Manchester NH Resources
June 1–8, 2002
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McCormack deposition set for today
By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
June 3, 2002
Concord, N.H. -- Bishop John B. McCormack will face questions today on
what he knew about the alleged sexual abuse of three boys by a Massachusetts
priest during the 1980s.
The alleged victims, all now in their mid-20s and from Newton, Mass.,
have filed lawsuits in Massachusetts accusing the Rev. Paul Shanley of
molesting them starting when they were about 6 while he was assigned to
St. Jean Parish in Newton.
The men also claim that church officials, including McCormack, failed
to protect them from repeated sexual abuse by the now-retired Shanley,
who also faces criminal charges of raping one of the boys.
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.
The deposition is being held at Hampshire Plaza in Manchester.
Bishop said to have ignored nun’s
advice on abusive priests
By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
June 4, 2002
Manchester -- Bishop John B. McCormack ignored requests by a Roman Catholic
nun that he warn Boston-area parishes about several priests who had been
accused of molesting children, a lawyer for three alleged victims said
The disclosure came hours before McCormack began 5½ hours of questioning
by lawyers for three men who say they were molested by the Rev. Paul Shanley
during the 1980s, when Shanley served as pastor at St. Jean Parish in
“There were many questions asked today, and I tried to answer them
as thoroughly, as completely and as honestly as I could,” McCormack
said as he left the closed deposition. He did not take questions from
McCormack, 66, was secretary of ministerial personnel for the Archdiocese
of Boston from 1984 to 1994 and handled sexual abuse complaints against
priests for Cardinal Bernard Law from 1992 to 1995.
Lawyer Roderick MacLeish confirmed a Boston Herald report Monday that
Sister Catherine Mulkerrin, McCormack’s top aide in Boston, had
written memos advising him to contact members of parishes where Shanley
and other accused priests had served.
“I know I sound like a broken record,” she said in one memo,
“but we need to put in church bulletins ‘It has come to our
attention a priest stationed here between 19XX and 19XX may have molested
children – please contact . . . .’ ”
MacLeish said the memos “were sent directly to Bishop McCormack
and nothing was done.” He also said he blames McCormack for allowing
Shanley to continue abusing children.
“Had Bishop McCormack taken the advice of Sister Mulkerrin, and
gone to the parishes where Paul Shanley and some of these priests had
served and spoken to them and informed the parishioners of what was going
on, I don’t think we would be here today,” he said.
The three alleged victims, all now in their mid-20s and from Newton,
Mass., have filed lawsuits in Massachusetts accusing Shanley of molesting
them starting when they were about 6 years old.
The men also claim that church officials, including McCormack, failed
to protect them from repeated sexual abuse by the now-retired Shanley,
who also faces criminal charges of raping one of the boys.
The parents of one alleged victim, Gregory Ford, accompanied MacLeish
to the deposition, which will continue June 17. Rodney and Paula Ford
choked back tears afterward.
According to Rodney Ford, McCormack said he treated molestation allegations
gingerly for fear of bad publicity.
“The reason why he didn’t report these things? Because he
stated he didn’t want to create a scandal. Well, this is a scandal
at its highest,” Rodney Ford said.
Both parents were bitter that their son and other alleged victims were
“In every incident of every alleged victim, he took the word of
the priest over the word of the victim, and when he found out after the
fact that the victim was telling the truth, he never took the time to
go back to these people and validate their claims,” Paula Ford said.
Law, McCormack and Bishop Thomas V. Daily, now of Brooklyn, N.Y., another
of Law’s former deputies, are scheduled to be questioned under oath
by MacLeish in the same lawsuits. Law will answer questions Wednesday
and Friday and Daily will be deposed June 13.
Church records indicate the Boston 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.
Nun urged parish alerts - Law aide ignored
warning on molester priests
Documents: N.H. bishop ignored molest warnings
By Tom Mashberg and Eric Convey
Boston (MA) Herald
June 4, 2002
A top aide to Bernard Cardinal Law was urged in 1994 to notify parishioners
that a dozen archdiocese priests had been pulled from churches for molesting
children - but chose to keep it a secret from those affected, sources
Despite pleas from an alarmed nun who served as his key deputy, Bishop
John B. McCormack, now of Manchester, N.H., actively hid from Bay State
churchgoers the fact that priests were yanked from parishes amid abuse
cases, church files to be released this week indicate.
Among those noted were Revs. Bernard J. Lane, Paul J. Mahan, Paul R. Shanley,
Ronald H. Paquin and Ernest E. Tourigney.
McCormack is scheduled to be deposed under oath today. He was Law's secretary
for ministerial personnel from 1984 to 1995.
"I know I sound like a broken record," the nun, Sister Catherine
E. Mulkerrin, says to McCormack in one memo, sources say, "but we
need to put in church bulletins `it has come to our attention a priest
stationed here between 19XX and 19XX may have molested children - please
In the case of the priests noted above, and many other accused clerics,
such announcements were never made.
The document is the first to show how ranking church officials were internally
warned of the magnitude and human toll of their abuse crisis a full decade
ago, yet labored to keep it hidden.
Law has claimed poor record-keeping led to the church's halting public
response to the clerical scandal.
Victims like the Ford family of Newton say they might have understood
the torment suffered by their son, Greg, far sooner had they known before
February that there were many allegations of abuse against Shanley in
the years before and after he supervised Greg as an altar boy in the 1980s.
"Had that information been shared with parishioners in Newton, Gregory
Ford would be nine years ahead in his recovery," said attorney Roderick
MacLeish Jr. of Greenberg Traurig, who will be in Manchester today questioning
MacLeish declined yesterday to comment on newly obtained archdiocese papers,
except to say his staff was redacting them and that they would not likely
be filed in court before Tuesday.
But speaking more generally, he said: "I cannot tell you how many
clients I have who led lives of suffering because they thought they were
the lone victims of a priest who is now known to have been a serial molester.
This is the price of covering up these crimes so long."
McCormack, 66, a licensed social worker, has been under siege for months
as internal church records show again and again how he coddled or reassigned
clergy molesters and also arranged for payments of their legal fees.
Critics also have said he often sought to trivialize any allegations against
priests from his 1960 graduating class at St. John's Seminary. That class
has a total of five alleged abusers- to date,- the Herald reported in
Several alleged clergy abuse victims have said they approached McCormack
during his time as personnel chief under Law and urged him to warn parishes
or other dioceses of molesters in their midst. Those plaintiffs say McCormack
promised to act but never followed through.
Peter Pollard of Massachusetts, a federal worker and former altar boy
under the Rev. George J. Rosenkranz, for example, says he met with McCormack
twice in 1988, when Rosenkranz was still a pastor at St. John's in Salem.
Pollard says he urged McCormack to confront Rosenkranz, who is the target
of sex-abuse lawsuits and whose name has been given to law enforcement.
Pollard says the bishop "told me Rosenkranz had denied the charges,
and that was apparently good enough for him."
