2 Accuse Priest of Molestation in 1969

By Sacha Pfeiffer
Boston Globe
March 15, 2000

Two former parishioners of St. Ann's Church in Dorchester have filed a lawsuit against a Catholic priest who once served there, accusing him of sexually molesting them when they were children.

William and Paul Oberle, who are brothers, allege that the Rev. Paul J. Mahan "engaged in a pattern and practice of explicit sexual behavior and graphic sexual conversation" with them in 1969, when they were 12 and 7, respectively. They allege that Mahan fondled their genitals, spoke to them about pornography, and offered them pornographic materials, according to the lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court. The Oberles, now 42 and 37, allege that the misconduct usually took place on Mahan's boat, at the church, and on Boy Scout outings.

According to the suit, which was filed Friday, the priest's alleged actions destroyed the Oberles' faith in the church and led to a lack of trust in priests. They also suffered anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, depression, and low self-esteem as a result, according to the suit.

The brothers waited until now to file suit because "not until recently did they realize that their problems were caused by" Mahan, according to their lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian. Garabedian also represents 83 plaintiffs who have filed similar suits against John J. Geoghan, the defrocked Catholic priest accused of sexually molesting scores of children in Boston-area parishes over four decades.

The Archdiocese of Boston did not return calls seeking comment on the Oberles's lawsuit. Mahan, whose last known address was in Arlington, Va., could not be reached for comment.

According to the Official Catholic Directory, Mahan was on sick leave in 1997. The 1999 version of the directory no longer lists him as a priest.

The lawsuit also names as a defendant anyone who hired, supervised, and retained Mahan.

William Oberle lives in Dorchester. Paul Oberle now lives in Royce City, Texas.


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