Bombshell; Vicar Accused of Melesting Teen in Chancery

By Tom Mashberg and Robin Washington
Boston Herald
March 22, 2002

A former vice-chancellor and current pastor and vicar for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is being sued for molestation by a onetime West Roxbury schoolboy sports star who alleges he was sexually abused inside the cardinal's residence in 1979.

In a stunning complaint filed yesterday that strikes for the first time at the former leadership of the church, Garry M. Garland, 38, of Hanover alleges that Msgr. Frederick J. Ryan of St. Joseph's Parish in Kingston abused Garland in his quarters when Ryan was living at the chancery in Brighton.

Pending an investigation, the archdiocese put Ryan on administrative leave last night. According to Garland's complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court by attorney Daniel J. Shea, Garland's explosive allegations include these:

— That on a summer evening in 1979, then-Rev. Ryan took Garland to Joe Tecce's Restaurant in Boston and plied him with wine before taking him back to the chancery in Brighton at about 10:30 p.m. Ryan was also the chaplain at Catholic Memorial High School at the time, and Garland a student.

— That the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros saw Ryan bringing Garland into the chancery building and greeted the two with an embrace, but otherwise did not intervene in the episode, even though he allegedly saw the pair heading for Ryan's living quarters.

— That the walls of Ryan's room were covered with pictures of schoolboy sports stars, many from Catholic Memorial High School, and that Ryan referred to the decor as his "wall of fame."

— That Ryan promised Garland he too could become an "honored athlete" at Catholic Memorial if he cooperated with Ryan, and then plied Garland with more wine.

— That Ryan asked to see Garland's tattoo, called "the little guy," saying he had previously seen the tattoo on Garland in the locker room at Catholic Memorial, and that Ryan subsequently referred to Garland's penis as "the big guy."

— That Ryan convinced Garland to recline on his bed, and take off his pants, and then Ryan molested Garland, took photographs and performed a sex act on Garland before Garland left the chancery.

— Sources say Garland, a hockey star in high school who played minor-league hockey for about two years, did in fact receive a Cardinal Medeiros "honored athlete" award, and all-scholastic status at Catholic Memorial, after the abuse, in what looked to him and his lawyers to be a quid pro quo.

— That Garland later demanded the pornographic pictures back from Ryan, threatening to go to Medeiros if Ryan refused, but that Ryan claimed that Medeiros had "already seen and approved" of the photos and he ignored Garland's demands to give them up.

— That Ryan insinuated himself into Garland's life after the alleged abuse, even accompanying Garland to a New Hampshire football camp apparently run by Ryan; that years later, when Garland chose to marry his wife, Bridget, who is also a party to the lawsuit, Ryan used "blackmail" to be permitted to officiate at Garland's wedding.

— That Ryan groped Garland in the crotch as he waited in the sacristy before his wedding, and attempted to kiss him, and said to the groom words to the effect of "I guess this is the last time I get the big guy."

Garland was himself arraigned on murder charges in 1984 in the beating death of a New Bedford honor student with a tire iron. That charge was dropped, but Garland served community service and probation for assault and battery in a related incident, his lawyer, Shea, said.

Ryan, who is vicar of the Plymouth vicariate, is the highest-ranking archdiocese priest to be accused of molestation in the unfolding scandal scorching the Catholic Church. He did not respond to messages left for him last night at the Kingston rectory.

But the archdiocese, in a statement, said: "The Archdiocese of Boston has not received a copy of the lawsuit nor have we received in the past any allegation regarding sexual misconduct with a minor involving Msgr. Ryan. . . .

"We are mindful of the rights of the accused priest and any action taken in the course of our investigation should not be construed as as 'conviction' of the priest but an investigation to determine the plausibility of the allegation."

Garland's career in minor-league hockey included stints with the Flint Spirits and Denver Rangers of the International Hockey League from 1988-89. In 1989, he retired from the New York Rangers organization after a rotator cuff injury. He coached hockey for a time at Catholic Memorial and lived in Hull and Hingham before moving to Hanover with his wife and four children.

After leaving hockey, the Westfield State graduate worked for a time as an account executive for a copier company in Boston. He did not respond to messages left for him last night at his home.

His complaint also alleges that he maintained a relationship with Ryan for years after the abuse, even allowing Ryan to baptize two of his four children.

The complaint states Ryan "appeared to be able to usurp the family's local priest" with his authority as vice-chancellor and with subtle references to the photos.

Garland says he has been in therapy and in February suffered "an inexplicable panic attack when looking at a picture of (Bernard Cardinal Law) on the cover of Newsweek magazine."

Of Garland's 1984 assault conviction, Shea said, "He had no connection at all to the death (but) I wouldn't be surprised if all of these victims didn't have problems."

At the time of that incident, Ryan accompanied Garland's mother to the arraignment.


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