"I believe McCormack was and is a major coverup artist," Pollard
said. "His manner toward me was clearly manipulative. It was clear
to me from the first moment there was going to be stone wall there."
Pollard complimented aide Sister Mulkerrin, however, describing her as
"a nurturing and caring person who really wanted something to be
done to put this to a halt."
Another alleged victim, David G. Coleman of Cape Cod, recalls approaching
McCormack in mid-1985 over another problem priest, the Rev. Richard T.
Coughlin, who pastored in Lynn before moving on to the Diocese of Orange,
Calif., in 1965 to found a boys' choir.
Coleman, who alleges Coughlin abused him the 1960s, says he was horrified
to learn in the 1980s that Coughlin was managing choirboys.
He says he met with McCormack and urged him to alert the Orange diocese
of his charges.
Coleman says he learned seven years later that Coughlin was still in ministry
in Orange and moved to alert officials there directly.
Soon after, Coughlin was ousted amid muliple reports of sex abuse, and
Orange diocese officials have told the Herald and police investigators
they never received word about Coughlin from McCormack.
"I thought (McCormack) would do the right thing and put (Coughlin)
out of circulation," Coleman said. "My anger is that he failed
to do the absolute minimum of what he ostensibly promised to do."
Coleman adds that he confronted McCormack about the matter in the mid-1990s
and that McCormack "at first claimed he'd never met with me, then
claimed that he left it to a subordinate to contact" church officials
Thousands of documents released since January make clear McCormack was
deeply involved in the reassignments of problem priests, including several
he knew from his days at St. John's Seminary in Brighton.
Those men include accused molesters Revs. Joseph E. Birmingham, Eugene
O'Sullivan, Lane and Shanley, all of whom graduated with McCormack in
1960. McCormack also spent four years in the seminary with three other
problem priests, Revs. John J. Geoghan, Rosenkranz and Tourigney.
McCormack, a Winthrop native, is a graduate of Boston Latin.
For the first seven years after his 1960 ordination, he served as an assistant
at St. James Church in Salem, where the pastor was Birmingham, a now-deceased
priest who is the subject of suits by more than 40 separate alleged victims.
In one accusation, a Birmingham plaintiff says McCormack watched Birmingham
with the boy in a residential part of the rectory. McCormack has denied
seeing the boy with Birmingham in an inappropriate place.
In earlier statements, McCormack admits having heard of allegations against
Birmingham as early as the 1970s. But in 1985 the clergy personnel office
he supervised promoted Birmingham to a position at a Gloucester parish.
On May 8, the Manchester Union-Leader, ran a front-page editorial urging
McCormack issued a response condemning abuse, and saying, "In the
past, the response of church leaders, including myself, to these horrific
acts is now revealed to have been flawed and inadequate."
But he refused to step down, noting that Pope John Paul II had appointed
him. "I will remain your servant and toil ceaselessly on your behalf
as bishop of Manchester," he wrote.
Lawyer set to hit cardinal with a ’93 letter about abuse
By Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
June 4, 2002
A lawyer set to depose Bernard Cardinal Law twice this week will confront
him with a 24-page legal memo mailed to Law's counsel in 1993 that detailed
the alleged abuses of 15 now-notorious priests and urged the church to
"establish explicit pastoral outreach" to their numerous likely
Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. said he wrote the memo, a copy of which
was made available yesterday, after laboriously piecing together the stories
of dozens of alleged victims of clerical molesters who sought him out
in the wake of the Rev. James R. Porter scandal.
"It is clear these cases together reflect a systemic pattern of abuse
in the (Boston) archdiocese and an alarming pattern of institutional negligence
on a disturbingly large scale," he wrote.
"Most church hierarchies defend the problem of clerical sexual abuse
by contending it represents the problem of a few errant priests who go
astray. That defense would certainly be clearly inapplicable in this case."
At least seven priests identified by MacLeish in his disturbing and detailed
letter were quickly pulled from parish duties - among them the Revs. Paul
R. Shanley, Bernard J. Lane, Paul J. Mahan, C. Melvin Surette and Ernest
But despite MacLeish's pleas, Law and his counsel, Wilson D. Rogers Jr.,
made no effort to alert parishioners that such men had been in their midst
Instead, MacLeish said yesterday, Law and his personnel aides - chief
among them Bishop John B. McCormack, now of Manchester, N.H. - hewed to
an overarching policy of secrecy, shuffling the named priests to new posts.
MacLeish also said at a news conference he alerted the Herald and the
Globe in the fall of 1993, and that both papers "ran one-day stories"
citing MacLeish's troubling revelations.
On Dec. 8, 1993, the Herald reported on Page 1 that Law "has suspended
several priests" amid "shocking new accusations that 20 priests
sexually abused" minors.
None of the names was released by the church at the time, even though
two of the priests - Shanley and Rev. Ronald H. Paquin - have since been
indicted amid the wave of revelations involving the Catholic Church.
"Those were times when lawyers like me and Mitchell Garabedian were
not too popular in a lot of circles," MacLeish said. "There
was enormous pressure to put the lid on this, and no media interest.
"The church demanded secrecy as a condition for moving the men out
of parishes," he said. "The priority for me and my clients became
getting these molesters away from churches with children."
MacLeish has made the absence of pastoral outreach by Law, McCormack and
other church figures a central issue in his current lawsuits. He is suing
on behalf of the Fords, a Newton family who only learned in February that
Shanley was known by the church to be a molester, yet who allege their
son, Greg, was his victim in the 1980s.
In 1992, MacLeish said, a national bishops' group ruled that communications
with parishioners ought to be frank and immediate if a clerical molester
In his 1993 letter, MacLeish wrote that ahead of any financial claims,
his "clients want to know whether any of these (priests) continue
to function in positions which give them access to youth."
Eric Convey contributed to this report.
Bishop: Church brass hid sex scandal
By Eric Convey and Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
June 4, 2002
Manchester, N.H. -- A bishop who served as Bernard Cardinal Law's top
personnel aide for a decade testified yesterday that Archdiocese of Boston
leaders kept a wave of clergy abuse allegations secret because telling
the faithful in the affected parishes might have created "a scandal."
Bishop John B. McCormack, 67, now head of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H.,
gave the explanation under oath in a deposition in the Rev. Paul R. Shanley
abuse case, witnesses to his questioning said.
"He said he didn't want to create `a scandal,' " said a visibly
incensed Rodney Ford, whose son, Greg, now 24, is suing Law, McCormack,
Shanley and the Catholic Church for numerous rapes alleged to have occurred
in the 1980s at St. Jean's Parish in Newton.
"Well, this is a scandal at its highest," Ford said. "It's
a disgrace what we have had to go through."
McCormack, emerging from 5 1/2 hours of questioning by attorney Roderick
MacLeish Jr., declined to discuss his testimony in detail or answer questions
"I'm glad I've had this opportunity to begin answering the questions
that people have, that lawyers have," said the embattled bishop,
who has been urged to resign by The Manchester Union-Leader and numerous
others. "I tried to answer them as completely, as thoroughly, as
honestly as I could. Thank you for your interest. God bless you."
