Diocese Bars Substitute Priest
Inland: There Is No Local Accusation. Disclosure of a Misconduct Allegation in Boston Brings the Move

By Michael Fisher
Press Enterprise [Riverside, CA]
January 15, 2003

San Bernardino — The Boston Archdiocese waited months before telling Inland Catholic leaders that a priest who was free-lancing at some Coachella Valley parishes had been accused of sexual misconduct, an Inland church official said Tuesday.

The Diocese of San Bernardino has barred the accused priest, the Rev. Paul McLaughlin, from working as a substitute priest.

McLaughlin is the second Boston priest to be banned from ministry in the Inland area.

In 1990, Boston officials transferred the Rev. Paul Shanley to St. Anne Catholic Church in San Bernardino, describing him as a priest in good standing. In fact, the Boston Archdiocese knew that Shanley had been accused of molestation.

Shanley, a central figure in the Roman Catholic Church's sex-abuse scandal, was dismissed by the San Bernardino Diocese in 1993 when his past came to light.

McLaughlin, who is 72 and retired, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Donna Morrissey, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Boston, said she could not discuss any accusation against McLaughlin or the archdiocese's contact with the Inland diocese.

The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the San Bernardino Diocese, which encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said McLaughlin substituted frequently from fall 2001 to June 2002 at St. Francis of Assisi in La Quinta and other Coachella Valley churches.

"On Nov. 1, we wrote a letter to the Archdiocese of Boston expressing our keen disappointment that we had not been advised of this allegation earlier," Lincoln said. "Once again, we are put in the untenable position of needing to explain the questionable residence of a priest from another jurisdiction against whom an allegation of sexual misconduct had been lodged."

In May 2002, the Boston Archdiocese received a complaint accusing McLaughlin of sexual misconduct with a minor in 1966, said Lincoln, who declined to discuss further details of the allegation.

Boston officials did not share the allegation with the Inland diocese until late September, Lincoln said.

Morrissey said that when a sexual-abuse accusation is made, the Boston Archdiocese contacts authorities and conducts an internal investigation that could last weeks or months.

McLaughlin was not transferred but retired to the Inland area, Lincoln said.

In a Jan. 10 letter, the Boston Archdiocese reported that it was unaware of any other former Boston priest now residing in the Inland area who has been accused of past sexual abuse, Lincoln said.

Lincoln also said Tuesday that in July, the Inland diocese dismissed the Rev. Esteban Trujillo, a visiting priest from the Order of St. Augustine in Mexico. He had worked as a substitute priest at St. Charles Borromeo in Bloomington and at St. George in Fontana since mid-2001, Lincoln said.

The Mexican religious order told the diocese in July that it investigated and cleared Trujillo of an allegation of past sexual misconduct, Lincoln said. Trujillo is believed to have returned to Mexico, he said.


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