Blog Archives

Why Isn’t Boston’s Cardinal Law in Jail? Part 1


Why Isn’t Boston’s Cardinal Law in Jail? Part 1

By Chris Suellentrop     Posted Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2002, at 6:13 PM

From the link:  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2002/02/why_isnt_bostons_cardinal_law_in_jail.html

 

According to local polls, nearly half of Boston Catholics want Cardinal Bernard Law to resign in the wake of a child sex-abuse scandal involving pedophile priests. Cardinal Law admits assigning a priest to a new parish despite knowing that the priest had molested children. (Click here to read the Boston Globe‘s investigative reports on the scandal.) One family has targeted Law in a civil suit that accuses him of negligence and of intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress. But why isn’t Cardinal Law facing criminal charges?

Because what he did isn’t illegal in Massachusetts. Only 18 states require all persons to report knowledge or suspicion of child abuse. Massachusetts isn’t one of them. The other 32 states (including Massachusetts) and the District of Columbia require only persons designated as mandatory reporters to report child abuse.

Mandatory reporters are generally designated by profession: health-care workers, education and child-care workers, social workers, law enforcement officers, etc. Ten states specifically list “clergy” among their mandatory reporters. But Massachusetts isn’t one of those states, either. (Seven of the 10 states requiring clergy to report child abuse also recognize the clergy-penitent privilege, which exempts clergy who become aware of abuse through their capacity as a spiritual adviser, such as through confessions in the Catholic tradition.)

There is a movement afoot in the Massachusetts legislature, however, to add clergy to the state’s list of mandatory reporters. The Massachusetts Senate has already passed a bill that would add both clergy and lay leaders of any church to the list. The law would recognize the clergy-penitent privilege, and it would be retroactive, requiring knowledge of past abuse to be reported within 30 days after the bill becomes law. The bill is expected to pass the Massachusetts House soon, and the governor is expected to sign it.

But even if Massachusetts adds clergy to its list of mandatory reporters, Cardinal Law won’t be going to jail. Under Massachusetts’ mandatory-reporter statute, each instance of failing to report child abuse carries a maximum penalty of a civil fine of $1,000. (Failure to report is a misdemeanor in 34 states. In some of those states, it can lead to imprisonment of up to six months.)

 

 

But Why Isn’t Bernard Law in Jail? (Part 2)


But Why Isn’t Bernard Law in Jail? (Part 2)

By Dahlia Lithwick   Updated Thursday, Dec. 19, 2002, at 6:33 PM

From the link: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2002/12/but_why_isnt_bernard_law_in_jail_part_2.html

Almost a year ago, Slate‘s “Explainer” answered the question: Why isn’t Boston’s Cardinal Law in jail? The question was somewhat rhetorical. Since Massachusetts didn’t have a mandatory reporting law, the answer was that the cardinal was under no legal obligation to come forward with information about sexual abuse of children by priests he’d supervised.

Almost a year later, more lawsuits have been filed, depositions have been taken, church documents have been turned over, and we have a clearer picture of what precisely the cardinal has done, or not done, over the past decade and a half. What’s emerged is horrifying. Law was not only aware of egregious sexual misconduct among his subordinates but was apparently engaged in elaborate efforts to cover up incident after incident of child rape. Worse yet, he breezily reassigned clergy known for sexually abusing children to work with more children—conduct not all that distinguishable from leaving a loaded gun in a playground.

Last week, under increasing pressure, Law resigned. Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief. But many also wondered, silently: “Is that all? Does Law get to pack up his hat and retire to Orlando and a second career in canasta?” And the question lingers, more urgently than it did a year ago: Why haven’t criminal charges been filed against him? What Law has done goes far beyond “not reporting” suspected child abusers. This was no crime of omission. It is now clear that Law affirmatively engaged in a pattern of shielding child rapists and recklessly allowing them unfettered access to yet more victims. A high-school principal or the CEO of any company in America would have been indicted months ago.

