Attorney Seeks More Priests' Files

By Franci Richardson, Tom Mashberg and Robin Washington
Boston Herald
December 20, 2002

A key attorney suing the Boston archdiocese on behalf of sexual abuse victims emerged from the deposition of a nun yesterday convinced there are "now well in excess of 110 priests" whose secret files contain charges they molested minors.

"We will seek it all," Roderick MacLeish Jr. said after hearing testimony from Sister Catherine E. Mulkerrin, who handled intake reports from plaintiffs under Bishop John B. McCormack in Bernard Cardinal Law's personnel office in the early 1990s. "The sun needs to be shined on all these records."

MacLeish refused to characterize Mulkerrin's testimony. But he said he was nearing an accord with the archdiocese to obtain records on priests who faced allegations of sexual abuse against adults, too.

"This is relevant because it speaks to the pattern of how the archdiocese handled and hid all manner of complaints," he said. "We are not interested in priests who engaged in consensual relations. We want those who abused their authority over parishioners."

Yesterday the files on five more priests were released:

— In a 28-year career marked by graphic allegations of sexual abuse - including claims he violently raped one boy - the Rev. Philip Bretton served in 14 parishes.

Bretton, who died in 1984, was chaplain at Cambridge Hospital in 1957 when he befriended an altar boy and allegedly brought him back to his apartment for sex twice a week for four months.

"Father Bretton would undress fully, leaving only his roman collar on, and perform (sex acts) on the then-15-year-old minor," read church documents.

When the boy fled the apartment, Bretton allegedly drove alongside him, repeating "if he told anyone about the abuse, Father Bretton would kill him."

In 1950, Bretton had two assignments after an undescribed two-month sick leave, which included St. Joseph's in Everett and St. Mary's in Marlboro.

Later, in the summer of 1951, when Bretton got involved in "immoral acts" with a group of boys under 10 at Hampton Beach, he was suspended from St. Louis de France in Lowell. He was reinstated as pastor at St. Joseph's in Salem.

After three more assignments, he was placed at St. Alphonse in Beverly in 1962. One alleged victim wrote to the church in 1993 and accused the then-deceased priest of having abused him. "It becomes apparent that the church chose to look the other way," he wrote.

— Gerald J. Hickey, 65, was sued by both his nephews from Detroit for sexually molesting them in 1969 after memories returned through regressive hypnosis therapy, according to documents.

While Hickey resigned as pastor of St. Bridget in Abington and has yet to be reassigned, church officials didn't believe the charges, despite another allegation raised by a second nephew.

"I accept your protestation of innocence," Law wrote to Hickey in 1994.

Yesterday, Hickey's longtime friend, the Rev. Anthony Jezowski of St. Helen's in Norwell, said Hickey "has never been accused by anybody in any parish. One of the nephews has had serious mental problems, and the other one is just grabbing on."

— In an episode made public earlier this year but missing from the newly released file, the Rev. Anthony Rebeiro was accused in March 1984 of exposing himself and masturbating in front of a parishioner at St. Mary's of Franklin while her husband was at a funeral - an incident Law termed in a letter to the husband as "personal to Father Rebeiro."

During the same period, the file contains allegations the India-born Rebeiro molested underage girls, including one he attempted to fondle in a hospital room before the girl's roommate screamed.

Despite dozens of rejections by pastors declining his assignment to their churches, Rebeiro was placed by Law at several other churches in Woburn, Holbrook, Revere and Chelsea. He was suspended in August.

Records also were released on the Rev. Harold Johnson and the Rev. Jay Mullin.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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