Bishop Accountability
  Manchester NH Resources – May 2002

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McCormack tries to restore trust with ‘personal presence’

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
May 2, 2002

Bishop John B. McCormack wants to restore trust New Hampshire Catholics may have lost in him and thinks the best way to do that is meeting the faithful face to face.

“I think I can be an effective bishop, but I need to get out and tell the people my perspective and to listen to their concerns so we will get to know one another,” McCormack said yesterday.

The clerical sexual misconduct crisis that has rocked the Catholic church this year has forced McCormack to defend his role in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston during the 1980s where he served as Cardinal Bernard F. Law’s point man for handling abusive priests.

The scandal spread to New Hampshire where 18 diocesan priests accused of past sexual abuse with minors have been publicly identified. All have been removed from ministry.

McCormack said he hopes cultivating a “personal presence” will help repair damage the crisis has caused.

“That’s how I can restore whatever trust has been lost,” said McCormack, who became bishop here in 1998.

“I think they wonder. Some are very supportive, and some wonder what my role was.”

McCormack will speak directly to New Hampshire residents tonight on WMUR TV Channel 9 at 7 p.m.

He also intends to meet with people at Masses, picnics and other public settings as he attempts to answer questions about his work in the Boston archdiocese.

As secretary for ministerial personnel in Boston, McCormack said his duties were primarily administrative, such as budgeting, goal setting and problem solving.

He said he also dealt with priests having difficulties with their vocation, suffering illness or had been accused of sexual abuse along with their victims.

While he said he was not responsible for the reassignment of priests, he would make recommendations to the vicar for administration and, as delegate for sexual misconduct, to an independent review board.

He said there were times he recommended a priest accused of sexual abuse be reassigned, “but it would be to restricted ministry where he would never have contact with children.”

McCormack said no priest accused of sexual abuse is allowed to serve in ministry.

Petition asks McCormack to step down

By J.M. Hirsch
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
May 2, 2002

Concord, N.H. -- Bishop John B. McCormack should resign because he ignored warnings that priests were molesting children, according to a petition circulating through the state’s Roman Catholic parishes.

“It is clear to us that Bishop McCormack cannot function effectively as the pastoral leader for this diocese any longer,” Jim Farrell, one of the creators of the petition, said Wednesday in a telephone interview.

“There are just too many questions and I think his credibility is so gravely damaged at this time that he cannot effectively serve the diocese any longer,” said Farrell, a member of St. Mary Parish in Dover.

In recent months, McCormack has been dogged by accusations that while serving as director of ministerial personnel in the Archdiocese of Boston he ignored warnings about abusive priests and had a hand in shuffling them to new parishes.

In lawsuits, he is accused of ignoring complaints about several Massachusetts priests with long histories of abuse allegations, including John Geoghan, a former priest accused of molesting more than 130 children.

McCormack served in Boston from 1984-1994 before becoming bishop in 1998. He has said he is sorry for the harm done by abusive priests, and that he never reassigned a priest to ministry who he believed would harm children.

Patrick McGee, spokesman for the diocese, said he had not seen the petition and could not comment on it.

“The bishop’s response will be to continue to speak to the people of the church in New Hampshire on as personal a level as he can. People have some concerns and he is going to listen to them,” McGee said.

For Farrell, a professor of communications at the University of New Hampshire, McCormack’s response to the allegations against him sounds hollow in the face of the evidence amassing against him.

Farrell got the idea for the petition, which details a litany of allegations against McCormack and ends with a call for his resignation, as news about the bishop’s role in the Massachusetts sex abuse scandal began unfolding earlier this year.

“I became convinced the truth about the bishop’s participation in these events was not being revealed and I got the clear sense that he was deflecting attention away from his past activity in the Boston archdiocese,” Farrell said.

Farrell said he e-mailed the petition several weeks ago to about 25 Catholic friends in various parishes around the state, and urged them to add their name to the bottom and forward it to others.

The goal is to “convey, from one parish to the next, our collective concerns about the scandal of abuse by priests,” the petition says. “Its specific purpose is to offer reasons why Catholics of the diocese should call for the resignation of Bishop John B. McCormack.”

John Grimes, a retired teacher from Dover who attends Mass daily, signed and helped circulate the petition. He said many of the petitioners are conservatives like himself who don’t like what they are hearing about and from McCormack.

“The man who screwed up in the past is the one in charge of the future,” he said. “Any time you ask McCormack about his activities in Massachusetts, he will immediately change the topic to what’s going to happen in New Hampshire tomorrow. He does not want to talk about what went on down there.”

Farrell doesn’t know how many people have seen the petition, but he guesses that well over 100 have signed it. He hopes eventually to present the petition to the diocese, but said as long as word of the Catholic community’s displeasure with McCormack is spread, it will serve its purpose.

“I was frankly reluctant to do anything that might contribute to bringing more scandal to the church, but then I came to the conclusion that nothing I could do by raising these questions would bring as much scandal to the church as the bishop himself has,” Farrell said.

Bishop John B. McCormack’s May 2 address to the Church and the people of New Hampshire

Nashua (NH) Telegraph
May 3, 2002

The complete text of the bishop's May 2 address.

Tonight I speak directly to you, my fellow Catholics, about our Church in New Hampshire, and to you, my fellow citizens, about how the Catholic Church is working to protect children in our society.

We have heard a great deal about sexual abuse of minors by priests. While much has been written and said about this terrible crime and sin, I want to make a clear statement that reveals my thoughts and concerns.

I know who the victims are.

-- The victims are young people who have suffered abuse by a priest.

-- The victims are their parents, and their families who share this profound hurt.

To the victims and your families, I am deeply sorry that you have been harmed by those you trusted. I beg your forgiveness. In the words we Catholics use during Mass, I ask forgiveness “for what we have done and for what we have failed to do.”

I know that to ask forgiveness without showing penitence or without a resolve to change is an empty gesture. As Bishop of The Church in New Hampshire, I will attempt to receive your forgiveness by taking action.

When I talked to high school students at Trinity High in Manchester recently, I encouraged them to ask questions. Their questions cut to the heart of the matter. One asked me how could the Church allow this to happen? Our Church is an institution inspired by God but run by people, and people make mistakes. But people can also learn from their mistakes and repair the institution they have harmed.

As I looked on the students’ faces so eager and so full of promise, I knew I needed to talk openly with them and with you about sexual abuse. Although not a parent, I think I gained an insight as to how parents must feel when they think their child could ever suffer this unthinkable act.

What I felt that day can best be summarized by saying “Never again.”

-- Never again will a priest remain in ministry who has abused a child.

-- Never again will the Church’s focus drift from the care and support of victims.

-- Never again will a veil of silence enshroud the Church when it comes to dealing with the problems of sexual abuse.