The Herald reported yesterday that one document produced as a result of
subpoenas in the Shanley case indicates a high-ranking archdiocese nun
urged McCormack and others in 1994 that parishes be alerted after their
pastors were credibly accused of molestation.
Time and again, church documents show, the nun was overruled in favor
of secrecy. McCormack admitted yesterday he ignored the nun, Sister Catherine
E. Mulkerrin, preferring to stifle the flow of any information to churchgoers.
At one point yesterday, according to Paula Ford, Greg's mother, who was
also at the deposition, McCormack acknowledged that he usually took the
word of priests over parishioners when confronted with allegations of
"In every incident of every alleged victim, he took the word of the
priest over the word of the victim," she said. "When he found
out after the fact that the victim was telling the truth, he never took
the time to go back to these people and validate their claims.
"This was one of the most painful days of my life," she said
yesterday. "The truth is so painful."
MacLeish, who is to depose Law tomorrow and Friday, said the testimony
also shows that McCormack and his colleagues at the chancery in Brighton
ignored Mulkerrin's advice in violation of a 1992 directive from the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops stating that lay Catholics should be kept
informed of sexual abuse reports.
The conference is expected to issue new guidelines on the reporting of
abuse by clergy today.
"Had Bishop McCormack taken the advice of Sister Mulkerrin, and gone
to the parishes where Paul Shanley and some of these priests had served,
and spoken to them and informed the parishioners of what was going on,
I don't think we would be here today," he said.
MacLeish confirmed a Herald report yesterday that one of Mulkerrin's memos
read: "I know I sound like a broken record. But we need to put in
church bulletins `It has come to our attention a priest stationed here
between 19XX and 19XX may have molested children - please contact. . .
MacLeish said his recent deposition of the Rev. Charles J. Higgins, the
current archdiocese personnel chief, showed that Boston officials have
discussed abuse at just three of the 200 parishes known to have been served
by alleged abusers.
The tone of the session was cordial, said Peter Hutchins, a New Hampshire
lawyer who also attended because he has cases involving the church. Written
and audio-visual transcripts of the deposition could be made available
as soon as this afternoon, pending a ruling by Middlesex Superior Court
Judge Raymond J. Brassard.
Testimony also included discussions of priests who have not previously
been implicated in abuse cases, MacLeish said.
"This is a case about a pattern," he said. "There were
many, many priests who were mentioned today."
Some questions focused on how the archdiocese handled allegations involving
the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin, who is in jail awaiting trial for abuse. Others
pertained to a group of priests who attended St. John's Seminary in Brighton
with McCormack in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
They include Revs. Joseph Birmingham, John Geoghan, Bernard Lane and Shanley,
all of whom have faced multiple lawsuits.
MacLeish and his law partner, Robert A. Sherman, said soon-to-be released
documents include information that could strengthen cases against three
or four more priests. They said they planned to make files on 10 more
abusive priests public as soon as today.
MacLeish and Sherman stated in court last week that church lawyers were
blocking witnesses from cooperating during depositions. There were no
such problems with McCormack, MacLeish said.
The Fords said McCormack apologized to them over Shanley. Rodney Ford
said he did not take the bishop seriously. Paula Ford said she expects
future sessions to produce more troubling details about the church's handling
of the issue.
"I can see the writing on the wall," she said. "It's not
Bishop offers apology to parents of a Shanley accuser
By Matt Carroll
Boston (MA) Globe
June 4, 2002
Manchester, N.H. -- Bishop John B. McCormack apologized yesterday to
the parents of a Newton man who allegedly was abused by the Rev. Paul
R. Shanley, a onetime Newton pastor who was investigated by McCormack
for making past statements endorsing sex between men and boys.
Paula and Rodney Ford, the parents of Gregory Ford, said at a news conference
that McCormack spoke to them directly at his deposition here, delivering
an apology they described as "awkward" and unconvincing. "He
apologized and said he was sorry for what happened," said Paula Ford.
McCormack, who was a top deputy to Cardinal Bernard F. Law before being
named bishop of the Manchester Diocese three years ago, made a brief statement
after nearly six hours of sworn pretrial testimony in a lawsuit filed
by the Fords.
"I tried to answer as thoroughly, as completely, and as honestly
as I could," said McCormack, who declined to take questions from
Shanley was arrested last month, accused of raping Paul Busa during the
1980s, when Busa was a child attending religion classes at the now-closed
St. John the Evangelist Church in Newton. Shanley has pleaded not guilty
to the charges.
Roderick MacLeish Jr., the attorney for the Fords in their civil suit
against Shanley and Law, is today expected to release copies of approximately
1,000 pages of church documents concerning alleged sexual abuse by 11
priests. MacLeish gained access to the documents through the lawsuit in
an attempt to show a pattern of negligent supervision of priests accused
of sexual misconduct.
MacLeish is also scheduled to take pretrial testimony from Law in the
Ford case tomorrow and again on Friday.
Meanwhile, Bishop Robert J. Banks, another former Law deputy who is now
bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc., will be deposed today by attorney
Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing 86 alleged victims of convicted
pedophile and former priest John J. Geoghan.
Yesterday, Rodney Ford said he found it difficult to sit through McCormack's
"It was one of the most painful days of my life," said Ford,
adding that it was particularly difficult to hear McCormack say that in
some cases he never informed alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse that
he had discovered they were telling the truth.
McCormack wrote to Shanley about a letter from a New York woman who said
Shanley had advocated man-boy love, and asked the priest for an explanation.
The Fords also said that during his deposition McCormack said he did not
have access to documents in what the bishop called a "secret archive"
at the archdiocese.
A transcript of McCormack's depostion will be made public after a Middlesex
Superior Court judge holds a hearing to determine when the transcript
should be filed.
At the news conference with the Fords, MacLeish, who has repeatedly condemned
the archdiocese this year for hiding the extent of sexual abuse among
priests, also criticized a Globe report yesterday that said he and other
lawyers secretly settled claims against many priests during the 1990s,
all of them individual settlements that had the cumulative effect of masking
the extent of the problem.
"The last thing we were doing was keeping anything quiet," said
In an interview last night, MacLeish said he brought the extent of the
problem to the attention of Boston news organizations almost a decade
ago, but insisted that reporters were uninterested in pursuing the issue.
In December 1993, the Boston Herald and then the Globe quoted MacLeish
saying he had brought sexual abuse claims involving 20 priests and 28
alleged victims to the Boston Archdiocese.
In the articles, MacLeish praised the archdiocese for removing the unnamed
priests from service, saying the church had done a "commendable job"
of handling the issue.
In a letter to the archdiocese's lawyer less than three months earlier,
MacLeish raised complaints against 17 priests, and said that just two
of them may have had "potentially hundreds of other" victims.
"It is clear that these cases together reflect a systemic pattern
of abuse within the archdiocese and an alarming pattern of institutional
negligence on a disturbingly large scale," MacLeish wrote in the
Sept. 27, 1993, letter to Wilson Rogers Jr., the church's attorney.