The evidence speaks for itself: Last spring, Law admitted in a deposition that he was aware that John Geoghan had reportedly raped at least seven young boys in 1984 yet nevertheless approved the transfer of Geoghan to another parish, working with other boys. Other documents revealed that Law similarly knew of and ignored decades of reported child abuse by Paul Shanley, placing Shanley in ministries with access to other children. Shanley is currently facing trial on 10 charges of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery. Law is jetting back and forth to Rome.

Throughout his tenure, Law seemed to reserve his warmest sympathy for the abusers, not the victims. He lied to a West Coast bishop about Shanley’s history. He signed a document attesting that another known child-molesting priest, Redmond Raux, had “nothing in his background” to make him “unsuitable to work with children.” Last week, more court documents revealed that the archdiocese gave new jobs to two priests, one of whom was known to have molested boys while the other had supplied cocaine to a teenage lover. Law’s responses to these and earlier disclosures? The molesters had been cleared by physicians; the church kept bad records; his subordinates vetted the transfers; he forgot; he never knew; he’s sorry.

“Sorry” may not be good enough. Not for the victims—many of whose lives would not have been devastated but for Law’s recklessness—and not for the rest of us. According to a summer poll conducted by ABC News and Beliefnet.com, eight out of 10 Americans believe bishops who failed to act on abuse allegations should be prosecuted criminally.

This message may finally be getting through. It’s been suggested that Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly was being soft on Law to protect his elected position among Catholic voters. Similarly, the Los Angeles Times reported that L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley went far too easy on Los Angeles’ Cardinal Roger Mahoney because, as a Catholic himself, Cooley was too conflicted to zealously pursue the investigation. But the tide seems to be turning, and finally prosecutors have begun to empanel grand juries to investigate criminal wrongdoing in the upper echelons of the church. While only individual priests and no church leaders have so far been charged with crimes, over a dozen states have started to turn their criminal law machinery on the supervisors.

And last week, Law and seven bishops who worked for him were subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. Attorney General Thomas Reilly is finally making noises suggesting that the cover-up on the part of the church leaders was indeed criminal. For months, he had been insisting that there were simply no criminal laws on the books under which Law could be charged.

Reilly should consider taking a page from John Ashcroft’s book. The U.S. attorney general, never a man to be deterred by a shortage of enforceable laws, alternately invents new ones or rejiggers existing ones to suit his ends. It’s long past time that Reilly, Cooley, and their counterparts around the country started filing indictments. And their legal theory should be simple: A church official who knowingly puts a habitual child molester in a position to abuse more vulnerable children is aiding and abetting a crime.

The conventional wisdom is that getting criminal convictions won’t be simple. Reilly is correct that without child endangerment statutes, Massachusetts will have a tough time finding a hook for criminal prosecutions. (Child endangerment statutes were finally enacted in September in Massachusetts, but they cannot be applied retroactively). One tack being considered by Reilly’s office is to pursue church leadership under a state statute that criminally prosecutes companies for failures to stop wrongdoing by their employees—corporate vicarious criminal liability. Under this rule, the archdiocese could be sued as a corporation, just like any other, and Law would be liable merely because he was in a position of authority to prevent the crimes but didn’t. The penalty is fines, not jail time, but it’s a start.

Another route involves prosecuting church leaders for obstruction of justice. Some experts say that the Boston Archdiocese hasn’t actually obstructed any criminal investigation; it did turn over its documents. But in Phoenix, Ariz., prosecutors have suggested that Bishop Thomas O’Brien may soon face criminal obstruction charges for allegedly counseling victims’ families not to approach police.

One more tack being considered by the Massachusetts AG’s office is to file charges against Law as an accessory after the fact to the abuse. But to be an accessory, experts insist that you must intend for the abuse to occur; in other words, it’s not enough that Law knew his subordinates would molest again. It seems that not caring one way or another is insufficient.

In some jurisdictions RICO suits have been filed, using racketeering laws to prosecute the seemingly untouchable higher-ups in the church. Although early this month, a Cleveland grand jury cleared two bishops of racketeering charges, finding that their mishandling of sex abuse claims didn’t amount to criminal racketeering. This was a pretty creative use of the RICO laws, and it might work in other cases where the supervisors were more complicit in the coverups.