In order for you to trust that I can lead in the right direction and follow through on the steps I outline, you have to put a measure of faith in my word. In recent months some of you have questioned my ability as bishop to lead your Church. I understand your feelings, and I want you to measure my words by my actions.

I know that my service in the Archdiocese of Boston has been the subject of many questions. Let me tell you about it.

After being ordained a priest in 1960, I served the Archdiocese of Boston until 1998 when I came here to be the ninth Bishop of Manchester. There I was a parish priest, a pastor, an administrator in the Catholic Charities office, and for 10 years a Cabinet Secretary in Cardinal Law’s administration. In 1995, I was ordained a Bishop and served as an Auxiliary in Boston until I came here.

It was in late 1984, that Cardinal Law appointed me Secretary for Ministerial Personnel. In that position I had responsibility for planning, budgeting and administrative problem solving for departments within the Archdiocese. My role as cabinet secretary was to provide administrative support. While in this position I did not assign or reassign priests. I assigned my first priest only when I became Bishop of Manchester.

In the late eighties and early nineties, reports involving sexual misconduct by priests became more frequent. This began my work in the area of sexual abuse by priests. In 1992 I took responsibility for the management of all sexual misconduct complaints and helped to develop and then implement our first written policy.

Let me share a few observations about this experience.

I know that I and many others in the Church do a much better job today in listening to victims and acting definitively in areas of abuse of a child than we did at first. I know we made mistakes.

There was not a clear and non-judgmental way for people with complaints to come forward and tell their story. At first, I think we were not as sensitive as we should have been in helping people to tell us of abuse. We needed someone other than a priest who could help persons tell their stories and then serve as an advocate during the process that followed. I made such help available in Boston. In New Hampshire, we have lay people meeting with and assisting individuals who bring a complaint of abuse.

Did our process cloak itself in confidentiality to such a point that secrecy become counterproductive? Yes. And did that secrecy foster a sense that we were protecting our own and not caring enough for the victim. Yes. I understand that the price of this confidentiality has been the loss of trust.

While my concerns were always to protect children, I am saddened the Church’s process extended the hurt and created mistrust. We will not make this mistake again.

During my service in Boston it was my intent to never recommend a priest be placed in an assignment where he would be in contact with children if he had an allegation of sexual abuse. In certain instances, following expert medical advice, I did recommend that a priest with this history be placed in a restricted assignment, such as a nursing home, a facility for retired priests or other situations in which he would serve only adults. Although I thought that was a responsible way to deal with the situation then, I now know it is not. A priest with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor will not serve in any ministry in our Diocese.

Recently there has been a great deal of information released about Father Paul Shanley. People ask how could you have allowed him to continue in ministry when you knew of his past abuses?

Regretfully, I didn’t know of these abuses. The file I reviewed on Paul Shanley did not contain any allegations of sexual abuse. It is clear to me now that there was significant information about Father Shanley that I never saw. That should never have happened.

When I received the complaint that began our investigation I placed Fr. Shanley on administrative leave and eventually recommended Fr. Shanley never return to ministry.

I did see a letter in 1985 from a woman who complained about a talk Fr. Shanley gave that she found offensive because he seemed to advocate homosexual activity.

As I have reread that letter, I see a reference to sexual relations between an adult and a minor. I believed then and do now that sex between an adult and a minor is wrong and is also a crime. Sex between an adult and a child is never the fault of the child. It is always the adult who bears full responsibility for that horrible act. Why I did not focus on that reference in 1985, I don’t know. I’m sorry I didn’t. I wish I had.

This week I met with the sister of a victim of abuse by a priest from the Archdiocese of Boston. She is still hurting over the abuse of her brother, who has since passed away. She wanted to know whether I saw or suspected anything about this priest—a priest who lived in the same rectory with me and two other priests during the late 1960’s. I told her no, I never knew of any abuse, nor did I ever suspect it.

She asked me what can we do now? I understand her healing depends in part on her faith in God, and in part on her trusting that the Church will act to prevent future abuse.

Tonight I hope to provide her, other victims of abuse, and all members of the Church a view of what the Diocese will do to protect God’s children.

Here’s what I will do. My door is always open to victims. I have already met with several victims. I will meet with any others. I am personally committed to help anyone heal in any way I can.

In order to help victims, today I have asked Martha Van Oot, a respected attorney and civic leader, to develop an independent and voluntary mediation process for victims of child sexual abuse by priests. I have asked Attorney Van Oot to begin this work immediately.

Effective on February 15 of this year, I made public my decision not to assign a priest to pastoral ministry if the Diocese had a credible allegation about him regarding sexual misconduct with a minor.

As a Bishop and a Christian, I will continue to try to help priests who have committed abuse. I will pray for them. I will offer them professional assistance to gain control over their lives.

But, be clear------I will not hide them.

Our Diocese will continue to cooperate fully with all civil authorities in the investigation of child sexual abuse by anyone. I understand the child protection laws of our State. We have always complied with these laws.

I will instruct all persons who work with victims of child sexual abuse in our Diocese to explain to adults who come forward about abuse in their past their option to report the abuse to the civil authorities and to support them if they choose to do so.

I believe our Diocese has a strong, effective and clear policy on sexual misconduct. I also believe that any policy can be improved. I will ask a group, including Catholics and non-Catholics, to examine our policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct and to review decisions from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Dallas in June.

Any policy is only as effective as its implementation.

This week we will have completed training 2,500 priests, religious and lay members of our parishes, schools and institutions on our pastoral response to reports of child abuse, and what steps to take to help prevent future abuse. We have regular training for new priests, employees and volunteers.

I have directed my staff to engage a recognized firm to conduct a thorough review of our record-keeping systems and make specific recommendations to me for improvement.

Tonight I ask that all people of every faith pray each day for victims of child sexual abuse and their families. On May 19—Pentecost Sunday--I will celebrate a Mass of the Holy Spirit for Reparation and Healing at Saint Joseph Cathedral at 10:30 a.m.

I will ask all parishes--through a similar Mass in their own churches--to join me in praying for forgiveness, healing and a resolve to prevent child sexual abuse in our Church.

I intend to meet personally with community leaders, people from our parishes, and other citizens of our State. I need to listen to your concerns and to hear how you think I can work to make New Hampshire safe for our children.

I encourage parents to talk frankly with their children about child sexual abuse. I will make available age appropriate materials to assist parents in talking about this difficult but sensitive issue with their children.

I ask all children and youth to share with adults and one another any concerns you have about your own safety. You are never wrong for telling someone that you are afraid of being harmed.

Our Church bears the wounds of the sexual abuse of children. We recognize that in order to help victims heal, we must first address our shortcomings. As Bishop, I am dedicating myself to making our Churches safe for children. I cannot do this alone.

