Msgr. James M. Burns
File of Rev. James M. Burns

The Diocese of Gallup's file on convicted sex offender Rev. James M. Burns has been released to the public, in compliance with the nonmonetary terms of the 2007 settlement in Los Angeles. On this webpage page, we provide searchable PDFs of the file in several formats for easier download. The original released file was very large and not searchable.

We also provide samples of individual documents in the file, which contains accounts of abuse and extensive materials from the Servants of the Paraclete, who treated Burns at their facility in New Mexico. See Disastrous Legacy of Abuse: Gallup Priest's Personnel File Released, by Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, Gallup Independent, December 7, 2013; and Priest's File Details Years of Allegations, by Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, Gallup Independent, December 9, 2013

The Burns file was heavily redacted in its released version – 195 pages of the total 555 pages (over 35 percent) were entirely blacked out, and there were considerable redactions on many other pages as well. Nine pages were removed before the initial posting from the original 562-page file. The extent of the redactions may be gathered from these thumbnails of pages 1-78:

sample redactions

In order to facilitate the use and printing of the file, we have removed the pages that were entirely blacked out from the working copies provided below. But we have also supplied a searchable PDF of the entire file, including the blacked-out pages, and at the bottom of this page, we show additional thumbnails, so that the highly aggressive nature of the redactions may be understood. Such extensive redactions are unique in the Los Angeles file release, and it is a matter of serious concern whether the redactions are in keeping with the settlement agreement, and what information they conceal.

This heavily redacted file, in which 195 pages are completely redacted, and another nine pages are removed entirely, does not contain Burns' assignment record – the most basic document in any priest's file, and a crucial resource for assessing Gallup's transfer practice in this case. We have researched Burns' assignment history and provide our own assignment history for him.

In addition to the 195 whole-page redactions, many other pages are redacted, and yet three survivors names were mistakenly left unredacted. We have redacted those names.

Complete working copy of the Burns file, containing all pages not entirely redacted [Caution: 144 megabyte file]
• Working copy of the file, in parts for easier download:
      • Part 1 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00064)
      • Part 2 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00116)
      • Part 3 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00190)
      • Part 4 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00211)
      • Part 5 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00236)
      • Part 6 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00287)
      • Part 7 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00300)
      • Part 8 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00333)
      • Part 9 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00357)
      • Part 10 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00389)
      • Part 11 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00426)
      • Part 12 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00446)
      • Part 13 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00480)
      • Part 14 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00523)
      • Part 15 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00543)
      • Part 16 (through Bates DOG.BURNS.00564)
Released file including 195 entirely redacted pages, made searchable and optimized for download [Caution: 152 megabyte file]
• Original source of the file

Selected Documents

Letter from seminary rector to Bishop Espelage, concerned that Burns seems to "lack high ideals" (2/4/59) DOG.BURNS.00552

Handwritten notes about Burns transfers, "rumors," and O'Keefe (1989)  DOG.BURNS.00107-00109

Confidential report from priest to Bishop Pelotte about Burns abuse in 1974 (3/18/89)  DOG.BURNS.00125-00127

Letter to Pelotte from Burns survivor recounting abuse in 1971 at age 12 (9/4/89)  DOG.BURNS.00113-00115

Handwritten notes about problems, a motel, a young man, and advising "not to speak to B" (9/12/89)  DOG.BURNS.00110

Handwritten notes by Pelotte of call with Burns, Servants of the Paraclete, and related issues (1/90-2/90)  DOG.BURNS.00151

Handwritten memo by Pelotte on call with Burns about allegations and excuses (2/2/90)  DOG.BURNS.00152-00153

Psychological evaluation of Burns commissioned by Hoare of the Servants of the Paraclete (3/7/90) DOG.BURNS.00213-00220

Psychiatric interview of Burns detailing his admitted abuse of 10 boys (3/8/90) DOG.BURNS.00234-00235

Letter from Hoare to Pelotte: Burns into residential treatment with Servants of the Paraclete (3/16/90) DOG.BURNS.00237-00239

Memo to Pelotte on Burns, Servants of the Paraclete, and financial issues (7/26/90)  DOG.BURNS.00183

Letter from Lechner to Pelotte asking that a Paraclete therapy summary be returned after reading (8/21/90) DOG.BURNS.00275

Memo by Staller on meeting including Pelotte to disuss treatment, discharge, and reassignment (11/6/90) DOG.BURNS.00301-00304

Memo from Chancellor Torisky to Pelotte regarding alleged ritual abuse of a girl by Burns (3/30/93) DOG.BURNS.00335-00336

Handwritten note on ritual abuse allegation as implausible but potentially disastrous (4/2/93) DOG.BURNS.00380_00381

Letter from Lechner to Pelotte recommending removal of Burns: standard of care has changed (5/27/93) DOG.BURNS.00390-00391

Handwritten note on credibility of ritual abuse allegation (6/1/93) DOG.BURNS.00394

Letter from Pelotte to survivor: Burns' early retirement after allegation is not an admission of guilt (6/29/93) DOG.BURNS.00366

Polygraph report indicating Burns truthfully denied the ritual abuse allegations (10/24/93) DOG.BURNS.00363

Correspondence regarding Burns' ministry in Tucson against orders (1997) DOG_BURNS.00433-00440 in chronological order

Letter from Pelotte to Burns telling him not to minister in Phoenix diocese against orders (6/4/97) DOG.BURNS.00433-00434

Correspondence regarding allegation of 1974 abuse (2002) DOG.BURNS.00445-00454 in chronological order

Handwritten letter from survivor to Chancellor Kellen of Tucson about alleged abuse in 1974 (3/16/02) DOG.BURNS.00450-00453

Memo regarding phone call from person making 1974 allegation (4/2/02) DOG.BURNS.00456

Memo from O'Keefe to Bishop Pelotte recounting detailed telephone call with Burns survivor (4/3/02)  DOG.BURNS.00001-00002


Thumbnails of Released File Showing Full-Page Redactions

In addition to the 195 entirely redacted pages in the Burns file, nine pages were apparently removed from the file before its initial release. Those pages bore the Bates numbers: 356; 364; 396 or 397; 413; 414; three of the four pages 417-420; and 469.

redactions 1
redactions 79
redactions 157
redactions 235
redactions 313
redactions 391
redactions 469


















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