Last week, New Hampshire got a taste of how criminal indictments—or the threat of criminal indictments—may play out in the coming months. In settling a civil case, the Diocese of Manchester admitted that, had criminal charges been filed, the diocese itself would likely have been found guilty. Whether this kind of admission will embolden other prosecutors to file criminal charges or just use the threat as leverage in civil suits remains to be seen. But what’s becoming clear across the country is that the taboo is broken; that the church can still be a holy institution, but its criminals are not sacred. Civil suits and cash reparations are just not enough. Church elders who unloosed monsters on suffering children for decades cannot be treated as though they were above the law. Shakespeare wrote: “The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.” It’s past time for the law to wake up and punish the guilty.

Bishop John McCormack files: Bishop: Church brass hid sex scandal


Bishop John McCormack files: Bishop: Church brass hid sex scandal

By Eric Convey and Tom Mashberg         Boston (MA) Herald         June 4, 2002

Manchester, N.H. — A bishop who served as Bernard Cardinal Law’s top personnel aide for a decade testified yesterday that Archdiocese of Boston         leaders kept a wave of clergy abuse allegations secret because telling the faithful in the affected parishes might have created “a scandal.”

Bishop John B. McCormack, 67, now head of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., gave the explanation under oath in a deposition in the Rev. Paul R. Shanley abuse case, witnesses to his questioning said.

“He said he didn’t want to create a scandal,’ ” said a visibly incensed Rodney Ford, whose son, Greg, now 24, is suing Law, McCormack, Shanley and the Catholic Church for numerous rapes alleged to have occurred in the 1980s at St. Jean’s Parish in Newton.

“Well, this is a scandal at its highest,” Ford said. “It’s a disgrace what we have had to go through.”

McCormack, emerging from 5 1/2 hours of questioning by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., declined to discuss his testimony in detail or answer questions from reporters. “I’m glad I’ve had this opportunity to begin answering the questions that people have, that lawyers have,” said the embattled bishop, who has been urged to resign by The Manchester Union-Leader and numerous others. “I tried to answer them as completely, as thoroughly, as honestly as I could. Thank you for your interest. God bless you.”

The Herald reported yesterday that one document produced as a result of subpoenas in the Shanley case indicates a high-ranking archdiocese nun         urged McCormack and others in 1994 that parishes be alerted after their pastors were credibly accused of molestation. Time and again, church documents show, the nun was overruled in favor of secrecy. McCormack admitted yesterday he ignored the nun, Sister Catherine E. Mulkerrin, preferring to stifle the flow of any information to churchgoers.

At one point yesterday, according to Paula Ford, Greg’s mother, who was also at the deposition, McCormack acknowledged that he usually took the word of priests over parishioners when confronted with allegations of  child abuse. “In every incident of every alleged victim, he took the word of the priest over the word of the victim,” she said. “When he found out after the fact that the victim was telling the truth, he never took the time to go back to these people and validate their claims.

“This was one of the most painful days of my life,” she said yesterday. “The truth is so painful.”

MacLeish, who is to depose Law tomorrow and Friday, said the testimony also shows that McCormack and his colleagues at the chancery in Brighton ignored Mulkerrin’s advice in violation of a 1992 directive from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stating that lay Catholics should be kept         informed of sexual abuse reports. The conference is expected to issue new guidelines on the reporting of  abuse by clergy today.

“Had Bishop McCormack taken the advice of Sister Mulkerrin, and gone to the parishes where Paul Shanley and some of these priests had served,         and spoken to them and informed the parishioners of what was going on, I don’t think we would be here today,” he said.

MacLeish confirmed a Herald report yesterday that one of Mulkerrin’s memos read: “I know I sound like a broken record. But we need to put in         church bulletins `It has come to our attention a priest stationed here between 19XX and 19XX may have molested children – please contact. . .”

MacLeish said his recent deposition of the Rev. Charles J. Higgins, the current archdiocese personnel chief, showed that Boston officials have         discussed abuse at just three of the 200 parishes known to have been served by alleged abusers.