The 24-page letter contains extensive details about the specifics of the
sexual abuse by the priests. Many of their names, and the allegations,
did not become public until this year.
MacLeish made the letter public yesterday, he said, because it shows that
he and his clients, in addition to seeking monetary settlements, also
wanted the archdiocese to ensure that the priests would no longer have
access to children. In the letter, MacLeish told Rogers he wanted to have
the claims mediated, which was done in private.
Asked last night why he did not make the letter public in 1993, or file
lawsuits to get the matter before the public, MacLeish said he did not
take those steps because of a need to protect the victims, and because
caps on liability for charities like the church made lawsuits less attractive
than negotiated settlements.
When the Globe reported on Jan. 31 this year that the Boston Archdiocese
had secretly settled claims involving more than 70 priests in the last
decade, MacLeish disclosed that his law firm accounted for more than 50
Philip Saviano, a victim of clergy sexual abuse who hired MacLeish to
represent him in the early 1990s, said the lawyer did not go far enough
a decade ago to expose the problem.
"What I'm saying is, whether [MacLeish] sees it this way or not,
he was part of the big web of secrecy," said Saviano, who is director
of the New England chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by
Priests. "Maybe he thinks he took steps to protect kids, but ultimately
I'd say he didn't go nearly as far as he should have."
MacLeish, who represented more than 100 victims of former priest James
R. Porter in the Fall River Diocese 1992, said the attention to that case
and the subsequent private claims he filed against the Boston Archdiocese
forced the church to create new policies and remove priests.
Church covered up 4 decades of abuse
By Tom Mashberg and Jack Sullivan
Boston (MA) Herald
June 5, 2002
Documents on 10 suspended clerics released yesterday put Bernard Cardinal
Law, three subordinates and even the late Richard Cardinal Cushing at
the center of a broad effort to hide the truth about clergy abuse from
parishioners, victims and the public.
The damaging new documents on the suspended clerics also reflect unfavorably
on the oversight of priests under the long-lionized Cushing as well as
Law's predecessor, the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros.
"What we now have before us is a four-decade-long pattern of protecting,
harboring and covering up for known child molesters," said attorney
Roderick MacLeish Jr., who released the files and is to depose Law today.
"To claim any more that these are isolated cases is absurd."
The Rev. Christopher R. Coyne, spokesman for Law, conceded yesterday that
the latest batch of documents was damaging to his besieged archdiocese.
"Once again, it was part of the protective culture of the church
of the time," Coyne said, "and forgetting . . . that the first
thing has to be the protection of children.
"It's going to take a long time to Recover the credibility we've
lost," he added.
Included in the files is a three-page handwritten 1993 Law memo in which
he details why he let Rev. Eugene M. O'Sullivan be shifted in 1985 to
a diocese in New Jersey - even though O'Sullivan had been convicted of
raping an Arlington altar boy just a year earlier.
"Boston was not acceptable because of possible scandal," Law
wrote in the 1993 memo, which he apparently prepared after the Associated
Press and other news media contacted the chancery about O'Sullivan's criminal
past. "While assignment of a priest under these circumstances is
arguable, our present policy does not permit it."
Nonetheless, after O'Sullivan was bounced from Metuchen, N.J., because
of his Bay State convictions, he was allowed by Law to wear his clerical
collar for 17 more years - and even served formally at Carney Hospital
The lengths to which Law himself went to assure new priestly duties for
O'Sullivan and two other longtime problem pastors - the Revs. Ernest E.
Tourigney and Daniel M. Graham - are just some of the troubling personnel
moves outlined in the files, obtained by MacLeish as part a pretrial investigation
of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.
Other revelations included in the long-hidden files are these:
- Embattled Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., denied over
and over to parishioners that Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham was a threat to
molest minors, even though Birmingham's personnel file showed evidence
of abuse starting under Cushing in 1964.
In April 1987, in his capacity as Law's secretary for ministerial personnel,
McCormack reviewed an emotional inquiry about Birmingham from a male parishioner
at St. Ann's Church in Gloucester.
The parishioner, whose son, then 13, was an altar boy under Birmingham,
said he learned that Birmingham had been removed from his parish for molesting
children, and that the priest had soon after fallen into "poor health."
Because Birmingham had also preached about AIDS, and was rumored to have
engaged in risky sexual practices, the parishioner wrote: "I am concerned
about the AIDS situation, and about a priest possibly molesting my son."
He asked Law for an explanation.
In answer, McCormack wrote that Law had received the letter and asked
McCormack to investigate. McCormack then wrote: "I have contacted
Father Birmingham and . . . he assured me there is absolutely no factual
basis for your concern regarding your son and him. . . . I feel he would
tell me the truth . . . in this matter."
Birmingham died wasting away from cancer in 1989. Some 40 men have come
forward in recent months to file lawsuits against him for abuse, and church
files quote him admitting several times under questioning to "sexual
Gary Bergeron of Lowell, a Birmingham accuser, said yesterday: "Page
after page shows they all knew he was a molester a full decade before
he abused me and my brother, but did nothing. It's incredible to see how
these `men of God' let this go on for so long."
- The files mark the first clear indications Cushing engaged in coverups.
The Herald reported last month that Medeiros was deeply implicated in
efforts to hide the depradations of defrocked and jailed pedophile James
In a letter dated Oct. 1, 1964, a Marshfield couple wrote to Cushing detailing
the sexual abuse of their 12-year-old son by O'Sullivan at St. Ann's Church
In the letter, the couple told Cushing that O'Sullivan had fondled their
son, an altar boy, several times that summer. They also informed Cushing
of at least four other altar boys who spoke of being sexually abused by
The couple said they had reported the incidents to the church pastor,
who said he would relay their concerns to the archdiocese. The couple
later found out the pastor had not followed through. That is when they
wrote to Cushing.
"We are taking the liberty of reporting directly to you . . . trusting
that you in your wisdom will know best how best to handle the matter,"
the couple wrote Cushing.
Shortly after, O'Sullivan was transferred to Our Lady's Parish in Waltham.
That same year, similar accusations were levied, and he was again transferred,
next to Point of Pines Church in Revere.
An unsigned memo from 1964 acknowledges allegations against O'Sullivan
and noted a three-week vacation was arranged beginning June 16, 1964,
until July 6, 1964.
"Informed (O'Sullivan) that we would transfer him, effective approx
July 9," the note states.
And despite Law's insistence in his 1993 memo there were "no previous
reports" of accusations on O'Sullivan, an internal memo from "T.J.D."
to Bishop Alfred Hughes confirmed the O'Sullivan problem.
"As far as I can see there is no evidence of treatment following
the events of 1964, just transferred etc. . . .," the memo states.
- Regarding Father Graham, removed in February from St. Joseph's in Quincy,
the papers show he was assigned a "mediator" in 1988 by Bishop
Robert J. Banks, now of Green Bay, Wis., a Law aide who was deposed yesterday
for his role in the Boston scandal.
