Records: State Police Warned Church

Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)
February 5, 2003

Patriot Ledger staff and news services

A priest who served in three South Shore towns came close to being arrested in the 1980s when State Police observed him with boys and men at Cape Cod rest stops, newly released church records say.

State Police warned the Archdiocese of Boston about the Rev. Arthur P. O'Leary's activities in 1985 and 1986, the records show. At the time, the priest was an associate pastor at St. Christine Church in Marshfield.

The Rev. O'Leary denied the allegations to church officials. After he was transferred to St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Church in Hanover in 1991, two families complained to church authorities that he had touched their sons inappropriately.

In one case the Rev. O'Leary allegedly pulled a boy's pants down, saying he wanted to see the child's boxer shorts. He also allegedly routinely massaged the shoulders of altar boys while they were counting the collection.

The Rev. O'Leary could not be reached this morning at his Yarmouth home.

The priest was ordained in 1975 and served at Our Lady of the Rosary in Stoughton before going to St. Christine in 1981. He was put on leave in 1994 after the Hanover complaints and was sent to an Ontario treatment center twice.

Church officials removed him from ministry reluctantly in 1996 because they concluded that his actions constituted "sexual misconduct" even though one official observed that "this case was different from some of our more celebrated abuse cases."

"There was no clear-cut acting out, no sexual contact," the official wrote in a 1996 memo.

He was among four priests whose personnel files were given yesterday to a Suffolk Superior Court judge by lawyers for alleged victims of the Rev. Paul Shanley.

The new information also includes an allegation by two brothers from Canton in 1992 that a church deacon, Mark Doherty, molested them on a camping trip to Conway, N.H., in 1977. Years later, a woman told church officials Doherty molested her when she was a child.

Church officials, including Cardinal Law, refused Doherty's request to be ordained as a priest, citing the abuse allegations. Cardinal Law wrote letters to former Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, N.C., informing him of the allegations against Doherty and saying he would not recommend him for ordination.

Doherty was never ordained as a priest in North Carolina, but he was allowed to work as a religion teacher at a Catholic high school in North Carolina. A spokesman for the Charlotte diocese said Doherty was placed on administrative leave yesterday.

In another development yesterday, prosecutors have dropped some charges against the Rev. James F. Talbot, a former Boston College High School coach and teacher accused of molesting three students in the 1970s, two of whom now live in Quincy and Milton.

Suffolk County prosecutors agreed with the Rev. Talbot's defense attorney that five counts of indecent assault on a person over 14 should be dismissed because the offense was not a crime until 1980, spokesman David Procopio said.

The Rev. Talbot still faces one count of rape and one count of assault with intent to rape, Procopio said.

He pleaded innocent to all the charges after he was indicted in September.

The dismissals reduce the number of alleged victims in the criminal case. Procopio could not provide a number.

Prosecutors originally said the victims ages ranged from 14 to 17, and that they were student-athletes. The indictment alleged that the crimes occurred on Saturdays in the BC High locker room.

Then a hockey and soccer coach at the school, the Rev. Talbot allegedly brought the boys into the locker room and engaged them in wrestling matches in which he would coerce them into removing their clothes.

Last month, 14 men who alleged that the priest molested them at Boston College High School and elsewhere agreed to a settlement of $5.2 million.


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