Archdiocese, Prosecutors Agree to Deal over Withheld Information

By Denise Lavoie
Associated Press
November 18, 2005

[Links to the cited documents, which are publicly filed, have been provided by 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.]

BOSTON --The Boston Archdiocese on Friday agreed to increase openness about its priests' backgrounds as part of a settlement with federal prosecutors investigating whether the church transferred a priest without revealing an allegation he'd "fooled around with kids."

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.

The archdiocese said in a statement it was pleased with the settlement, and added it "has consistently maintained that there was no basis for a criminal prosecution."

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.

A review board for the Boston Archdiocese found the new allegations were unsubstantiated and no criminal charges were filed against Scanlan. [Scanlan and the alleged victim were informed.]

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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