The tone of the session was cordial, said Peter Hutchins, a New Hampshire lawyer who also attended because he has cases involving the church. Written and audio-visual transcripts of the deposition could be made available as soon as this afternoon, pending a ruling by Middlesex Superior Court  Judge Raymond J. Brassard.

Testimony also included discussions of priests who have not previously been implicated in abuse cases, MacLeish said.

“This is a case about a pattern,” he said. “There were many, many priests who were mentioned today.”

Some questions focused on how the archdiocese handled allegations involving the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin, who is in jail awaiting trial for abuse. Others pertained to a group of priests who attended St. John’s Seminary in Brighton with McCormack in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

They include Revs. Joseph Birmingham, John Geoghan, Bernard Lane and Shanley, all of whom have faced multiple lawsuits.

MacLeish and his law partner, Robert A. Sherman, said soon-to-be released documents include information that could strengthen cases against three or four more priests. They said they planned to make files on 10 more abusive priests public as soon as today.

MacLeish and Sherman stated in court last week that church lawyers were blocking witnesses from cooperating during depositions. There were no         such problems with McCormack, MacLeish said.

The Fords said McCormack apologized to them over Shanley. Rodney Ford said he did not take the bishop seriously. Paula Ford said she expects         future sessions to produce more troubling details about the church’s handling of the issue.

“I can see the writing on the wall,” she said. “It’s not pretty.”

Bishop John McCormack files: Bishop offers apology to parents of a Shanley accuser


Bishop John McCormack files: Bishop offers apology to parents of a Shanley accuser

By Matt Carroll         Boston (MA) Globe         June 4, 2002

Manchester, N.H. — Bishop John B. McCormack apologized yesterday to the parents of a Newton man who allegedly was abused by the Rev. Paul         R. Shanley, a onetime Newton pastor who was investigated by McCormack for making past statements endorsing sex between men and boys.

Paula and Rodney Ford, the parents of Gregory Ford, said at a news conference that McCormack spoke to them directly at his deposition here, delivering an apology they described as “awkward” and unconvincing. “He apologized and said he was sorry for what happened,” said Paula Ford.

McCormack, who was a top deputy to Cardinal Bernard F. Law before being named bishop of the Manchester Diocese three years ago, made a brief statement after nearly six hours of sworn pretrial testimony in a lawsuit filed by the Fords.

“I tried to answer as thoroughly, as completely, and as honestly as I could,” said McCormack, who declined to take questions from reporters.

Shanley was arrested last month, accused of raping Paul Busa during the 1980s, when Busa was a child attending religion classes at the now-closed St. John the Evangelist Church in Newton. Shanley has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., the attorney for the Fords in their civil suit against Shanley and Law, is today expected to release copies of approximately         1,000 pages of church documents concerning alleged sexual abuse by 11 priests. MacLeish gained access to the documents through the lawsuit in         an attempt to show a pattern of negligent supervision of priests accused of sexual misconduct.

MacLeish is also scheduled to take pretrial testimony from Law in the Ford case tomorrow and again on Friday.

Meanwhile, Bishop Robert J. Banks, another former Law deputy who is now bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc., will be deposed today by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing 86 alleged victims of convicted pedophile and former priest John J. Geoghan.

Yesterday, Rodney Ford said he found it difficult to sit through McCormack’s deposition.

“It was one of the most painful days of my life,” said Ford, adding that it was particularly difficult to hear McCormack say that in some cases he never informed alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse that he had discovered they were telling the truth.

McCormack wrote to Shanley about a letter from a New York woman who said Shanley had advocated man-boy love, and asked the priest for an explanation. The Fords also said that during his deposition McCormack said he did not have access to documents in what the bishop called a “secret archive” at the archdiocese.

A transcript of McCormack’s deposition will be made public after a Middlesex Superior Court judge holds a hearing to determine when the transcript should be filed.

