Crisis in Church
Law Praised Accused Priest in His Letter

By Tom Mashberg and Marie Szaniszlo
Boston Herald
December 12, 2002

Bernard Cardinal Law assured the U.S. military in 1996 that a priest who settled a child molestation case was fit for ministry with minors, and as of yesterday the priest was serving as an Air Force chaplain in Wyoming, newly released church documents show.

Yet Law apparently did not alert the military to the full specifics of the cleric's files. And a lawyer who uncovered the chaplain's personnel data among subpoenaed archdiocese papers said yesterday, "No one from the military ever contacted the accuser or anyone else familiar with details of the case."

The files show the Rev. Redmond M. Raux, 47, a wing chaplain and lieutenant colonel at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, was accused in 1993 of molesting a boy in 1987 - and that he signed onto a $ 200,000 settlement in the case in 1995.

The case involved a second priest, James L. Wilson Jr., 41, of Lynn. In a 1993 meeting, Wilson, who has since been laicized, admits to his role in the abuse and goes on to tell archdiocese officials: "(The victim) told me about what Father Red did to him."

Law put Raux, a priest for 20 years, before his Archdiocese Review Board in 1995, and accepted the board's January 1996 recommendation that Raux be cleared of molestation charges and returned to active ministry in the military.

Law then assured the Military Archdiocese that he was "unaware of anything in (Raux's) background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children."

Law's letter prompted Auxiliary Bishop John J. Glynn, then-vicar for chaplains, to sign a "certificate for ecclesiastical endorsement" granting Raux active-duty status.

Thomas Connolly, vice chancellor for the Military Archdiocese, said yesterday he could not comment on specific personnel issues.

But he added: "We take such letters from bishops very seriously. Any bishop who signs such a letter is making a very strong commitment. That letter is a big deal."

Law's spokeswoman issued a statement last night, saying, "The Archdiocese of Boston did in fact notify representatives of the Military Diocese to the unsubstantiated allegation" against Raux. But she would not say whether Raux's full case file had gone to Glynn.

The Air Force Press Desk, in a statement, said: "Father Raux was investigated by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Catholic Military Archdiocese. The allegations against Chaplain Raux were unsubstantiated."

But an Air Force spokeswoman could not say whether the probe of Raux included a review of his full church file, including the settlement forms and the details of the alleged conduct, or interviews with his alleged accusers.

Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who released the Raux file, said, "I know categorically that the military never contacted the people involved in the molestation settlement case signed by Father Raux.

"One would think the military would want to know all the details - and talk to all concerned - before placing a chaplain on a military base with children," he said.

Contacted by phone yesterday in Wyoming - where he was preparing for a transfer this weekend to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida - Raux told the Herald: "I have no comment. I do invite you to talk to my attorney." A call to the lawyer, Timothy P. O'Neill of Boston, was not returned.

Capt. Stacy L. Vaughn, spokeswoman at Warren Air Base, called Raux "an outstanding man who cares about our troops and would do anything for their morale."

According to church files, the Raux-Wilson case unfolded like this:

In January 1993, Sister Catherine Mulkerrin met with an 18-year-old student at Boston College High School who told her that in 1987, when he was 13, he was waiting in the rectory of Gate of Heaven parish in South Boston when Raux invited him and a girl to his room to watch what turned out to be a pornographic movie.

The incident was one of several encounters the boy said he went on to have with Raux, who took to grabbing him from behind and touching his genitals when they were alone in the church sacristy or vestibule.

The boy stopped attending Mass, he said. The following year, he joined the local Catholic Youth Organization, or CYO, and the parish's new priest - Father Wilson - befriended him.

At one point, Wilson asked if Raux had been "fooling around" with him, and the boy confided in him, he told Mulkerrin.

An archdiocesan report dated Aug. 23, 1993, seven months after the boy's meeting with the nun, summarizes the allegations, noting that Raux denied them and was on administrative leave, pending a second assessment.

Wilson, the report adds, "admits the substance of the allegations," is on sick leave at Our Lady's Hall in Milton, and "will be engaged in long-term therapy and never assigned to a parish."

Wilson could not be reached yesterday at his Lynn apartment, where he has lived for nine months, according to a neighbor.

Laurel J. Sweet contributed to this report.

Caption: RAUX: Recommended despite abuse settlement.

Graphic: Cardinal knowledge; Despite knowing the Rev. Redmond M. Raux signed a settlement in a child abuse case, Bernard Cardinal Law assures the military he knows of no reason why Raux would be unsuitable to work with children in the May 6, 1996, letter recommending Raux for a chaplaincy in Wyoming.


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