The mediator was Shanley, now awaiting trial on three counts of child
rape, who acted as middle-man between Graham and the accuser. Shanley
referred Graham to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), a program for
sexual addictions loosely based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
"With Fr. Paul Shanley's help I have discovered a helpful support
group, S.L.A.A.," Graham wrote to his victim. "Meetings are
helpful to keep ones sexuality in check."
Graham was cleared by church officials to resume parish ministry, but
in 1992 was charged once again with abusing minors. In a 1996 letter to
Graham, Law offered him a dispensation from Law's 1993 rules governing
molester priests so that he could resume parish work.
- The documents also further the evidence that Medeiros allowed pedophile
priests to remain in the ministry and transferred rather than disciplined
In 1973, Medeiros approved the request of Rev. Ernest E. Tourigney to
take a post as student chaplain at Catholic University in Washington.
Medeiros knew Tourigney had been transferred to St. Mary's in Holliston
after accusations of molestation at Immaculate Conception Church in Weymouth.
In his letter to Medeiros requesting the post, Tourigney said his stay
at St. Mary's helped "alleviate a long-term difficult situation with
the parish, which I have tried to do to the best of my ability."
"During my years as a priest, I have worked with the youth both on
a parish and deanery level," he wrote. "It is the type of work
I enjoy doing the most, find most rewarding and feel most qualified in
doing." The records indicate there were at least eight victims who
accused Tourigney of sexually assaulting them. Still, McCormack and Law
gave him new slots.
- One of the more sordid tales to emerge from the papers involves accused
predatory priest Richard O. Matte. A man alleges he was abused by Matte
after he went to the cleric about being sexually abused by another priest
at various places, including drug dealers' houses in the early-1980s.
According to a letter to church lawyers from Robert A. Sherman, the victim's
attorney and MacLeish's partner, the then-14-year-old boy was the victim
of "violent sexual abuse" by the Rev. Richard Buntel from 1979
to 1985. Both Buntel and Matte were assigned to St. Joseph's Church in
The victim claimed Buntel befriended him and introduced him to alcohol
and marijuana,later feeding him cocaine and exposing him to "violent
"On one occasion, two drug dealers associated with Fr. Buntel urged
Fr. Buntel to make a pornographic film of him sexually assaulting (the
victim)," Sherman wrote. "(The victim) does not know if this
film was ever made."
Memos reveal trail of charges
By Sacha Pfeiffer
Boston (MA) Globe
June 5, 2002
The departure was sudden, but if parishioners asked what had become of
their parish priest, church officials had a tidy explanation ready: The
Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham had been "working too hard" and "needed
a rest," according to a three-page, handwritten Nov. 4, 1964, memo
by a high-ranking Chancery official.
In fact, Birmingham had been hastily transferred from Our Lady of Fatima
Church in Sudbury to St. James Church in Salem after two fathers and their
sons reported the young priest had repeatedly fondled the boys.
It's likely, however, that many Sudbury parishioners knew the truth anyway.
The pastor there told Chancery officials that knowledge of Birmingham's
habit of groping altar boys was so "widespread" that some children
refused to attend altar-boy meetings and religious education classes.
Forced to face two of his young accusers at a meeting at the Chancery,
Birmingham first denied the accusations, then claimed to have no memory
of the incidents, and finally apologized for the "impropriety."
He was ordered to see a Catholic psychiatrist "to get to the root
of this problem," although it is unclear whether he followed through
with the directive. He was placed on sick leave and later reassigned to
Salem, where his abusive behavior continued, according to a fellow priest
who advised church officials in 1970 that Birmingham be transferred again.
The disclosures about the archdiocese's extensive knowledge of Birmingham's
alleged history of abuse were included among 1,000 pages of church documents
released yesterday in connection with a lawsuit filed against the Rev.
Paul R. Shanley.
Despite Birmingham's troubled history, he was moved from Salem to another
parish in Lowell, to one in Brighton, to Gloucester, and to Lexington.
By the time he died in 1989, he had served in a half-dozen parishes in
the archdiocese, leaving dozens of accusations.
Church files show that his alleged abuses were known to Cardinal Bernard
F. Law and several of his top deputies, including now-Bishop John B. McCormack
of Manchester, N.H., who was one of Birmingham's seminary classmates,
and now-Bishop Robert J. Banks of Green Bay, Wis.
In McCormack's case, he wrote on Law's behalf to assure a parishioner
at St. Ann's in Gloucester in April 1987 that there was "no factual
basis" to his concern that his son may have been molested by Birmingham
- even though McCormack had known since at least 1970 of Birmingham's
alleged abuses. "From my knowledge of Father Birmingham and my relationship
with him, I feel he would tell me the truth and I believe he is speaking
the truth in this matter," McCormack wrote to the parishioner, who
had written Law to inquire whether the Birmingham who was removed from
Gloucester several months earlier was the same Birmingham who had been
removed from Sudbury in the 1960s for molesting boys.
"I see no need of your raising this question with your son,"
Two months earlier, Banks wrote that Birmingham had "admitted there
had been some difficulty" when confronted with a recent abuse complaint.
"He agreed it would be helpful to resign from the parish, and to
seek assessment and therapy," Banks added.
Birmingham's file indicates he was sent the same year to the Institute
of Living, a Hartford treatment center for sexually abusive priests. After
that, he served as parochial vicar at St. Brigid in Lexington from 1987
until shortly before his death in 1989.
After Birmingham's death, complaints continued to stream in to the archdiocese,
including one by a man who received a $60,000 settlement from the archdiocese
for abuse he suffered at Birmingham's hands when he was a high school
student in the 1960s.
Inaction followed charges of abuse
By Thomas Farragher and Matt Carroll
Boston (MA) Globe
June 5, 2002
Senior archdiocesan officials in Boston reacted to charges that priests
were abusing children with a bureaucratic nonchalance in the years before
the current scandal broke, newly released documents show.
In 1987, when Bishop Robert J. Banks learned of a mother's complaints
that the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham had repeatedly molested her 15-year-old
son, Banks's response did not sound alarm bells, according to a memo among
nearly 1,000 new pages of church documents released yesterday.
"I spoke to Joe Birmingham," the memo reads. "He admitted
there had been some difficulty. He agreed it would be helpful to resign
from the parish and to seek assessment and therapy."
Banks, as a senior deputy to Cardinal Bernard F. Law, was also involved
in the 1985 transfer of the Rev. Eugene M. O'Sullivan to the Metuchen,
N.J., diocese after his guilty plea to a rape charge in Middlesex County.
Law verbally arranged the transfer after consulting Bishop (now Cardinal)
Theodore E. McCarrick. But the documents include a 1984 letter from Banks
noting that accusations of sexual misconduct against O'Sullivan dated
from "a couple of years" after his 1960 ordination.
When Bishop John B. McCormack, then a top deputy to Law, was asked to
look into another reported attack by Birmingham in 1987, he went right
to the source.