Although the sin and crime of abuse may rest upon a small minority within our Church, the solution comes from a united effort by all of us. We are a hopeful Church and we are blessed with the strength of the many dedicated priests, deacons, religious and laity who toil everyday in the fields of the Lord.

Tonight let us unite not just in prayer, but in action. Let today be the day when we proclaim our faith by acknowledging our weakness and admitting our failures so we can create a community that truly reflects Christ’s love of children and families.

I ask for your prayers that I may receive the guidance from the Holy Spirit to serve you well. And, I ask God to bless you and keep you in his heart.

Manchester bishop admits he reassigned accused priests

By Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
May 3, 2002

Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., has acknowledged reassigning Catholic priests accused of molesting children, but like his former supervisor, Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston, he asserts poor file keeping kept him from knowing the extent of those priests' problems.

"This is a terrible, embarrassing and tragic thing that we didn't have the information that, if we knew now, this never would have happened," McCormack told The Union Leader of Manchester in a report published yesterday."All I can say is it will not happen" in New Hampshire, he said, adding, "We want to make sure we have a filing system that is integrated that doesn't allow cases to fall through the cracks."

McCormack has been beset by revelations that while serving as director of ministerial personnel in the Archdiocese of Boston in the 1990s, he ignored warnings about abusive priests and had a hand in shuffling them to new parishes.

In lawsuits, he is accused of ignoring complaints against priests with long histories of abuse allegations, including defrocked and convicted child molester John J. Geoghan, and the Revs. Paul R. Shanley, arrested yesterday in San Diego for child rape, and the late Joseph E. Birmingham.

A Cape Cod man, David Coleman, said McCormack ignored abuse complaints made by Coleman in 1984 against another onetime Archdiocese of Boston priest, the Rev. Richard Coughlin. Coughlin left the Bay State in 1965 and ran a boys' choir in Orange County, Calif., until 1993, when he was arrested for sexually molesting children.

Coleman said he told McCormack of abuse by Coughlin. McCormack claims he passed those charges on to California, but diocesan officials there have told the Herald they received no warning.

Additionally, documents released in the Shanley case show McCormack wrote to the priest in 1993 about worries Shanley had that his past would catch up to him. One document from McCormack read, "regarding your idea of a safe house" for problem priests, "we have a place in mind."

McCormack told the paper he wishes he had paid closer attention to signs of trouble with Shanley, who is accused of molesting children for three decades and promulgating man-boy love.

McCormack, who was put in charge of Shanley in 1990 by Law and who left Boston for Manchester in 1998, told the paper he did not think Shanley meant what he said or would act on it.

He called Shanley a "pretty sick guy" and said he was angry the priest "duped" him into believing he was out of money and taking on second jobs to support himself while on sick leave in southern California during the early 1990s.

Supporting his idea that poor filing is at the root of the church's mishandling of so many priests, McCormack said when he took over Shanley's case, he did not learn of the abuse alleged against Shanley that date back to 1967.

He also said he was unaware of the now 71-year-old priest's public advocacy of man-boy sex, though church records contain numerous letters about the matter, including one from the Vatican in 1979.

Law was roundly castigated two weeks ago when he asserted in a letter to priests that "inadequate" record keeping was the cause of the church's molestation crisis.

McCormack also defended the often cordial tone of his letters to Shanley. He said he has known Shanley since they attended seminary together. "I was still trying to be kind, but also was trying to carry out my role."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photo Caption - Meet the Press: District Attorney Martha Coakley, center, with First Assistant District Attorney Lynn Rooney and Newton police Lt. Paul Anastasia in Cambridge discuss the arrest of the Rev. Paul Shanley. Staff photo by Jim Mahoney.]

Bishop’s address leaves many questions unanswered

By J.M. Hirsch
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
May 5, 2003

Concord, N.H. -- In two interviews last week, Bishop John B. McCormack acknowledged making mistakes in the child sexual abuse scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church and pledged not to repeat them.

But some New Hampshire Catholics say McCormack hasn’t been forthcoming enough about accusations that he ignored warnings about abusive priests and helped shuffle them to new parishes when he was a top church official in Boston for a decade.

McCormack stressed Thursday that his job in Boston did not include assigning priests. But in the same interview he said he put one priest on administrative leave, indicating he had considerable power, and that he made recommendations about assignments.

His answers also left a host of specifics – dates, incidents and decisions – mired in a cross fire of claims, counterclaims and confusion.

University of New Hampshire professor Jim Farrell would like an exact count of how many complaints or accusations of sexual misconduct against active priests McCormack handled while in Boston.

Farrell, who is organizing a petition drive calling for McCormack’s resignation, also wants to know whether McCormack ever contacted civil authorities to report that children were in danger, and whether he ever helped keep information about abusive priests secret.

Ellen Hayward, a parishioner at St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester, called McCormack’s statement Thursday “overly cautious and crafted.”

“Why did it take so long to respond?” she added.

McCormack has declined requests for interviews from The Associated Press since March. McCormack spokesman Patrick McGee fielded some of Farrell’s questions Friday before expressing frustration at their number and specificity.

“I think that he’s (McCormack) laid out what his role was, how he handled that role,” McGee said. “I don’t know that he’s going to respond to a long series of specific questions from individuals.”

McCormack, 66, was secretary of ministerial personnel for the Boston archdiocese from 1984-1994 and handled sexual abuse complaints against priests for Cardinal Bernard Law for several years.

In interviews last week with The Union Leader of Manchester and WMUR-TV he blamed poor record keeping, a lack of understanding of the nature of sexual abuse and simply being left out of the loop for not doing more to prevent Massachusetts priests from abusing children. He also apologized for the harm done by abusive priests, asked forgiveness and said he wishes he had done more to keep children safe.

But after watching McCormack, Hayward and others said they still want more specifics, especially about his handling of the Rev. Paul Shanley, a Massachusetts priest accused of molesting children over 30 years.

Church records indicate the archdiocese knew for decades of allegations that Shanley was molesting children. The records also contain letters detailing Shanley’s public advocacy of sex between men and boys.

And in 1985, McCormack was asked to respond to a letter from a Brighton, Mass., woman who complained about a speech Shanley gave about homosexuality and sex with children.

The woman quoted Shanley as saying, “When adults have sex with children, the children seduced them. Children may later regret having caused someone to go to prison, knowing that they are the guilty ones.”

McCormack told the woman he was sorry Shanley had upset her and promised to speak to Shanley. Church records contain no record of it, but McCormack said he did so and concluded the woman “misunderstood him.”

McCormack also said he doesn’t know why he didn’t do more about Shanley’s remarks, but said he did not take Shanley seriously and assumed it was just talk.