At the news conference with the Fords, MacLeish, who has repeatedly condemned the archdiocese this year for hiding the extent of sexual abuse among priests, also criticized a Globe report yesterday that said he and other lawyers secretly settled claims against many priests during the 1990s,         all of them individual settlements that had the cumulative effect of masking the extent of the problem. “The last thing we were doing was keeping anything quiet,” said MacLeish.

In an interview last night, MacLeish said he brought the extent of the problem to the attention of Boston news organizations almost a decade ago, but insisted that reporters were uninterested in pursuing the issue.

In December 1993, the Boston Herald and then the Globe quoted MacLeish saying he had brought sexual abuse claims involving 20 priests and 28         alleged victims to the Boston Archdiocese.

In the articles, MacLeish praised the archdiocese for removing the unnamed priests from service, saying the church had done a “commendable job” of handling the issue.

In a letter to the archdiocese’s lawyer less than three months earlier, MacLeish raised complaints against 17 priests, and said that just two of them may have had “potentially hundreds of other” victims.

“It is clear that these cases together reflect a systemic pattern of abuse within the archdiocese and an alarming pattern of institutional negligence on a disturbingly large scale,” MacLeish wrote in the Sept. 27, 1993, letter to Wilson Rogers Jr., the church’s attorney.

The 24-page letter contains extensive details about the specifics of the sexual abuse by the priests. Many of their names, and the allegations,  did not become public until this year. MacLeish made the letter public yesterday, he said, because it shows that he and his clients, in addition to seeking monetary settlements, also wanted the archdiocese to ensure that the priests would no longer have access to children. In the letter, MacLeish told Rogers he wanted to have the claims mediated, which was done in private.

Asked last night why he did not make the letter public in 1993, or file lawsuits to get the matter before the public, MacLeish said he did not take those steps because of a need to protect the victims, and because caps on liability for charities like the church made lawsuits less attractive than negotiated settlements.

When the Globe reported on Jan. 31 this year that the Boston Archdiocese had secretly settled claims involving more than 70 priests in the last         decade, MacLeish disclosed that his law firm accounted for more than 50 priests.

Philip Saviano, a victim of clergy sexual abuse who hired MacLeish to represent him in the early 1990s, said the lawyer did not go far enough a decade ago to expose the problem.

“What I’m saying is, whether [MacLeish] sees it this way or not, he was part of the big web of secrecy,” said Saviano, who is director of the New England chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Maybe he thinks he took steps to protect kids, but ultimately I’d say he didn’t go nearly as far as he should have.”

MacLeish, who represented more than 100 victims of former priest James R. Porter in the Fall River Diocese 1992, said the attention to that case         and the subsequent private claims he filed against the Boston Archdiocese forced the church to create new policies and remove priests.

Bishop John McCormack files: Church covered up 4 decades of abuse


Bishop John McCormack files: Church covered up 4 decades of abuse

By Tom Mashberg and Jack Sullivan         Boston (MA) Herald         June 5, 2002

Documents on 10 suspended clerics released yesterday put Bernard Cardinal Law, three subordinates and even the late Richard Cardinal Cushing at the center of a broad effort to hide the truth about clergy abuse from parishioners, victims and the public.

The damaging new documents on the suspended clerics also reflect unfavorably on the oversight of priests under the long-lionized Cushing as well as Law’s predecessor, the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros.

“What we now have before us is a four-decade-long pattern of protecting, harboring and covering up for known child molesters,” said attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who released the files and is to depose Law today.  “To claim any more that these are isolated cases is absurd.”

The Rev. Christopher R. Coyne, spokesman for Law, conceded yesterday that the latest batch of documents was damaging to his besieged archdiocese. “Once again, it was part of the protective culture of the church of the time,” Coyne said, “and forgetting . . . that the first thing has to be the protection of children.

“It’s going to take a long time to Recover the credibility we’ve lost,” he added.

Included in the files is a three-page handwritten 1993 Law memo in which he details why he let Rev. Eugene M. O’Sullivan be shifted in 1985 to  a diocese in New Jersey – even though O’Sullivan had been convicted of raping an Arlington altar boy just a year earlier.