"[Father Birmingham] assured me there is absolutely no factual basis
to your concern regarding your son and him," McCormack wrote to the
father of an alleged victim. McCormack also vouched for Birmingham. Earlier
this year, the Globe reported that parents in Salem went to McCormack
with abuse complaints about Birmingham more than three decades ago.
McCormack also recommended that the case of the Rev. Bernard J. Lane not
be sent to the archdiocesan review board, which heard allegations of sexual
abuse against priests, even though Lane had admitted he had inappropriate
contact with a young boy.
McCormack's recommendation raised the concern of Bishop Alfred C. Hughes,
who also knew about Lane's history.
A memo written by "TJD" - apparently the Rev. Thomas J. Daly
- in February 1992 to Hughes mentions that Lane had "an incident
of rather lewd conduct" in 1978.
McCormack on March 15, 1993, wrote Hughes in a memo that the boy who made
the charges was vindictive and not credible. He wrote in a follow-up memo
on May 3:
"I recommend the matter not be pursued. If you would like this presented
to the Sexual Misconduct Review Board, I would do so. However, I do not
In the upper righthand corner of the memo, Hughes appends this handwritten
comment: "Why do you recommend not going before the board?"
As the new records were being released yesterday, Banks was being questioned
under oath as two alleged victims of pedophile priest John J. Geoghan,
Mark Keane, and Patrick McSorley, attended.
Banks was the archdiocesan administrator who allowed Geoghan to be returned
to St. Julia's Church in Weston in 1989 after treatment despite additional
allegations of sexual abuse against children.
They said Banks, now bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., appeared
nervous, frightened, and at times, evasive under questioning by the victims'
attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.
"It depresses me that it had to come to this in order to get a bishop
to admit that he made a mistake," McSorley said. "He actually
did say he made a mistake in putting Geoghan in a different parish. And
at least that's a little bit of honesty. It's more than we've gotten before."
Walter V. Robinson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Complaints didn’t dim bishop’s faith in priests
Papers shed light on McCormack’s role
By Annmarie Timmins and Amy McConnell
Concord (NH) Monitor
June 6, 2002
Bishop John McCormack has said little about his work handling allegations
of clergy sexual abuse for the Archdiocese of Boston other than that he
mishandled some of the cases. Nearly 1,000 pages of internal church documents
involving 10 accused priests released Tuesday provide a better understanding
of his role.
McCormack dealt with dozens of difficult allegations with a mixed record,
moving priests quickly out of their assignments but showing leniency for
some even as the accusations mounted. The files aren't complete, however,
and it is unclear how the church ultimately resolved each case.
McCormack declined to comment for this story through his spokesman, Pat
McGee, saying he had not looked at the documents in nearly a decade.
In most cases, McCormack responded to allegations by questioning the priest,
asking his staff to question the alleged victims and then immediately
sending the priest for treatment to one of two centers the archdiocese
The exception was the case of Father Ernest Tourigney, where the alleged
victims complained of McCormack's dallying response.
It is also clear that during treatment and after, McCormack was unfailingly
supportive of the accused priests, even deciding against trying to remove
one because he didn't want to upset him. In another case, he concluded
one parent's concerns were unfounded simply because McCormack knew the
accused priest and believed his denials.
Here is a closer look at what the files in six of the cases show about
Last month, McCormack said publicly that he'd mishandled cases of sexual
abuse allegations during his time in the archdiocese. Among those, he
said, was the case of Joseph Birmingham.
The files show that the church had been receiving complaints of sexual
misconduct against Birmingham since 1964. One came from a priest. In 1987,
according to the church records, Birmingham resigned for health reasons
and went to therapy.
Two months later, Cardinal Bernard Law asked McCormack to respond to a
parent who had heard rumors of Birmingham's misconduct and was worried
about his own son, who had been an altar boy for Birmingham.
McCormack knew Birmingham well. The two had been in a seminary together
and had served together at a Salem, Mass., parish. McCormack had also
heard allegations before.
In April 1987, McCormack followed up on Law's request and asked Birmingham
about the allegations. He wrote back to the parent.
"He assured me there is no factual basis to your concern regarding
your son and him," McCormack wrote. "From my knowledge of Father
Birmingham and my relationship with him, I feel he would tell me the truth
and I believe he is speaking the truth in this matter."
McCormack discouraged the man from raising the issue with his son, but
he offered the number of the church's counselors if the father decided
Birmingham died in 1989. The archdiocese, McCormack in particular, continued
to receive complaints of sexual misconduct against him. Today, nearly
40 men have accused him of abuse.
A lawyer for one victim has accused McCormack of covering up the abuse
and helping transfer Birmingham around as the allegations mounted. McCormack
has said he had no role in assigning or moving priests while working in
In 1981, Father Ronald Paquin crashed his car on Interstate 93 in Tilton
after spending a weekend with four teenage boys in a Bethlehem cabin.
One boy died.
The police report concluded that Paquin had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Two months ago, the parents who lost their son filed a wrongful death
suit against the church claiming Paquin fell asleep because he'd been
up the previous night drinking and having sex with one or more of the
There is almost no mention of the accident in the church files released
this week. The files do contain notes and memos on nearly 20 allegations
that came to the archdiocese against Paquin between 1990 and 2000.
At least eight of those victims came forward when McCormack worked in
Boston. Paquin admitted some of the abuse, acknowledged his sexual attraction
to boys and showed no empathy for his victims, according to internal church
McCormack's response to the allegations was to send Paquin for treatment,
assign him a mentor and restrict his ministry so he wasn't serving with
"I told (Paquin) that it was important for him to go to (treatment)
because of the civil liabilities of the archdiocese and our moral obligations
to the parishioners involved," McCormack wrote in Paquin's file in
Still, complaints continued to come to McCormack that Paquin was spending
time alone with boys. McCormack asked Paquin about the allegations and
recommended continued treatment and restricted ministry.
"I think there is a serious concern how he has expressed his care
and concern for young boys," McCormack wrote in Paquin's file in
September 1990. "It seems to be from mixed motives. It seems that
he does have a true concern for them, but also he has his own needs of
affection which get expressed in unhealthy ways."
McCormack put Paquin on sick leave and sent him to Maryland for treatment.
"I told him the archdiocese wants to help him in every way."
McCormack also met with concerned parishioners from Paquin's church. He
took their concerns to Paquin and asked Paquin how he planned to change
his ways. He noted Paquin's response, including a plan to stop allowing
boys to sleep in his bed.
Six months later, Paquin was nearing the end of his treatment in Maryland,
and McCormack was preparing to put Paquin back to work, perhaps doing
hospital or nursing home ministry.
"We agreed that he is not free to work with young people," McCormack
wrote, "even though there is very little, if any, concern about his
acting out impulsively."
McCormack assigned Paquin to live in a Massachusetts parish and found
him work at a hospital. Meanwhile, allegations about Paquin's past abuse
and current behavior came to the archdiocese. A priest, among others,
reported that Paquin was visiting boys from his former parish.
