Vt. Probes Hingham Priest; 3 Men Allege Sex Abuse

By Judy Rakowsky
Boston Globe
June 14, 1993

The Vermont attorney general's office is investigating a Massachusetts priest for allegedly sexually abusing boys he brought to a vacation home he shared with another priest in Dover, Vt.

While declining to disclose details, Deputy Attorney General Wallace Malley confirmed that Vermont authorities are investigating sexual abuse allegations against Rev. John Hanlon, who is on leave from St. Paul's Church in Hingham.

Massachusetts officials have said they shared information with Vermont authorities about reports by three Massachusetts men who alleged they were abused in Father Hanlon's Dover resort home during summer vacations and winter ski trips.

Father Hanlon, who has been a priest for 38 years, is about to be tried in Plymouth County on two counts of rape of a child by force and three counts of assault with intent to commit rape of a child. A Massachusetts grand jury indicted him last June.

Plymouth prosecutor Geline Williams said the alleged victim in her case is not part of the Vermont case.

"Vermont is investigating someone else," Williams said.

The Plymouth victim, who had been an altar boy, allegedly was 13 when the abuse began more than 10 years ago; Father Hanlon was then pastor of a North Plymouth church. The acts allegedly took place at a Scituate cottage that Father Hanlon shared with another priest.

Father Hanlon has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Father Hanlon, 65, was named pastor of St. Paul's in Hingham in 1985. He is a co-owner of the Scituate cottage with Rev. Richard Wasneski of St. Peter's Church in Norwood, as well as part-owner of a ski chalet in Dover. Father Hanlon has been on administrative leave from the Hingham church since his indictment on June 22, 1992.

No accusations have been made against Father Wasneski. Lawyers for Father Hanlon could not be reached for comment.

Prosecutors plan to call the alleged victim in the Plymouth case to testify against Father Hanlon, District Attorney Thomas O'Malley said yesterday.

Father Hanlon has sought an indefinite delay of his trial, originally scheduled to start last week, contending he has suffered hearing loss significant enough to render him unable to hear the proceedings against him.

At a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, the findings of hearing specialists who have examined Hanlon will be presented to determine whether further delays are warranted, Williams said.

The victim in the pending case in Plymouth had 10 years from the time he turned age 16 to report the allegations under Massachusetts law, a requirement he met, according to the attorney general's office.

Rev. Edward Geary, who arrived in Hingham in December, six months after Father Hanlon went on leave, declined to comment on the prospect of new allegations against Hanlon last night.

Father Geary said, however, "He is a very popular pastor and very much loved by many people. The parish is concerned about their pastor, and we hope he will be exonerated and returned to us."

Father Hanlon was credited with invigorating the parish of 1,800 families, many of whom have rallied around their pastor since his indictment.

The Hingham church was cited in a Notre Dame study five years ago as a progressive church. Parishioners say the recognition was due to Father Hanlon, who was active in church groups for widows and divorcees and worked with bereaved children.

After the indictment, parishioners took up a collection for Father Hanlon's legal fees. Father Geary said that "people were invited to contribute, but there was no organized effort." He said he did not know how much money had been raised.


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