“Boston was not acceptable because of possible scandal,” Law wrote in the 1993 memo, which he apparently prepared after the Associated Press and other news media contacted the chancery about O’Sullivan’s criminal past. “While assignment of a priest under these circumstances is arguable, our present policy does not permit it.”

Nonetheless, after O’Sullivan was bounced from Metuchen, N.J., because of his Bay State convictions, he was allowed by Law to wear his clerical collar for 17 more years – and even served formally at Carney Hospital in Dorchester. The lengths to which Law himself went to assure new priestly duties for O’Sullivan and two other longtime problem pastors – the Revs. Ernest E. Tourigney and Daniel M Graham – are just some of the troubling personnel moves outlined in the files, obtained by MacLeish as part a pretrial investigation of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

Other revelations included in the long-hidden files are these:

– Embattled Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., denied over and over to parishioners that Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham was a threat to molest minors, even though Birmingham’s personnel file showed evidence of abuse starting under Cushing in 1964. In April 1987, in his capacity as Law’s secretary for ministerial personnel, McCormack reviewed an emotional inquiry about Birmingham from a male parishioner at St. Ann’s Church in Gloucester. The parishioner, whose son, then 13, was an altar boy under Birmingham, said he learned that Birmingham had been removed from his parish for molesting children, and that the priest had soon after fallen into “poor health.”

Because Birmingham had also preached about AIDS, and was rumored to have engaged in risky sexual practices, the parishioner wrote: “I am concerned about the AIDS situation, and about a priest possibly molesting my son.”  He asked Law for an explanation. In answer, McCormack wrote that Law had received the letter and asked McCormack to investigate. McCormack then wrote: “I have contacted Father Birmingham and . . . he assured me there is absolutely no factual basis for your concern regarding your son and him. . . . I feel he would tell me the truth . . . in this matter.”

Birmingham died wasting away from cancer in 1989. Some 40 men have come forward in recent months to file lawsuits against him for abuse, and church files quote him admitting several times under questioning to “sexual improprieties.” Gary Bergeron of Lowell, a Birmingham accuser, said yesterday: “Page after page shows they all knew he was a molester a full decade before he abused me and my brother, but did nothing. It’s incredible to see how  these `men of God’ let this go on for so long.”

– The files mark the first clear indications Cushing engaged in cover-ups. The Herald reported last month that Medeiros was deeply implicated in         efforts to hide the depredations of defrocked and jailed pedophile James R. Porter. In a letter dated Oct. 1, 1964, a Marshfield couple wrote to Cushing detailing the sexual abuse of their 12-year-old son by O’Sullivan at St. Ann’s Church in Marshfield. In the letter, the couple told Cushing that O’Sullivan had fondled their son, an altar boy, several times that summer. They also informed Cushing of at least four other altar boys who spoke of being sexually abused by O’Sullivan. The couple said they had reported the incidents to the church pastor, who said he would relay their concerns to the archdiocese. The couple later found out the pastor had not followed through. That is when they wrote to Cushing.

“We are taking the liberty of reporting directly to you . . . trusting that you in your wisdom will know best how best to handle the matter,” the couple wrote Cushing.

Shortly after, O’Sullivan was transferred to Our Lady’s Parish in Waltham. That same year, similar accusations were levied, and he was again transferred, next to Point of Pines Church in Revere. An unsigned memo from 1964 acknowledges allegations against O’Sullivan and noted a three-week vacation was arranged beginning June 16, 1964, until July 6, 1964.

“Informed (O’Sullivan) that we would transfer him, effective approx. July 9,” the note states.

And despite Law’s insistence in his 1993 memo there were “no previous reports” of accusations on O’Sullivan, an internal memo from “T.J.D.” to Bishop Alfred Hughes confirmed the O’Sullivan problem. “As far as I can see there is no evidence of treatment following the events of 1964, just transferred etc. . . .,” the memo states.

– Regarding Father Graham, removed in February from St. Joseph’s in Quincy, the papers show he was assigned a “mediator” in 1988 by Bishop         Robert J. Banks, now of Green Bay, Wis., a Law aide who was deposed yesterday for his role in the Boston scandal.