In March 1994, an aide asked McCormack whether the archdiocese could do
more than simply offer counseling to the victims who called. Internal
church documents show that officials believed it was likely there were
more victims than had come forward.
"Should we be making some kind of contact with any place Ron Paquin
has been stationed?" Father John Dooher wrote.
There is no indication in the church documents that McCormack responded
or that the archdiocese pursued that recommendation.
Three months later, in June 1994, McCormack and his review board, which
helped him decide the fate of accused priests, concluded that Paquin should
be banned from public ministry and suggested that Paquin ask to be removed
from the priesthood.
Paquin refused, and neither McCormack nor the review board insisted. In
the next six years, after McCormack had left the archdiocese, the review
board urged Paquin to remove himself from the priesthood three more times.
He refused each request.
By 2000, the last date noted in the church records released, the archdiocese
had received 20 complaints against Paquin.
The case of Father John Hanlon is unlike the others in that it is the
only one that was investigated by the police. The records do not say how
the police became involved, but by the time McCormack entered the picture
in August 1993, Hanlon was headed to a criminal trial.
McCormack's name appears on just one memo in the case. In August 1993,
he summarized the allegations against Hanlon for the church's personnel
files and noted that he asked fellow priests to help him reach the alleged
"We want to be of help to the young man as well as to take whatever
steps need to be taken to address this matter," McCormack wrote.
Hanlon was convicted in a Massachusetts court in March 1994 of two charges
of rape and two charges of assault with intent to rape. He was sentenced
to three consecutive life sentences.
McCormack took five allegations of sexual misconduct to Father Paul Mahan
in August 1993 and listened as Mahan said he was innocent. Still, McCormack
told Mahan he'd have to be assessed and go on administrative leave.
Law asked McCormack to follow up on the suggestion of one victim's parent
that the church do more to support parents. The parent suggested a support
group just for parents of victims.
"It is my hope that we can gather in church and through prayer and
worship have a further opportunity to ask God to be with us in these difficult
days," Law wrote to the parent.
The file does not indicate whether McCormack followed up.
In October 1994, nearly a year after McCormack first approached Mahan,
he received a report from another priest who was concerned that Mahan
had his young nephew and two young friends living with him in his Massachusetts
McCormack told Mahan that had to end. But McCormack did not initially
ask the boys whether they had been harmed. McCormack, who had a master's
degree in social work by this time, thought to do so after a doctor suggested
An unsigned memo in the file shows that church officials contacted a state
social worker to help them interview the boys and discussed the possibility
of reporting any findings to the state.
When McCormack was told in June 1992 that Father Ernest Tourigney needed
six months of psychiatric treatment, the priest had allegedly molested
at least three boys - one of them for eight years - in several Massachusetts
parishes, according to church documents.
In late June, Law and McCormack met with several alleged victims, who
later told McCormack the archdiocese was operating in a "circle the
wagons" mentality. At that meeting, Law and McCormack told victims
that Tourigney would not return to parish work, according to their letter.
But the archdiocesan response was too slow and meager for a victim named
James, who hired a lawyer.
"However, even though Fr. Tourigney was allowed to remain a Priest,
his behavior was not addressed and my client was totally ignored,"
wrote the lawyer. "He was not comforted or offered counseling. He
was neglected and made to believe that the Church had no compassion or
desire to confront Fr. Tourigney and remove him from contact with Parishioners."
Two months later - and eight months after their initial meeting with Law
and McCormack - Tourigney's victims still weren't satisfied by the archdiocese's
actions. McCormack, they said, had promised the matter would be resolved
in a meeting with Tourigney just after the holidays.
"We are into February, and while he vacations on the Cape, the Archdiocese
is rife with indecision," said their letter of February 1993. "On
a recent trip to Boston, I and (name blocked out) phoned your office.
I left an urgent message of my itinerary, stated when I would be leaving,
and asked to hear from you. It is now February 20, 1993 and neither I
nor (name blocked out) have heard a word from you."
More than a month later, McCormack tried to set up a meeting between Law
and one of the victims. The victim, McCormack said, wanted to voice his
concerns about how the archdiocese handled priests who had admitted to
"You may recall that after (Tourigney) was assessed at Southdown
for these matters he was returned to parish ministry," McCormack
wrote in March 1993. "Mr. (name blocked out) cannot get over this
and wants to make sure that you and I and anyone who was responsible realizes
that this should not happen again. I think it might be helpful in his
healing process to meet with you for a half hour some time with me."
By May 1993, Tourigney had been placed on administrative leave. But that's
not all his victims wanted of the archdiocese. The archdiocese needed
to begin handling sexual abuse by priests as a criminal matter and creating
investigative teams to find other abused children, they wrote to McCormack
in August 1993.
The church's reluctance to do so appeared to be based on "potential
negative political ramifications," they stated.
By the next spring, archdiocesan officials had become skeptical that their
containment and supervision of Tourigney had reformed his urges. Tourigney,
one official advised McCormack, should be asked to leave the priesthood
for private life - even though he might pose a risk to the public.
"Then he would be free to accept such offers as he sees fit,"
the official wrote in May 1994. "It is not a happy solution, because
it leaves him as a potential danger to young men, but perhaps the seriousness
of the invitation might get him to think of more effective ways to deal
with his problem."
No records indicate whether Tourigney left the priesthood or where he
In 1992, McCormack summarized three allegations of sexual misconduct against
Father Richard Matte - one of which came from a concerned priest - and
admitted he was unsure how to proceed.
Matte denied the accusations but volunteered that he'd been falsely accused
years before. The case had never been resolved, but Matte said he had
gone for treatment.
"I am not sure what side to support in the understanding of Father
Matte's behavior," McCormack wrote in Matte's personnel file. "Part
of me sees him as being very indiscreet. He also speaks about not remembering
things. Then I wonder whether he is denying."
McCormack sent Matte to a Maryland treatment center for an assessment.
The file does not include the center's response, but by the time an additional
allegation came to McCormack's office in April 1993, Matte was at a Canadian
treatment center the church used often.
In a letter to Matte, McCormack relayed the new allegations and offered
support. "I am sure this report will be upsetting to you, Dick,"
he wrote. "If there is something I can do to help, Dick, let me know.
You are in my prayers."
McCormack continued to offer support, even deciding against asking Matte
to remove himself from the priesthood for fear he was already too emotionally
unstable. At the time, McCormack knew Matte had told doctors the accusations
weren't entirely untrue, according to the records.
McCormack and his review board decided in November 1993 that Matte should
find a counselor and work outside of public ministry. They would not put
him in a parish or in a role where he'd be near adolescent males.
In May 1994, McCormack took two more allegations to Matte and noted in
the file that Matte was devastated. Again he was supportive.
Matte didn't like the place McCormack had found for him, so McCormack
offered to keep looking. "He has to park his car on the street,"
McCormack wrote. "He is fearful it could be stolen or damaged."
