Another Area Priest from Boston Accused of Sexually Abusing Boy

By Will Matthews
San Bernardino Sun (San Bernardino, CA)
January 14, 2003

A second Catholic priest who ministered in the Diocese of San Bernardino is accused of sexually abusing a boy in Boston, San Bernardino church officials said Tuesday, nearly four months after learning about it from the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Rev. Paul McLaughlin, 72, served as a supply priest at St. Francisof Assisi Catholic Church in La Quinta in Riverside County from fall 2001 until May, when he officially retired from ministry, said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, diocesan spokesman.

McLaughlin also celebrated Mass one time at Sacred Heart CatholicChurch in Palm Desert, where Lincoln is pastor.

Lincoln said McLaughlin did not have permission to celebrate any of thesacraments, including Mass, in the San Bernardino Diocese, and that he violated diocesan policy by doing so.

"I assumed he had permission, and I didn't check,' Lincoln said. "Wedid not follow the proper process. We do everything that we can to protect kids. We don't do it perfectly, but we are trying.'

In order for a priest to obtain permission to celebrate Mass in the SanBernardino Diocese, a priest must have written clearance from the diocese in which he most recently worked, Lincoln said.

When it was discovered that McLaughlin did not have the properpaperwork on file, San Bernardino diocesan officials twice contacted the Boston Archdiocese seeking clearance for McLaughlin, Lincoln said.

There have been no reports of abuse by McLaughlin while he worked inthe San Bernardino Diocese, Lincoln said.

McLaughlin has been barred by the diocese from any future ministry.

"We did not want to go forward or go public with the allegation untilBoston notified Father McLaughlin,' Lincoln said. "We informed him in October that there was an allegation and that he was not in good standing in Boston, and he told us it was the first that he had heard of it.

"As far as I know, Boston to this day has not told him anything,either verbally or in writing.'

Lincoln said the purported victim, now an adult, has accused McLaughlinof abusing him in 1966 when he was a minor.

McLaughlin is the second priest facing allegations of sexual abuse whocame to the San Bernardino Diocese from the Boston Archdiocese, which includes San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The recently resigned leader of the Boston Archdiocese, CardinalBernard F. Law, transferred the Rev. Paul Shanley to the San Bernardino Diocese in 1990, despite what court documents show to be Law's knowledge of Shanley's support of sexual relationships between men and boys.

Shanley, Law and others were sued in San Bernardino Superior Courtearlier this month by 30-year-old Big Bear Lake resident Kevin English, who says Shanley sexually abused him and pimped him to other men.

The revelation prompted San Bernardino Bishop Gerald R. Barnes, at themeeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June in Dallas, to demand an apology from Law for transferring Shanley.

Law issued the apology and later, amid criticism of his handling of thechurch's child sexual-abuse scandal, resigned as archbishop.

Donna M. Morrissey, spokeswoman for the Boston Archdiocese, would notconfirm Tuesday whether any allegations had been levied against McLaughlin and said that if there was a pending investigation of McLaughlin, the archdiocese wouldn't discuss it.

Lincoln said Tuesday that parishioners at the two Riverside Countychurches have not been notified of the accusations against McLaughlin but that Barnes is considering making a formal announcement soon.

On Sept. 26 five months after the San Bernardino Diocese firstcontacted the Boston Archdiocese officials in Boston notified those in San Bernardino that the abuse allegation had surfaced against McLaughlin and that he had been placed on administrative leave.

On Nov. 1, two days after receiving written notice from Boston aboutthe abuse allegation, San Bernardino diocesan officials wrote a letter to the Boston Archdiocese, expressing disappointment about not being notified sooner.

"It put us in the untenable situation of having to explain theresidence in our diocese of a priest from another diocese who had allegations of sexual misconduct against him,' Lincoln said. "It was a tough position for us to be in, and it was very disappointing.'

Morrissey said Tuesday that she was unaware of any such letter andthat she is "unaware of the details of the story' that is being reported.

On Jan. 10, more than two months after diocesan officials in SanBernardino wrote to Boston, Bishop Richard G. Lennon, who was named interim head of the Boston Archdiocese when Law resigned, responded by saying he is unaware of any other priests in the Diocese of San Bernardino from the Boston Archdiocese who have been accused of sexual misconduct.


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