The mediator was Shanley, now awaiting trial on three counts of child rape, who acted as middle-man between Graham and the accuser. Shanley         referred Graham to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), a program for sexual addictions loosely based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

“With Fr. Paul Shanley’s help I have discovered a helpful support group, S.L.A.A.,” Graham wrote to his victim. “Meetings are helpful to keep ones sexuality in check.”

Graham was cleared by church officials to resume parish ministry, but in 1992 was charged once again with abusing minors. In a 1996 letter to         Graham, Law offered him a dispensation from Law’s 1993 rules governing  molester priests so that he could resume parish work.

– The documents also further the evidence that Medeiros allowed pedophile priests to remain in the ministry and transferred rather than disciplined them.

In 1973, Medeiros approved the request of Rev. Ernest E. Tourigney to take a post as student chaplain at Catholic University in Washington.         Medeiros knew Tourigney had been transferred to St. Mary’s in Holliston after accusations of molestation at Immaculate Conception Church in Weymouth.

In his letter to Medeiros requesting the post, Tourigney said his stay at St. Mary’s helped “alleviate a long-term difficult situation with the parish, which I have tried to do to the best of my ability.”

“During my years as a priest, I have worked with the youth both on a parish and deanery level,” he wrote. “It is the type of work I enjoy doing the most, find most rewarding and feel most qualified in doing.” The records indicate there were at least eight victims who accused Tourigney of sexually assaulting them. Still, McCormack and Law gave him new slots.

– One of the more sordid tales to emerge from the papers involves accused predatory priest Richard O. Matte. A man alleges he was abused by Matte after he went to the cleric about being sexually abused by another priest at various places, including drug dealers’ houses in the early-1980s.

According to a letter to church lawyers from Robert A. Sherman, the victim’s attorney and MacLeish’s partner, the then-14-year-old boy was the victim of “violent sexual abuse” by the Rev. Richard Buntel from 1979 to 1985. Both Buntel and Matte were assigned to St. Joseph’s Church in Malden.

The victim claimed Buntel befriended him and introduced him to alcohol and marijuana, later feeding him cocaine and exposing him to “violent         pornography.”

“On one occasion, two drug dealers associated with Fr. Buntel urged Fr. Buntel to make a pornographic film of him sexually assaulting (the         victim),” Sherman wrote. “(The victim) does not know if this film was ever made.”

Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Boston


Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Boston

The sexual abuse scandal in Boston archdiocese was part of a series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States and Ireland. In early 2002, Boston Globe coverage of a series of criminal prosecutions of five Roman Catholic priests thrust the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests into the national limelight.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] The coverage of these cases encouraged other victims to come forward with their allegations of abuse resulting in more lawsuits and criminal cases.[11]

As it became clear that there was truth to many of the allegations and that there was a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-up in a number of large dioceses across the USA, what had originally appeared to be a few isolated cases of abuse exploded into a nationwide scandal. The resulting scandal created a crisis for the Catholic Church in the United States, encouraging victims in other nations to come forward with their allegations of abuse, thus creating a global crisis for the Church.

Ultimately, it became clear that, over several decades in the 20th century, priests and lay members of religious orders in the Catholic Church had sexually abused minors on a scale such that the accusations reached into the thousands. Although the majority of cases were reported to have occurred in the United States, victims have come forward in other nations such as Ireland, Canada and Australia. A major aggravating factor was the actions of Catholic bishops to keep these crimes secret and to reassign the accused to other parishes in positions where they had continued unsupervised contact with youth, thus allowing the abusers to continue their crime.

History

Boston Globe coverage

In 2002, criminal charges were brought against five Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area of the United States (John Geoghan, John Hanlon, Paul Shanley, Robert V. Gale and Jesuit priest James Talbot) which ultimately resulted in the conviction and sentencing of each to prison.[12] The ongoing coverage of these cases by The Boston Globe thrust the issue of “sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests” into the national limelight.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][13] The coverage of these cases encouraged other victims to come forward with their allegations of abuse resulting in more lawsuits and criminal cases.[11]

In 2003, the series of articles in the Boston Globe received a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The Globe was honored, according to the Pulitzer website, “for its courageous, comprehensive coverage … an effort that pierced secrecy, stirred local, national and international reaction and produced changes in the Roman Catholic Church.”

