Archdiocese, Prosecutors Agree
to Deal over Withheld Information
[Links to the cited documents, which are publicly filed, have
been provided by BishopAccountability.org. We have made additional
redactions to the documents to keep confidential the name of an alleged
victim and the name of a patient. We have also redacted the accused priest's
social security number. See also a linked list of the selected
Scanlan documents in chronological order.]
The church was accused of withholding information about the Rev. William Scanlan from federal authorities when Scanlan became a chaplain at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1999.
U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan agreed to end a grand jury investigation without bringing charges against the archdiocese, if the church agreed to new reforms and reporting requirements.
Under the deal, the church is required to provide background information
on priests in the military, the VA and federal prisons to federal prosecutors.
The church must also provide detailed information about chaplain candidates,
audit its policies for child protection, promptly report allegations of
abuse and implement other anti-abuse programs and internal controls.
Neither the U.S. Attorney's Office or the archdiocese identified the chaplain, but a source close to the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed previous press accounts that identified him as Scanlan, who once worked as a priest in Stoughton. [See Scanlan's archdiocesan assignment record.]
In the written agreement released Friday, federal prosecutors said the priest's personnel file contained notes written in 1987 by an unnamed bishop who was serving in a senior-level position in the Boston Archdiocese. The notes contained allegations from another priest that Scanlan had "fooled around with kids" during his assignment at a home for troubled adolescent boys, which was not identified. [An archdiocesan review of the Scanlan file states that the "unnamed bishop" was "RJB"—auxiliary bishop Robert J. Banks.]
The file also contained a 1987 evaluation from a residential psychiatric treatment facility that indicated Scanlan had become infatuated with one of the boys. [The cited document is not the evaluation itself, but another archdiocesan summary of the Scanlan file. The summary quotes from a 1986 evaluation done after Scanlan checked himself into the House of Affirmation.]
In December 1998, Scanlan was hired by VA as a chaplain. As a condition of his employment, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management did a background investigation in which they sent forms to the Boston archdiocese seeking any "adverse information" about Scanlan. [Previously (on 6/1/98) Cardinal Law had recommended Scanlan as a chaplain, writing that he was "unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children."]
Prosecutors alleged that in May 1999, a bishop [William F. Murphy] who had been Scanlan's supervisor "falsely certified that the Archdiocese of Boston had no adverse information," even though the bishop would have had access to the personnel file that included the abuse allegations.
They also allege that in June 1999, the local archdiocese received false assurances from the Boston archdiocese that cleared Scanlan to live [rather, minister] in a parish that included an elementary school. Prosecutors said the same bishop [Murphy] completed a form that "falsely stated" that Scanlan "has manifested no behavioral problems in the past that would indicate that he might deal with minors in an inappropriate manner."
Prosecutors would not name the bishop who allegedly provided false information.
Michael Fee, an attorney representing the archdiocese, disputed Sullivan's allegations, saying a priest who did not know Scanlan's personnel file existed prepared the form for the bishop to sign. That person "had no information about this priest being unfit or being the subject of allegations of sexual misconduct," Fee said.
He also said the references in Scanlan's file were not substantiated allegations of abuse.
In May 2000, after new allegations of sexual misconduct were made against Scanlan [see also Scanlan's denial], the archdiocese suspended his ministry pending an investigation. But neither Scanlan nor the archdiocese told Scanlan's supervisor at the VA facility, prosecutors allege.
No telephone listing could immediately be found for Scanlan, who is now retired and believed to be living in Rhode Island.
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