For Hayward, that doesn’t add up.

“How could he not have known, based on his role and based upon some of the complaints that did come to him? It seems it was incumbent upon him to do some research,” she said.

Church documents released under court order contain sexual assault allegations against Shanley dating from the 1960s. Last month, The Boston Globe reported that the archdiocese paid a Massachusetts man $40,000 in 1991 after he claimed Shanley repeatedly raped him in 1972, when the man was 12 or 13.

On Thursday, McCormack said those documents were not in the Shanley file he reviewed and said he is frustrated and puzzled that they weren’t.

He said the first sexual assault accusation he received about Shanley was in 1993 and involved a 15-year-old altar boy.

“When I received the complaint that began our investigation I placed Father Shanley on administrative leave and eventually recommended Father Shanley never return to ministry,” McCormack said.

But the recently released church records do not document either event. Nor is it clear from the public record what investigation McCormack was referring to.

McGee said he thinks there might be paperwork that would provide such details, but he could not immediately say where.

Also unclear is how much influence McCormack had in assigning priests. Though he said Thursday he put Shanley on administrative leave, he also said his job was administrative and he never assigned priests.

In a sworn statement in a civil lawsuit in Boston last year, McCormack said he served on a board that recommended the appointment of John Geoghan to a Massachusetts church in 1984. Geoghan, since defrocked and jailed, is accused of molesting more than 130 children.

The church records show that by 1984, the archdiocese and Law had received numerous complaints about Geoghan, including allegations he had molested seven boys from a single family.

A Merrimack man who says he was molested by a priest during the 1960s wants to ask McCormack how that could have happened.

“Why didn’t you do anything about it? These are little kids these people are preying on,” the man, who asked not to be identified, said in an interview Thursday.

He is among 40 people suing McCormack and the archdiocese over alleged abuse at the hands of the Rev. Joseph Birmingham. They say McCormack knew about Birmingham’s abuse at their parish in Salem, Mass., but did nothing to stop it.

McCormack said Thursday he believed the matter was handled when he reported the complaint to Birmingham’s pastor. He also said he once confronted Birmingham, who told him he was “clean.”

The bishop said that in coming months he plans to meet with people around the state to hear their concerns, and called for a statewide healing Mass later this month.

McCormack remaining at diocese’s helm, asking for trust

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
May 10, 2003

Despite loud calls for his resignation, Bishop John McCormack intends to keep leading the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, especially through the clergy sexual abuse crisis in which he had a role.

McCormack announced Thursday that as he follows through his papal appointment as bishop, he will commit his service to protecting children from future harm. He asks New Hampshire Catholics for their prayers, support and willingness to place trust in him.

“In the past, the response of church leaders, including myself, to these horrific acts is now revealed to have been flawed and inadequate,” McCormack wrote in a statement. “I have asked forgiveness from God, His people, and especially the victims of abuse for the part I played in this response.”

McCormack, as secretary of ministerial personnel for the Boston archdiocese from 1984-94, handled sexual abuse complaints against priests for Cardinal Bernard Law.

In interviews last week, McCormack faulted poor record keeping, a lack of understanding of the nature of sexual abuse and being kept out of the loop for his failure to stop Massachusetts priests from abusing children. Court records show the archdiocese ignored warnings on abusive priests and shuffled them to other parishes.

New Hampshire Catholics seeking his resignation criticize McCormack for not providing enough information about his role in Boston. A petition drive circulating through some of the state’s churches asks the bishop to step down, and on Wednesday, The Union Leader published a front page editorial calling for his resignation.

“Even though some think I should step aside, Pope John Paul II appointed me to be your shepherd,” McCormack wrote. “I know and believe that my role as bishop is to be faithful to my responsibilities both in hard times as well as good. I am committed to this fidelity, and my work is far from complete.”

McCormack acknowledges that New Hampshire Catholics may lack trust in the way he handled sexual abuse complaints in Boston. He considers his current challenge the task of making the church a safe place for everyone, and promises “to do everything in my power to accomplish this goal.”

In the statement, McCormack claims he has intensified the diocese’s efforts to protect children. He cites an “open and fair investigation of all complaints with broader participation of the laity, full cooperation with civil authority and a firm commitment to never assign or employ a known child abuser” as the hallmarks of the diocese’s efforts.

“Every day I pray that the Lord will help me to be a better bishop. I am not perfect. My imperfections are open to God’s grace, and, because of this, I am able to grow, improve and move forward.”

Meanwhile, a lawyer preparing a class-action lawsuit against the Manchester diocese said Thursday that dozens of alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests are ready to join the lawsuit.

Peter Hutchins would not specify the number of people who have contacted his firm, but said the number has more than tripled since he first filed the lawsuit April 10 at Hillsborough County Superior Court.

The lawsuit, which still must be certified as a class action by a judge, accuses the Diocese of Manchester and its employees of conspiring to conceal the names of priests who abused children.

Hutchins said his clients, who range in age from 21 to 65, represent victims of more than 20 New Hampshire priests from across the state.

He said a class-action lawsuit benefits the diocese as well as benefits his clients.

“For the diocese, the concept of a class action provides an opportunity to reach out to all victims of sexual abuse in New Hampshire to hopefully avoid the legal morass currently taking place in Massachusetts,” Hutchins said in a written statement.

The Archdiocese of Boston last week backed out of a settlement with the victims of former priest John Geoghan. That settlement would have been worth up to $30 million.

Court: Separation of church, state won't protect Law

By Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
May 10, 2002

Even as Bernard Cardinal Law crammed for Round 2 of his sworn deposition in the John J. Geoghan molestation case, Law's lawyers were before a judge again yesterday arguing state courts have no jurisdiction over his or his church's role in the clerical abuse scandal.

William D. Rogers Jr., counsel for Law, asserted that under the First Amendment, courts may not inquire into the clergy assignment practices of religious groups.

He cited an April decision by the state's high court rejecting efforts by a female Episcopal minister to sue over her removal from parish work on discrimination grounds.

But in a ruling from the bench, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond Brassard rebuffed Rogers, who wanted the judge to use the new Supreme Judicial Court ruling to toss out civil actions against Law, his clerical subordinates, and the Archdiocese of Boston, all on constitutional grounds of church-state separation. Brassard sided with plaintiffs' attorney Robert A. Sherman, ruling the state had a compelling interest in protecting children which superceded the freedom of religious denominations to assign ministers outside all government oversight.

Sherman had argued that under Rogers' First Amendment theory, Law could reassign priests such as Paul R. Shanley or John J. Geoghan tomorrow yet face no civil or criminal accountability for any negative results from such a decision.

"Courts might have to deal incidentally with canon law," Sherman said, "but that does not deprive them of all supervisory authority."