Matte's file ends with an April 1998 memo detailing another complaint
from a man who said Matte's abuse had made it impossible to have a close
relationship with his son and wife.
"He is . . . afraid that maybe he can never change, even though he
wants to," wrote the nun who spoke with him.
McCormack’s deposition order released
By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
June 7, 2002
Cambridge, Mass. -- A superior court judge ruled transcripts of New Hampshire
Bishop John McCormack’s deposition in a civil lawsuit should be
made public, but gave the bishop’s attorney a day to appeal.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond Brassard said McCormack’s
first day of testimony Monday was a matter of great public interest and
should be released.
He also said the time gap between McCormack’s first day of deposition
and his second – which was scheduled for June 17 – was too
long to justify waiting until McCormack’s deposition was completed
to release a transcript.
Brassard gave McCormack’s attorney Timothy O’Neill until
4 p.m. today to appeal. The documents could not be released until after
Outside court, O’Neill said he was not sure if he would appeal.
He did say, however, that he thinks the case is being tried in the court
of public opinion, not in a court of law.
O’Neill and Wilson Rogers Jr., an attorney for the Boston Archdiocese,
questioned whether Brassard should even issue a ruling after an order
earlier Thursday that put all civil cases of clergy sexual abuse under
one judge, Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney.
“We’re looking for consistent rulings from the bench,”
The order by Superior Court Chief Justice Suzanne DelVecchio kept all
pending motions in the cases in front of their current judges.
Brassard said he had jurisdiction because of his earlier ruling that
a deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law should be released in the Rev. Paul
Brassard said he wanted to treat equally all church officials who were
His ruling in Law’s case contradicted Sweeney, who chided lawyers
in Suffolk Superior Court after a transcript and videotape of Law’s
deposition in the case of defrocked priest John Geoghan was immediately
Sweeney said the release was a major breach of court rules.
The decision to put Sweeney in charge of all civil cases was hailed by
attorney Jeffrey Newman, who was one of three lawyers who filed a motion
seeking the consolidation.
Sweeney has spent the last year overseeing nearly 90 lawsuits against
Geoghan, who is serving a 9- to 10-year sentence after being convicted
Newman, who has 48 lawsuits pending against the church and church officials,
said the decision will streamline the process and making all rulings on
Judge delays public release of Law depositions
By Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer
Boston (MA) Globe
June 8, 2002
After a legal showdown involving more than a dozen lawyers for the Catholic
Church, alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse, and the news media, Appeals
Court Judge Gordon L. Doerfer yesterday delayed the public release of
written transcripts and videotapes of depositions given by Cardinal Bernard
F. Law and Manchester, N.H., Bishop John B. McCormack.
Law's personal attorney, J. Owen Todd, argued that the piecemeal release
of the cardinal's pre-trial testimony - before the complete transcripts
are reviewed for potential errors - could impair Law's right to a fair
But Robert Sherman, an attorney for alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R.
Shanley, said the public has a right to evaluate each day of testimony
by church officials. He accused lawyers for Law and the archdiocese of
"trying to have it both ways" by speaking publicly about Law's
testimony while opposing the quick release of transcripts of his remarks.
At the close of Doerfer's afternoon hearing - scheduled with little notice
after last-minute appeals by attorneys for Law, McCormack, and the Boston
Archdiocese - Doerfer said he would reach a decision on the release of
testimony by Law and McCormack early next week. The hearing was held just
hours after Law completed a morning session of pretrial testimony in the
Shanley cases, and just hours before the scheduled release of his and
McCormack's partial depositions.
The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese who attended
the deposition, declined to discuss details of the cardinal's testimony
but said that the questions posed to Law covered the years from 1977 through
1984, when he was named archbishop of Boston, and that Law said he accepted
responsibility for some decisions made by subordinates.
"When asked, he did respond by saying, `Ultimately, I was the one
who made the decision,' " Coyne said.
But Paula and Rodney Ford, parents of an alleged Shanley victim who also
attended the deposition, said they were distressed by what Law had to
"He kept reverting to poor record-keeping again," Paula Ford
said. "The fact of the matter is that there was a secret file and
it appears to us, after having listened to him for three hours, that the
file was kept secret only from themselves. The records were there. They
chose not to read them."
Rodney Ford said Law was asked if, when he promoted Shanley to pastor,
it would have been common sense for him to check the Shanley file for
potentially damaging information. "His answer: No, it was not common
sense to check the files."
Doerfer could refer the matter to a full panel of the Appeals Court. And
a decision by him to release the pretrial testimony of church officials
before it is completed could be appealed to the state Supreme Judicial
Jeffrey A. Newman, another attorney for alleged Shanley victims, said
he favors the quick release of pretrial testimony from church officials
but praised Doerfer's decision to delay a ruling until next week. "It's
important for the long run that he try and carefully balance the interests
of the litigants with the public's right to know," Newman said.
The issue of whether pretrial testimony can be released before an entire
deposition is complete comes after contradictory rulings on the matter
from two Superior Court judges.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney, ruling in cases filed
by alleged victims of former priest John J. Geoghan, has said Law's pretrial
testimony cannot be made public until an entire deposition is complete
and Law is given 30 days to review a transcript for any potential errors.
Sweeney also ruled that a videotape of Law's testimony will not be made
public unless Law is unavailable for trial.
By contrast, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond J. Brassard, ruling
in cases filed by alleged victims of Shanley, said written transcripts
and videotapes of pretrial testimony by Law and McCormack could be made
public once they are certified by court reporters. It was Brassard's rulings
that were appealed yesterday.
Meanwhile, an attorney said yesterday he will file a lawsuit next week
on behalf of a woman who alleges that she was sexually abused from 1972
to 1974 by two priests who were overseen by Law when Law was vicar general
of the Jackson, Miss., diocese.
Anthony R. Simon, an attorney for the woman, whose name has not been made
public, said she was 12 when the alleged abuse began at St. Peter's parish
in Jackson, where the two priests - the Revs. George L. Broussard and
Thomas Boyce - were stationed together for a time.
Reached this week, Broussard, 67, who is no longer a priest and lives
in Houma, La., at first flatly denied the complaints, but later said,
"I'm neither affirming nor denying the allegations." Boyce,
who remains a priest and is assigned to St. Mary's parish in Batesville,
Miss., is on vacation and did not return a call for comment. The Jackson
diocese also did not return a call for comment.
According to Simon, the suit will charge that Law knew about Broussard's
alleged abuse but failed to take action and "knew or should have
known" about alleged abuse by Boyce. Named as defendants will be
Broussard, Boyce, Law, and the Jackson diocese, he said.
Simon said he represents additional people who allege they were abused
by Broussard and Boyce.
One of them is Kenneth P. Morrison, who says he was molested by Broussard
in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Morrison also alleges that Broussard
continued to abuse him even after his father told Law that Morrison's
brothers were being molested.
In a deposition Wednesday, Law acknowledged that he was alerted to Broussard's
alleged abuse, according to the parents of an alleged Shanley victim who
attended the deposition.