priest at Our Lady's Hall, the Rev. Edward T. Kelley, was reclassified earlier this year from counselor to client after the church received allegations that he, too, had molested children. Kelley has since left the center.

Milton Police Chief Kevin Mearn said people living near the home had though it was a retreat for alcoholic priests and were upset to learn in 1997 that it housed priests accused of sexually abusing children.

"We were notified by a resident who had young children and lived in very close proximity to Our Lady's Hall," Mearn said. "I think a lot of people thought it was a retirement home for priests."

Mearn said Thursday that he met with church officials, who told him they would stop sending accused sexual offenders to stay there.

Beale had worked at Our Lady's Hall for two decades.

Beale is the 18th priest in the archdiocese suspended since January, when the clergy sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the nation's Roman Catholic Church erupted in Boston. Since then, at least 250 priests nationwide have either been dismissed or resigned.

In other developments Thursday:

- Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law answered questions under oath from an attorney representing 86 alleged victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan. The archdiocese backed out of a $15 million to $30 million settlement with the alleged victims earlier this year. Law said that while he supported the deal, he understood the finance council's ruling because more plaintiffs came forward than expected, an archdiocese spokesman said.

- In Oldham County, Ky., a retired priest was indicted on 14 new counts of sexual misconduct. The Rev. Louis Miller, 71, is accused of abusing seven boys and a girl, all under 15 in the 1970s. In June, Miller pleaded innocent to 36 counts of indecent and immoral practice and six counts of sexual abuse. Miller's attorney did not return a call.

 
 

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