Records: Archdiocese Official Intervened in Abuse Case
By Tom Mashberg
October 28, 2002
The former No. 2 man in the Archdiocese of Boston, now Bishop of Brooklyn, intervened with Nahant Police in 1977 after two patrolmen spotted a priest apparently engaged in a sex act with a teenage boy in a parked car, documents reviewed by the Herald show.
Brooklyn Bishop Thomas V. Daily was Boston's vicar general under the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros when, according to a sworn deposition and other documents, he met with Nahant's then-police chief and the two officers and assured them he would deal with the priest, the Rev. Edward T. Kelley, currently of Milton.
There is no indication Kelley was disciplined or sent for medical help as a result of the episode - even though Daily reportedly assured Nahant police that the priest would be formally treated. Kelley was never arrested or charged.
Kelley, 58, is the subject of multiple lawsuits from men alleging sex abuse from the mid-1960s into the 1980s. He was pastor in the 1970s at St. Mary's Parish in Lynn and at St. Columbkill's in Brighton, and was suspended from active ministry in 1993 amid abuse charges.
"Kelley could not be prosecuted because Bishop Daily covered up his crime," said Carmen L. Durso, a Boston lawyer investigating the case. "Worse, he was allowed to continue for years in the ministry, and as a result my clients and other boys were sexually abused."
In sworn testimony earlier this month, one of the officers involved in the 1977 arrest, Gerard D. Perry of Swampscott, who is now an official with the Department of Revenue, said he alerted Essex County prosecutors to the case earlier this year after being "shocked . . . by the magnitude" of the Catholic Church's clergy abuse coverup.
Perry, who said he has long been troubled by the episode because it involved a priest he knew personally and a boy who appeared to be a minor, summed up the incident this way during his deposition:
"The bottom line is we (Perry and his then-partner, William Szczawinski) stumbled on (Kelley) and a 16- or 17-year-old. I pulled him over. I confirmed it was him.
"I got upset with him. I yelled and screamed at him (Kelley).
"I am sure we took all their information. We decided to see the chief (the late Joseph Melanson, who retired soon thereafter), sat with the chief in the morning.
"A decision was made to call the cardinal's residence. Bishop Daily, he came down. A conversation occurred. The chief and the bishop agreed the bishop would handle this. (Kelley) would go to some place. My vague recollection is New Mexico. Never saw him, never heard of him. No follow up."
Perry declined yesterday to comment, saying he would allow his deposition testimony to speak for itself. Szczawinski, who is still with the Nahant Police, could not be reached. And Daily could not be reached despite repeated efforts to contact him through the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Durso defended Perry, 47, who was a rookie with barely six weeks on the job on the hot August night when he and his partner encountered Kelley and the teen parked near a Protestant Church in their coastal community - Kelley with his "pants partially undone."
"These two fine young policemen were doing their job to the utmost," he said. "They took this matter as far as they could, only to encounter then what we all realize now: that the church covered up these cases again and again."
Durso and Roderick MacLeish Jr., another attorney suing Kelley, Daily and other Catholic figures, said Kelley's archdiocese personnel file contains a two-page typewritten letter from the patrolmen detailing the August, 1977, case.
Durso said he was not sure whether Daily went to Nahant as a result of the letter, or whether the officers wrote their letter to the chancery to memorialize an event that troubled them enormously.
Either way, Durso said, "this is emblematic of why we can't trust the church to deal with sex abuse without far-reaching oversight."
MacLeish, who is set today to release transcripts of a deposition of Daily he took over the summer, refused to discuss his evidence.
But he said "it is very upsetting to think no real action was taken by Daily as a result of this."
MacLeish noted that Daily - a 75-year-old Belmont native who left Boston for the Palm Beach Diocese in 1984, and has overseen Brooklyn since 1990 - was intimately involved in the oversight of numerous problem priests, among them the Rev. Paul R. Shanley and former priest John J. Geoghan.
"Much will emerge in Daily's deposition," MacLeish said. "He is a crucial person with respect to the handling of these abuse cases."
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