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  Cardinal in Crisis
Records Reveal Charges against 7 More Priests

By Robin Washington and Franci Richardson
Boston Herald
December 10, 2002

The personnel files of seven more Boston Archdiocese priests accused of child sex abuse were made public yesterday, with the promise of dozens more to come.

Released were records on the Revs. Gary Balcom, George Berthold, Denis Conte, Edward McDonagh, Paul Moriarty and William Scanlan, as well as that of the Rev. Paul Manning, who was acquitted of child molestation charges in 1994 but remains suspended by the church.

Though Manning's accuser recanted, the Rev. Paul Sughrue, pastor of Woburn's St. Charles Borromeo Church, agreed to testify. Church files do not clearly reveal any other accusers.

Ordained in 1972, Scanlan served at Belmont's Our Lady of Mercy and St. Timothy's in Norwood before joining the Pilgrim Center in Braintree.

He was in residence at St. Ann's in Dorchester and South Boston's St. Monica's, and a chaplain at Long Island Hospital and the Southeast Correctional Center in Bridgewater before assuming the pastorship of Stoughton's St. James Parish in 1994.

There, in 1997, he allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl. Though the allegation was not reported for three years, Scanlan was put on health leave.

While "health leave" is frequently employed in church documents as a euphemism for sex charges, a letter from Scanlan's lawyers insists he really was sick. Suffering from heart trouble, they wrote, he also had erectile dysfunction, making the rape impossible, and another letter shows he passed a polygraph test.

But the file also shows earlier concerns, including a 1993 memo about his "possible overinvolvement with boys" and an evaluation at the House of Affirmation, a clergy sex treatment center.

Scanlan most recently returned to ministry as a Veterans Affairs chaplain in California. A receptionist at St. Pius in Redwood City said he left his residence there about six months ago.

"He's moved back to the Boston area. He never gave us an address. He's there somewhere," she said.

Suspended from West Bridgewater's St. Ann's in May, McDonagh is accused of raping a boy 38 years ago in Melrose, allegations brought by the sister of the alleged victim, who later became a male prostitute in California and died of AIDS-related illnesses six years ago.

Though much of his file contains letters of support from parishioners claiming McDonagh's removal was retaliation for his call for Bernard Cardinal Law's resignation, the allegations are detailed and correctly place the priest at Melrose's Incarnation Church, his first assignment.

His lawyer denies the charges.

"It's absolutely weak. It's one they can't sustain on any level but that hasn't stopped them from proceeding with this charade," said attorney David Sorrenti.

Called "boy crazy" by a fellow priest, Conte was shuffled from parish to parish before a lawsuit charged him with molesting an altar boy inside St. Anthony Parish in Revere 25 years ago. Conte, 53, also served at St. Mary of the Assumption in Dracut.

Conte allegedly took several altar boys to his New Hampshire home and kissed and fondled one while proclaiming his love for him.

When Conte's supervisor, the Rev. Joseph Veneto, was confronted with complaints from the boy's parents, he asked Conte to leave "if he had done anything wrong." After Conte left, Veneto described him as "boy crazy."

Conte has denied the allegations, saying it was part of his Italian custom to kiss on the lips, and called the claims "all lies." He could not be contacted.

Balcom is charged with taking showers with an altar boy at the Immaculate Conception Church in Weymouth, fondling the boy, giving him alcohol, and threatening him, according to a 1993 lawsuit.

Balcom, 56, went on to serve in Milton and St. Agnes in Arlington before being put on sick leave in 1985. In 1998, he was laicized.

Allegations from a 1993 suit charge Balcom sexually abused the altar boy from the age of 11 or 12 until the boy turned 17 in the 1970s.

The boy sued the archdiocese after he experienced years of erratic behavior, depression and suicide attempts.

A one-time dean of St. John's Seminary in Boston, Berthold was recommended, in 1997, for a post at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina by Law. The priest had been accused of inappropriate acts with a seminarian.

Moriarty, who died in 1982, is accused of sexually abusing a child while at St. Mary of the Hills in Milton in the 1950s.

 
 

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