Shanley was back in court today for a bail-reduction hearing before Superior Court Judge Charles Hely. Wearing a light gray suit, he watched encircled by court officers as his lawyer, Frank Mondano, said allegations by Middlesex prosecutors that Shanley was a flight risk were "absolute fiction."

Shanley has been jailed since Monday on $750,000 cash bail for allegedly raping a Newton boy, Paul Busa, over a six-year period from 1984 to 1990.

Busa is represented by Sherman and his colleague, Roderick MacLeish Jr., who are set to depose Law in a separate set of lawsuits on June 5.

Mondano said Shanley had deep family ties to Massachusetts, and that economic need tethered him to the archdiocese because the church covers his health care and retirement needs.

"Mr. Shanley is a 71-year-old man of poor means, poor health and no criminal record," Mondano told Hely.

Requesting bail not be changed, Assistant Middlesex County prosecutor Lynn Rooney said internal church correspondence showed Shanley gave frequent thought to moving to Costa Rica, Mexico or Guatemala.

"If you need to stash a priest, I can help," Rooney quoted Shanley as saying to a supervisory church official in one letter.

Hely said he would rule soon.

In Boston, meanwhile, Mitchell Garabedian, lawyer for the 86 plaintiffs suing Law and 16 others in the Geoghan case, spent the day preparing to ask the nation's senior Roman Catholic prelate more questions about Geoghan and last week's demise of a $20 million to $30 million church settlement.

And in Concord, N.H., Bishop John B. McCormack, 66, one of the defendants in the Geoghan case, said he will not give up his post.

McCormack was a secretary of ministerial personnel for the Boston archdiocese from 1984 to 1994, a period when Shanley and Geoghan were both active as priests.

Photo Captions - Mondano: Calls allegations of Shanley flight risk `fiction.’
Being Held: The Rev. Paul Shanley appears for a bail hearing at Middlesex District Court yesterday, where his attorney asked a judge to lower his $750,000 bail.]

Church judged Shanley ‘beyond repair’

Tom Mashberg and Eric Convey
Boston (MA) Herald
May 15, 2002

The Archdiocese of Boston let the Rev. Paul R. Shanley help run a Catholic hotel in the mid-1990s despite possessing confidential reports diagnosing him as an "aberrant" sexual threat to minors, newly released documents show.

The records also indicate that top Boston church officials were told Shanley was afflicted with a "pathology beyond repair," but alerted no one outside the church - not even the nuns at the Catholic hostel in New York City.

And despite a series of alarming psychiatric testimonials similar to those in the John J. Geoghan serial abuse case, Bernard Cardinal Law and his key subordinates went so far as to recommend Shanley for the post of director of The Leo House in Manhattan in 1997. They also formally lifted all restrictions on his living near children.

"It's clear now that by 1994, the archdiocese knew full well Shanley was a clinically diagnosed threat to children, yet kept this information from the public," said Roderick MacLeish Jr., the attorney who won the release of the papers yesterday. "It's beyond belief the archdiocese felt no obligation to go back to those parishes where this man preyed on kids and tell them about this," he said. "It's an obligation they abandoned."

Absent from the papers released yesterday was Shanley's full discharge summary from the Institute of Living, a Hartford center that has treated scores of priests for sexual issues, including Geoghan.

A judge has yet to rule whether the summary is a public document, and the church asserts it has no copy of it in its files, even though similar reports were found and made public in the Geoghan case.

Rodney Ford, father of alleged Shanley victim Greg Ford of Newton, said he was skeptical the document was truly missing. "Cardinal Law must be some kind of magician," he said. "He makes documents appear and disappear."

Still, among the 50 or so files freed up by court order are "confidential" archdiocesan memos that show Law's two top personnel deputies of the 1980s and 1990s - the Revs. John B. McCormack and Brian M. Flatley - had read the psychiatric workups on Shanley and knew they were disturbing.

For example, McCormack wrote in an Aug. 30, 1994, memo that according to a doctor familiar with Shanley, the notorious Newton ex- pastor "is so personally damaged that his pathology is beyond repair; it cannot be reversed."

Later in the memo, McCormack, now under fire as bishop of Manchester, N.H., for his oversight of molesters in the Greater Boston clergy, writes: "How do we protect others from him. Could he be laicized? What is important is that he does not practice as a priest."

In a memo a year later, Flatley informs Monsignor Edward D. O'Donnell, vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York, that in 1993 "it became known . . . that Father Shanley had a past history of aberrant sexual involvements" and that four young men had made formal complaints against him, two of which were subject to settlements.

Shanley is currently being held on $300,000 cash bail, charged with raping CCD student Paul Busa of Newton from 1984 until 1989, when Shanley was pastor at St. Jean's/St. John's Parish in Newton, which Greg Ford attended.

Shortly after his Sept. 15, 1995, memo, Flatley visited Shanley at Leo House to inspect the surroundings and ensure the "priest in good standing" was abiding by restrictions on his access to minors. In a memo on the visit, he said he left it to Shanley to find a social worker who could serve "as a monitor for him." Shanley was allowed to remain at the hostel, which served religious and lay Catholics and their families, well into 1998, church files show.

At no time were the nuns or staff of Leo House, who numbered about 35, told of Shanley's negative psychiatric record. Then, on Dec. 13, 1995, Sister Anne Karlin, one of the sisters of St. Agnes who helped run Leo House, said she received an alarming anonymous phone call from a man who accused Shanley of "being a child molester."

In a letter to Law written the next morning, Karlin said: "Here I am with this time-bomb. . . . Please send your truthful assessment at your earliest convenience."

There is no record in the Shanley files of a response from Law to Karlin. But the documents show that on Feb. 29, 1996, Law wrote to Shanley commending his "impressive record," and more than a year later, in June 1997, he recommended to the Archdiocese of New York that Shanley be allowed to take over as director of Leo House.

The new files include a 1994 letter from Shanley to McCormack pleading that McCormack argue for Shanley before a meeting of the review board Law set up in 1993 to assess troubled priests.

The board's report on Shanley, issued internally in October 1994, said in part: "It seems the priest's personality and pathology do not offer much hope for improvement."

McCormack has said his supervision of Shanley was impaired by the absence of an "integrated filing system."

McCormack, whose resignation was urged last week by the Manchester Union Leader, has also claimed he was unaware of Shanley's public advocacy of sex with children during the 1980s. It came as a "shock" to learn about the remarks recently, he told the Union Leader earlier this month.

"It was a shock to everybody . . . why these files weren't there doesn't make sense," he said.

But in 1985, according to the Union Leader, McCormack wrote to a woman who had complained about a Shanley speech, saying he regretted it was so disturbing.

A spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., where Shanley also served in the early 1990s, said Boston church officials did not tell them Shanley was a problem until October 1993 - long after Shanley was ministering to California children.

But a letter released yesterday indicated that McCormack was aware in 1991 that Shanley had severe problems.

"Fr. Shanley is primarily crippled by his psychiatric illness," wrote Dr. Edwin H. Cassem, a Jesuit priest and Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatrist.
That illness was apparently anxiety related and did not involve a diagnosis of sexual problems, the documents show.

Law, questioned under oath last week and this week as part of civil cases brought by alleged Geoghan victims, laid much of the blame for the archdiocese's handling of clerical abuse cases on subordinates in the church hierarchy.

He did not name McCormack specifically, but referred to similar positions over time frames during which McCormack held them.

Lawyers for the archdiocese had no comment after the hearing yesterday that led to the release of the documents. During the hearing, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond Brassard agreed with lawyers for the Herald and other news media that "the interest of the public having access to this matter outweighs the privacy concerns and makes appropriate public access."

Brassard also ruled that MacLeish could depose three archdiocese officials responsible for personnel files and abuse intake reports in the coming weeks as he prepares to depose Law on June 5.

He also said he would consider arguments as to whether transcripts of the deposition should be released as soon as they are typed.

And he said he would weigh whether to order the church to disgorge personnel files on 11 other problem priests for use in questioning Law.

[Images of Shanley-related documents.]

Bad P.R. cited in slow start to Catholic Charities appeal

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
May 15, 2002

At the least, New Hampshire Catholic Charities’ annual fund-raising appeal could not have come at a more inopportune time.

The nonprofit social service agency started its campaign drive last month, when nearly a day didn’t pass without a breaking development in the Catholic church clergy sexual abuse crisis.

Now, three weeks into its annual appeal, NHCC is $16,000 behind last year. One charity official only hopes donations increase and Catholics do not use the crisis as a reason to stop giving.

“Fund-raising at a time like this is extremely difficult,” said Susan Howland, director of planning and development for NHCC. “We rely on the Catholic community for our funding.”

NHCC will run its annual appeal throughout the summer. It hopes to raise $3.3 million. Last year at this time, NHCC had raised $282,000, but has received only $266,000 so far, Howland said.

Howland will not jump the gun. She thinks it is too early to predict whether the church crisis will hamper NHCC’s campaign.

She does, however, see some Catholics holding a grudge against the church and using their pocketbooks as weapons of protest.

“I hope and pray they are the minority,” Howland said.

If NHCC receives a denial letter from a disgruntled donor, the organization will respond, she said. NHCC emphasizes that charitable donations will not help defend the church against claims of clergy sexual abuse, she said.

“It’s not for lawsuits,” Howland said. “For people who feel that way, the people who they are hurting need counseling or food right away. Those are the ones who are going to suffer.”

Some donors have sent contributions only after receiving such assurances from NHCC, Howland said.

“I’m optimistic and happy where we are,” Howland said. “I’m not feeling bad about being $16,000 below. You could say I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m not doing a happy dance, but I’m excited about the next few weeks.”

Howland expects contributions to rise over that time and start making it “a really good campaign this year.”

In contrast, NHCC’s sister organization in Massachusetts is more than $1 million behind in fund-raising, according to The Pilot, the nation’s oldest Catholic newspaper.

But Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston primarily faults state budget cuts. With many social service programs slashed, Catholic Charities – Massachusetts’ largest charitable provider – lost many of its contracts and has come up short fiscally, The Pilot said.

Catholics in the Bay State, however, are not stepping forward to stem the losses, The Pilot said.

New Hampshire Catholic Charities started its annual campaign on April 27. NHCC workers and Diocese of Manchester clergy attended weekend Masses around the state and spoke of the charity’s programs, Howland said.

“People were very kind,” Howland said of parishioners she met. “People are very happy to hear what we’re doing.”

NHCC provides food to 243 state soup kitchens and food pantries, Howland said. The organization also operates the New Hampshire Food Bank in Manchester.

NHCC also offers marriage counseling, parenting classes, support groups, temporary and permanent housing for children and the elderly, job training, immigration assistance, sign language classes, and maternity and adoption services.

More than 39,000 people received some form of assistance from NHCC last year, Howland said. Ninety-three cents of every dollar donated goes directly to a NHCC program, she said.

The current shortfall “is not bad, but we’d like to be $16,000 over where we were last year,” Howland said.

Church says abuse claim came after priest’s death

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
May 27, 2002

Manchester -- The Diocese of Manchester said Sunday it did not receive a complaint about a former priest accused of sexually abusing a child at a summer camp it runs until after the man died in February.

The diocese said the report of misconduct with a minor was not related to the Rev. Karl Dowd’s ministry at Camp Fatima, an idyllic collection of lakeside cabins it runs in Gilmanton.

In a statement, the diocese did not elaborate on the complaint it received, but said it is being investigated. A spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Reports about deceased persons do not pose a public safety issue, however, all accusations are thoroughly investigated,” the diocese said.

The diocese also responded to an Associated Press report on Saturday that at least eight clergymen face abuse allegations involving Camp Fatima. The diocese reiterated Sunday that prior to the story, it had not received any reports of sexual misconduct with minors by priests at the camp.

Manchester Bishop John McCormack said he is “deeply saddened by the report that a child may have been harmed,” and indicated that “he is willing to assist anyone who has been hurt by another in the church.”

He added, “The protection of children and the forthright response of the church to persons harmed must be our utmost concern and our first priority as a family of faith,” McCormack said in the statement.

County prosecutor Lauren Noether last week would not disclose the number and nature of allegations under investigation at the camp, which is host to several hundred boys ages 6-15 each summer.

Authorities do say all the alleged assaults happened at least a decade ago.

Among the accusations: A Manchester man says he was 9 years old and had just been chosen as an altar boy when Dowd, the director of the Roman Catholic summer camp, sexually assaulted him in the camp’s chapel in 1972.

Dowd was the camp’s director from 1968 to 1990.

More data ordered freed on allegations

By Matt Carroll
Boston (MA) Globe
May 29, 2002

The Archdiocese of Boston yesterday was ordered to turn over by the end of the week any allegations of sexual misconduct it has against 11 priests to an attorney whose clients assert they were sexually abused by the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. said he will use the documents in an effort to show that the archdiocese had a pattern of knowingly reassigning priests accused of sexual abuse to parish after parish.

The order by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond J. Brassard broadens considerably the topics Cardinal Bernard F. Law can be questioned about at his deposition in the Shanley case next week, MacLeish said. Until the order, his questions were restricted to Law's handling of Shanley. Now, he can question Law about the other priests as well.

