Das: Church's Lists Worthless without Further Information

By Jules Crittenden, Laurel J. Sweet, Tom Farmer and Robin Washington
Boston Herald
February 1, 2002

Frustrated district attorneys say lists of 38 accused pedophile priests provided by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston late Tuesday are virtually worthless for investigatory purposes.

"We have nothing we can proceed on," said Essex District Attorney Kevin Burke, who was given six names of priests. "We have a list of clergy who have offended and general information. It's hard to tell whether we're talking about incidents or numbers of victims."

He and several other top prosecutors say they will demand more information from the archdiocese.

Several DAs also rejected the archdiocese's insistence that church representatives will approach victims first to see if they would agree to handing their names to law enforcement officials. But some DAs said they will rely on the church to approach victims and would hold back on demanding additional files.

Several DAs urged victims to call their offices directly, noting that their investigators are professionals with experience handling sensitive sex abuse cases.

Some DAs, speaking both publicly and privately, also said they will be alert for evidence of wrongdoing by high church officials who handled cases of pedophilic priests.

"I expect we will do a very thorough investigation on all aspects of this matter. We are taking this very seriously," said Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz, whose office received three names.

Suffolk District Attorney Elizabeth Keeley, whose office received nine names, said, "As we go forward we will be reviewing and assessing the information that was known by the church at different times."

But Keeley said it is premature to say whether any charges might be warranted against church officials whose actions shielded pedophiles and allowed them to molest others.

Cruz, Burke, Norfolk County District Attorney William R. Keating and Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley intend to press immediately for more information. But Keeley and Barnstable First Assistant District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said they will allow the archdiocese to approach victims, and will only press for more information as they determine that cases are viable.

Those DAs insisting on more information said they would decide whether to seek subpoenas for church files based on the archdiocese's response to their requests. They said many of the accusations appear to be too old to prosecute, but that cannot be determined without examining case files.

The archdiocese provided the names of 38 accused priests, the ages but not names of victims, and the years of alleged molestation incidents to DAs in Suffolk, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Barnstable counties on Tuesday. More names may follow as the archdiocese's law firm continues to review records.

The unprecedented release of pedophile priests' names followed Bernard Cardinal Law's promise to end a decades-old practice of failing to turn suspected pedophiles over to law enforcement and shielding them from public exposure. Lawyers for victims say the archdiocese has dealt with at least 50 pedophile priests, and some reports place the number even higher.

Keating was given the names of seven priests suspected of sexually abusing minors in his jurisdiction, but the list was short three names he was expecting to see, spokesman David Traub said.

Yesterday afternoon, Keating asked church officials to turn over information on three more potential pedophile priests his office has been aware of, as well as names of victims and "other evidentiary material," Traub said.

Coakley was given the names of 10 priests accused of child sexual molestation between 1968 and 1993. Only one of the names was familiar to her office, said her spokesman, Anson Kaye.

Coakley will allow the archdiocese an opportunity to voluntarily furnish a list of victims with the hope the church responds "expeditiously," Kaye said.

When asked if Middlesex prosecutors will question archdiocese officials on what they knew about pedophile priests and how long they knew it, Kaye said, "Only to the extent that it's relevant to proving a criminal charge against a particular individual."

None of the DAs would release the priests' names to the press or the public, and several indicated that is unlikely to happen unless priests are criminally charged.

The following 18 Boston-area priests are alleged to be pedophiles and have been identified by the Boston Herald through court records and other sources:

** John J. Geoghan

** James Porter

** The Rev. Thomas A. Kane

** The Rev. Paul Connolly

** The Rev. Jay M. Mullin

** The Rev. Bernard J. Lane

** The late Rev. Samuel J. Lombard

** The Rev. Ronald H. Paquin

** The Rev. Victor Frobas

** The late Rev. William H. Morgan

** John R. Hanlon

** The Rev. Robert Barrett

** The Rev. Richard T. Coughlin

** The Rev. Andrzej Sujka

** The Rev Frederick Guthrie

** The Rev. Arthur DeMello

** The Rev. Eugene O'Sullivan

** Paul Mahan


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.