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Kathleen A. Shaw

Kathy Shaw retired as religion reporter for the Worcester, Mass., Telegram & Gazette in 2006 and is now a freelance writer.

Her specialty since 1991 was covering religion. She was honored in 2000 with a special ecumenical award presented by His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston at St. Spyridon Cathedral in Worcester because of her coverage of issues within the Eastern Orthodox community. She is a member of the Religion Newswriters Association.

She has been posting the Clergy Abuse Tracker since 2002. The Tracker was originated by the Poynter Institute to help reporters covering the burgeoning clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, but it became evident that abuse occurred in many faith organizations. Kathy was active at the time uncovering the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Diocese of Worcester.

One of her early investigative pieces beginning in 1992 resulted in her going into unincorporated areas of New Brunswick, Canada, to locate the Rev. Joseph A. Fredette. Father Fredette, an Assumptionist priest, fled the United States in the late 1970s after Worcester police issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with allegations he molested boys in his care at a youth home he operated. She located Father Fredette—walking up and rapping on the front door of his rustic house in the wilderness—but she did some checking in nearby towns and discovered questions had been raised by some area residents regarding young men he had living with him when he served in a nearby parish.

Her work, along with efforts of reporter George Griffin, led to extradition in 1994 of Father Fredette back to Worcester to face trial.

Kathy was the reporter who in 2003 uncovered and wrote the first story about the 1962 document called Crimen Sollicitationis in which the Vatican instructed bishops throughout the world on how they would handle allegations of sexual abuse made against priests. The document was to remain so secret that bishops were never to admit its existence and it was the first Vatican document to surface that would show the Vatican intended that allegations of clergy sexual misconduct should be kept under wraps.

In 2003, she helped bring some measure of protection to reporters in Massachusetts after the Worcester diocese attempted to compel her to testify and divulge her notes when a Shrewsbury man filed a lawsuit alleging he had been sexually abused as a minor by Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger of the Worcester diocese. The diocese specifically wanted to know what the man discussed when he first contacted her, a conversation that was “off the record” and not to be printed.

The judge ruled that since her conversation with the plaintiff had been “off the record” and no contents of the discussion were ever divulged, she did not have to reveal that information. The subpoena was quashed. The man later dismissed the lawsuit against the diocese and the bishop.

Kathy worked more than 40 years as a news reporter, beginning her career in radio at age 17. In 1991, she began a secondary career as a mental health crisis counselor and clinician, working for the Human Resource Center of Athol, Mass., Counseling and Support Options, based in Greenfield, and LUK Inc. of Fitchburg.

A graduate of Becker College and Assumption College of Worcester, Kathy's academic preparation is in journalism, liberal studies and counseling psychology. She is also a graduate of the new officers seminar of The Newspaper Guild held at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Silver Spring, Md., and was a leader in bringing Newspaper Guild representation to reporters, photographers and circulation workers at the Telegram & Gazette. She served several terms as chair of the Worcester Unit of the Providence Newspaper Guild and retains membership as a retired member of The Newspaper Guild and Communications Workers of America.

A native of Athol, Mass., she attended Maria Assumpta Academy, Petersham, and graduated from Athol High School. She now lives in Central Massachusetts.

 
 

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