The judge ordered the archdiocese to turn over the documents tomorrow and Friday. Only documents that allege abuse or show there was an investigation need to be turned over. Documents that merely mention the priest or refer to other matters are exempt, Brassard said.

Gregory Ford and Paul Busa, both of Newton, have filed lawsuits saying they were sexually abused by Shanley when they were young boys. Shanley was arrested in San Diego on May 2 and faces three counts of rape in the Busa case.

Another court ruling yesterday also effectively means that Law's two days of scheduled depositions next week could be released to the public almost immediately. That ruling by Brassard differs dramatically from another court order this month on the release of the transcript from Law's first deposition.

Brassard said the depositions, scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, can be released to the public as soon as they are certified by the stenographer, which attorneys on both sides said could be shortly after it was over on Friday. A videotape of the deposition can also be released when it is certified, although one attorney said that might take a day longer.

Paula and Rodney Ford, Gregory Ford's parents, said they expected to attend Law's deposition.

Brassard said his ruling on the quick release of transcripts affected only Law and two top former Boston church officials, Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, and Bishop John B. McCormack of New Hampshire, who as "senior members of the archdiocese are on a different footing than the others." McCormack is scheduled to be deposed on Monday; Daily on June 13.

Law was deposed earlier this month for lawsuits over former priest John J. Geoghan, who in January was convicted of molesting a child and sentenced to prison. A transcript of the first day's deposition was released immediately afterward, which upset Law's attorneys and Judge Constance Sweeney. Sweeney since has ordered that Law be allowed 30 days to review his transcripts before they are released.

The 11 priests whose files will be turned over are: Paul J. Mahan, Paul M. Desilets, John R. Hanlon, Richard O. Matte, James Talbot, Bernard J. Lane, Joseph E. Birmingham, Ernest E. Tourigney, Ronald H. Paquin, Eugene O'Sullivan, and Daniel M. Graham.

After the hearing, MacLeish said he had been told that Law's "chronological file," which would include records of everything he had mailed out, had not yet been checked as part of discovery for documents related to the case.

Records show Law reassigned Paquin after settlements

By Stephen Kurkjian
Boston (MA) Globe
May 30, 2002

Cardinal Bernard F. Law reinstated the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin to priestly duties as recently as 1998, despite numerous detailed complaints of molestation against the priest and substantial monetary settlements to Paquin's accusers, according to internal church documents made available to the Globe.

According to the documents, between 1990 and 1996 there were 13 complaints to the archdiocese alleging sexual misbehavior by Paquin over the previous two decades. The accusations were filled with grim detail about how Paquin allegedly plied boys with gifts and liquor before molesting and orally raping them - charges that prompted the church to make payments to his victims.

The behavior was found to be so repugnant and the pattern of abuse so clear that a church review board and a top deputy to Law urged that Paquin be dismissed from the priesthood, though they later changed their minds and said he should be given a second chance.

In 1990, after years of warnings that Paquin was molesting children in Methuen and Haverhill, the archdiocese had removed him as associate pastor at St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill. Paquin was sent for extended treatment in Maryland, then lived at a home for problem priests in Milton.

The documents show that Law's 1998 decision allowing Paquin to return to duty as a chaplain at a Cambridge hospital was made at the urging of another priest who had himself been removed from parish work for allegedly molesting children.

''I know that there have been some very difficult moments for you,'' Law wrote to Paquin in a July 11, 1998 letter. ''I trust that your own continued vigilance and support of competent professionals will allow you to begin a new phase of ministry in the Archdiocese.''

Paquin was warned that he could not work with minors, and the hospital, Youville Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in Cambridge, was informed of his background.

Law's letter came six months after he had defrocked the Rev. John J. Geoghan, the since-convicted child molester whose case touched off the clergy sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.

Paquin's reinstatement is one in a string of decisions, by Law and his top deputies, that permitted some priests with records of serial sexual misconduct to return to active ministry after being found out and treated. In Paquin's case, the reassignment was permitted under the sexual abuse policy that Law promulgated in 1993. It remained in place until Law declared a ''zero tolerance'' policy in January.

But the documents show the church knew that Paquin had been the target of multiple complaints of sex abuse. In one 1995 letter, the Rev. Brian M. Flatley, an aide to Law, wrote to the cardinal that the father of one Paquin victim ''is in contact with other victims of Father Paquin (although he seems unaware of just how many there are.)''

Donna M. Morrissey, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, declined comment on the Paquin documents, saying the case is in litigation.

Law's letter to Paquin was among hundreds of pages of church documents obtained during litigation by Jeffrey A. Newman, a Boston lawyer who represents several of Paquin's victims in lawsuits against the archdiocese. Newman obtained the documents last month and has a motion before the court to put the documents on record.

Before Law reassigned Paquin as a chaplain, the archdiocese had already settled six of the 13 reported molestation cases for more than $500,000 according to the documents and interviews by the Globe.

It was not until 2000 that Paquin was permanently removed from service, after the archdiocese received several more complaints of past abuse against him, including one from a Dracut man who expressed dismay that Paquin was still working as a priest, and threatened to go to the press, according to the documents.

Paquin, 59, was indicted on three counts of rape of a child on May 15 and is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail in Essex County House of Correction. At Paquin's arraignment, Essex Assistant District Attorney William E. Fallon said Paquin established a relationship of trust with the alleged victim and his family, and took advantage of it to molest the youth beginning when he was 11, in 1989. Paquin has pleaded not guilty.

The documents confirm a report by the Globe in April that Paquin's superiors suspected or knew about his sexual exploitation of youngsters for years before anything was done. But the records also show that one superior, who had received complaints from three people about Paquin and assured them he would notify the archdiocese, did not do so.

The Rev. Allen E. Roche, the pastor at St. Monica's Church in Methuen, where Paquin was an associate pastor for eight years after his 1973 ordination, is quoted in an archdiocesan memorandum as saying he never informed the archdiocese even though he had heard repeated reports that Paquin had taken young boys to his rectory bedroom.

According to a memorandum prepared by Sister Rita V. McCarthy, a Chancery official who investigated allegations against priests, Roche told her two years before his death in 1997 ''that he had not liked the idea'' of Paquin taking boys to his room, and he told her that at least one youth had complained to him that Paquin molested him in the room.

Roche said he was nearing retirement, according to the memo, and decided to do nothing about his concerns. McCarthy also wrote that the same boy who complained to Roche also told the Rev. James M. Carroll of the incident. Carroll, who had taken Paquin's place at St. Monica's, relayed the information to Roche, but according to McCarthy, ''again nothing was done.''

