Anguished; Second Family Accuses Vicar of Abuse

By Tom Mashberg, Eric Convey and Robin Washington
Boston Herald
March 23, 2002

Even as his parishioners organize to support him, a second family has come forward to accuse Msgr. Frederick J. Ryan of Kingston of molestation in the 1970s.

James O'Loughlin, an 18-year Wayland police officer, said yesterday Ryan molested his older brother, Daniel, in 1970, when Daniel was an altar boy in Boston.

James O'Loughlin said the O'Loughlin family has long believed the alleged abuse ruined Daniel's youth. He said his brother tried to tell their father about the abuse when it occurred, and revealed it to him in more detail in the mid-1970s, after years of delinquent behavior.Daniel died while the passenger in a car crash during an MDC police pursuit in 1977 at age 20.

"The family always knew it but we didn't discuss it," James O'Loughlin said. "Then, when my dad was on his death bed, in 1999, he called me in and said: 'The one thing I regret in life is your brother, because that priest was doing things to him and I didn't want to believe him.' "

The O'Loughlins say they are coming forward after learning that Garry M. Garland, 38, of Hanover, a former hockey star at Catholic Memorial in Boston, has filed a class action suit against Ryan and the church in Suffolk Superior Court for sexual assault and battery.

In an interview yesterday, Garland said: "This is not about myself or about money - it's about helping people come forward and protecting vulnerable children."

Garland alleges he was abused in 1979 in a chancery apartment that Ryan, then vice chancellor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and pastor at Catholic Memorial, had next door to the residence of the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros in Brighton.

Ryan was suspended late Thursday from his post as pastor of St. Joseph's Parish in Kingston, and as vicar for 16 Southeastern Massachusetts parishes, as a result of Garland's allegations.

Efforts to reach Ryan yesterday and Thursday were unsuccessful.

The archdiocese said it would probe the charges. Garland's attorney, Daniel J. Shea, met yesterday with The Rogers Law Firm, counsel to the church, to discuss the suit.

Ryan is the highest-ranking active priest in the archdiocese - and the 11th cleric since January - to be suspended as a result of the church's molestation scandal. He is also the first whose acts are alleged to have occurred at the cardinal's own residential compound.

The Herald first reported in January that at least 50 Boston Archdiocese priests since 1960 have been subjects of abuse settlements that were kept secret. But Ryan's name had not emerged until now.

In Kingston yesterday, a group of parishioners stood before St. Joseph's to defend Ryan in spite of Garland's shocking lawsuit, which includes allegations that the priest plied him with wine, took multiple naked photos of him, performed a sex act on him when he was 14, and blackmailed him with the photos.

"I want you to know that I do not believe these allegations have any merit," said Susan M. Wallace, 45, a parent and parishioner for 15 years. "I stand with Msgr. Ryan. He is a good, kind pastor, and a man of impeccable integrity."

Told of those comments yesterday, Garland, a father of four, said: "Clearly this comes as a shock to anyone who was friends with Rev. Ryan, but denial is part of this problem, and betrayal is terrible.

"I only ask that they consider how they would feel if one of their 13-year-old children had gone to a priest seeking advice and help, and that priest had preyed upon them."

In his suit, Garland alleges Ryan used the nude photos of him - allegedly shot while Garland was inebriated and inside Ryan's chancery rooms in 1979 - to blackmail him into allowing Ryan to remain his family priest. Yesterday he said he had proof - in the form of photos of himself partially clad in the locker room at Catholic Memorial that he says were shot by Ryan and periodically sent to him as "reminders" of what Ryan held over his head.

"The domino effects of guilt, anger, shame and fear I have gone through," said Garland, "it all goes back to this incident, to this man's attempt to keep hold on my life."

For the O'Loughlins, Garland's decision to step from the shadows was the impetus they needed to speak out as well. Ryan had been an assistant priest at Most Precious Blood Church in Hyde Park during the 1960s, and Daniel, as the eldest son, was the first to be sent to him as an altar boy.

James O'Loughlin said yesterday that his late brother first told their father, a Boston police officer, of the abuse in the early 1970s.

"You wouldn't believe what Father Ryan's making us do," Daniel reportedly told his father, James recalled. "Back then," James added, "you could say no wrong of a priest."

Soon after, Daniel O'Loughlin went from being a happy, straight-A student at Don Bosco High to a troubled youth who died when a friend fleeing the MDC police crashed the car in which they were riding. "The change in my brother was incredible," O'Loughlin said.

The boys' father refused to let his other boys be altar boys.

Daniel and James' mother, Mary O'Loughlin, 70, also said yesterday she has long ruefully pondered her late husband's words about Ryan.

"In those days, you never would talk about your priest," she said. "I would just say, 'no, no, no.' (My husband) went on his death bed saying something had happened when Danny was an altar boy."

Mary O'Loughlin says she refused to trust the accusations until yesterday, when news broke of the Garland lawsuit. "I was flabbergasted," she said, recalling how she had approached Ryan at one point to discuss Daniel's problems and "he just brushed me off."

Now, she said, the truth must emerge. "We are not looking for anything, believe me," she said. "It's just that we would like this to be known."


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