The same memo also cites a 1981 auto accident, after Paquin's transfer to Haverhill, in which one of four teenage boys Paquin took to a New Hampshire ski chalet died after Paquin lost control of the car on a New Hampshire highway. Roche again considered telling the archdiocese about the earlier allegations, but, McCarthy wrote, ''The timing was not right so nothing was done at that time.''

The Globe reported in April that three people quoted Roche as saying that he had passed on complaints to the archdiocese. The three included a parishioner who had served as the sexual assault officer for the Methuen Police Department; Robert Bartlett, one of Paquin's alleged victims; and Carroll.

In 1988, the Rev. Frederick E. Sweeney became suspicious about Paquin's involvement with boys soon after taking over as pastor of St. John's in Haverhill, where Paquin had been working as associate pastor since 1981.

Three months after complaining to archdiocesan officials about Paquin, two young men, one of whom had allegedly been abused by Paquin, approached Sweeney with information about the priest.

After they also met with the Rev. John B. McCormack, who headed the archdiocese's office of clergy abuse, McCormack informed Paquin in September 1990 that he was being removed from St. John's Church and sent for treatment to St. Luke's Institute in Maryland.

According to the documents, McCormack, who is now bishop of the Manchester, N.H., diocese, allowed Paquin to return to Methuen after his treatment to take courses on training to become a hospital chaplain. Even though he was officially listed by the archdiocese as being on sick leave, Paquin continued to study at Bon Secours Hospital in Methuen in 1991 and 1992 and was ministering to patients.

''Two weeks ago, I covered the entire week for Fr. Frank Murphy while he went on vacation,'' Paquin wrote in March 1992. ''I became the hospital chaplain and I was proud of the good job I did. It was a great teachable moment for me.''

A few months later, in September 1992, an adult male whom Paquin had met at the hospital filed a complaint against him with the archdiocese for alleged inappropriate behavior.

Several months later, McCormack was approached by another youth who alleged that he had been abused by Paquin years earlier, beginning when he was a preteen at St. Monica's and continuing to the time he entered St. John's Seminary. In addition to detailing the abuse he suffered, the seminarian told McCormack that Paquin had taken up with another youth from the Haverhill area while studying to become a hospital chaplain.

When confronted with the allegations, Paquin acknowledged to McCormack that ''he had done things wrong in the past,'' one memo said, but asserted he had not abused any youths since undergoing treatment at St. Luke's in 1990 and 1991 and was not molesting the Haverhill youth.

There is reason now to doubt that account. The person whom Paquin is charged with raping - from 1989 to June 30, 1992 - in the indictments issued by the Essex County grand jury was the Haverhill youth whom McCormack had told Paquin to stay away from.

Through a spokesman, McCormack said he remembered recommending that Paquin leave the priesthood, but without the documents in front of him, he could recall little beyond that.

Paquin remained on sick leave through much of the 1990s. And as the archdiocese fielded - and settled - the formal complaints of sexual misconduct against him, some of his superiors expressed misgivings about Paquin remaining a priest.

After being notified by a Brockton man that Paquin had allegedly abused his son and nephew, who had AIDS, Flatley, then Law's delegate handling allegations of clergy abuse, approached Law's top deputy, Bishop William F. Murphy, in March 1996. ''Bishop Murphy was very clear in his insistence that it is time for Father Paquin to move away from the priesthood,'' Flatley wrote in a memorandum.

But Paquin began to press to be returned to ministry. The archdiocese wanted him either to leave the priesthood altogether or at least give up his lay job working at a CVS pharmacy in Milton, because it was putting him in contact with children.

Flatley, after fielding a complaint from another past victim of Paquin, wrote in a March 28, 1996 memo that ''it is irresponsible for the Archdiocese to allow him to be working where there are young people [at CVS], given his history.''

Paquin refused to leave the priesthood but agreed to leave the CVS job if the archdiocese would consider allowing him to return to work as a priest. He was no longer at risk, he assured church officials: He had not been accused of molesting boys for years and was enrolled in an ''after-care'' treatment program.

It was while he was working at CVS, and residing at Our Lady's Hall, a Milton residential facility for troubled priests, that Paquin was allegedly bringing a teenage Haverhill boy into Our Lady's Hall numerous times for sexual encounters, according to a lawsuit against Paquin. That claim involves the same person Paquin is now criminally accused of raping.

Yet in a meeting in January 1997, Paquin proposed to Bishop Murphy that he be allowed to work with the Rev. C. Melvin Surette, then a research assistant with the office handling clergy abuse, ''in finding employment within the Church,'' Murphy wrote.

Even though he had stated less than a year earlier that Paquin should leave the priesthood because of the mounting complaints against him, Murphy now wrote of Paquin's request to return to ministry: ''I would be very supportive of this.''

Murphy, now a bishop in Rockville Centre on Long Island, N.Y., declined comment.

He was not the only archdiocesan official willing to give Paquin another chance. The Archdiocese's Review Board, a panel charged with investigating sex abuse allegations against priests and recommending action to the cardinal, had recommended in 1994 that Paquin seek ''laicization.'' But in May 1997, it voted to let him work again as a priest as long as it ''does not put him in contact with minors.''

By September, Surette told his superiors that he had placed Paquin as a chaplain at an archdiocese-sponsored elderly nursing home in Lynn. A few months later, Surette had found a more prestigious assignment for him, as chaplain at the Youville Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, a position that would pay him $1,716 a month, $300 above what church pastors were receiving.

In 1994, before Surette was assigned to the archdiocese's office dealing with clergy abuse, the archdiocese settled a lawsuit that accused Surette of abusing youths at Alpha Omega, a church-run treatment center for troubled teenage boys in Littleton. Through his lawyer, Surette has denied the allegation, but in recent weeks three other former occupants of the home have filed suit alleging that Surette abused them during the time they spent at Alpha Omega.

Law gave the archdiocese's official approval of the Paquin reassignment with his July 1998 letter to the priest. ''I am confident of your ability to minister competently and compassionately to the community at Youville,'' the cardinal wrote.

However, two years later, Law withdrew that support. Between May 1999 and September 2000, the archdiocese received five new complaints from men who alleged that they had been abused by Paquin in the 1970s and 1980s, when they were teenagers.

Among the complaints was one from a 38-year old Dracut man who told the archdiocese that he was ''shocked'' to hear that Paquin was still acting as a priest and chaplain, and demanded to be paid $250,000 or he would take his case to the press.

Within months, at the Review Board's recommendation, Law told Paquin that he was removing him from Youville and taking away his official authority as a priest. In December 2000, Law wrote the Vatican asking that Paquin be defrocked.

''Father Paquin has engaged in sexual molestation of numerous boys since and before he was ordained'' and 18 cases have already been reported to the archdiocese, Law wrote Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state for the Vatican. ''It is my judgment that he is the cause, potential and actual, of grave scandal.''


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