Alleged cover-ups

Grassroots public advocacy groups like Voice of the Faithful focused on Cardinal Law after documents revealed his extensive role in covering up incidents of sexual misconduct of his priests. For example, Cardinal Law moved Paul Shanley and John Geoghan from parish to parish within the diocese despite repeated allegations of molestation of children under the priests’ care. Later, it was discovered that Father Shanley even advocated the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Under questioning, the cardinal stated that, when a priest committed a sex crime, the cardinal said his practice was to seek the analysis of psychiatrists, clinicians and therapists in residential treatment centers before deciding whether a priest accused of sexually abusing a child should be returned to the pulpit.

In 1984, John Brendan McCormack became Secretary for Ministerial Personnel in the Archdiocese of Boston. In this position, McCormack was Cardinal Law‘s point person on hearing complaints against priests accused of sexual misconduct and removing some of them from active duty.[14] He was later accused of taking too little action in handling John Geoghan, a Boston priest who allegedly molested over 130 children during his ministry.[14]

In 1990, after receiving complaints from an alleged victim, he removed one priest from duty and sent him to treatment, only for the same priest to later serve as a hospital chaplain.[15] He also wrote conciliatory letters to another priest accused of pedophilia and who once defended the North American Man/Boy Love Association,[16] then failing to notify the diocese to which that priest was later transferred of the accusations made against him.[15]

Cardinal Law’s response

Cardinal Law’s term as Archbishop of Boston began in popularity but quickly declined into turbulence towards the end of his term. Allegations and reports of sexual misconduct by priests of the Archdiocese of Boston became widespread causing Roman Catholics in other dioceses of the United States to investigate similar situations there. Cardinal Law’s actions and inactions prompted public scrutiny of all members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the steps they had taken in response to past and current allegations of sexual misconduct at the hands of priests. The events in the Archdiocese of Boston exploded into a national Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.

Law’s public statements and depositions during the abuse crisis claimed that the Cardinal and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston did not initially have the expertise to understand pedophilia and ephebophilia and relied upon doctors’ recommendations.[17] In January 2002, Law stated, “I promulgated a policy to deal with sexual abuse of minors by clergy. This went into effect on Jan. 15, 1993,” and also noted that the, “policy has been effective.”[18] His depositions echoed those sentiments.[17]

Impact on the diocese

Settlements in the Boston, Massachusetts suits were estimated to be up to $100 million. In some cases insurance companies have balked at meeting the cost of large settlements, claiming the actions were deliberate and not covered by insurance. This was additional financial damage to the Archdiocese, which already faced the need to consolidate and close parishes due to changing attendance and giving patterns. In June 2004, much of the land around the Archdiocese of Boston headquarters was sold to Boston College, in part to raise money for legal costs associated with scandal in Boston.[19][20]

Resignation of Cardinal Law

Law submitted his resignation to the Vatican and Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation on December 13, 2002.

In a statement and apology Cardinal Law said, “To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness”. He remained cardinal, which is a separate appointment, and participated in the 2005 papal conclave.

Handling by Bishop Lennon

Bishop Richard Lennon‘s appointment as apostolic administrator of the Boston archdiocese, following the resignation of Cardinal Law, brought criticism from some sex-abuse victims’ groups. This criticism increased after Bishop Lennon‘s appearance in the Frontline Documentary “Hand of God.” The movie documents the history of a Salem, Massachusetts sex scandal and its effects on the film maker’s own family. Lennon closes the Salem parish despite the fact it is not losing money for the Church. Then, when the movie’s filmmaker attempts to film the administrative building where his brother reported his own sexual abuse, Lennon exits the building, shoves the camera, declares he won’t “feel bad about this” after being told why the filmmaker wants to film the building’s exterior, attempts to avoid any discussion of the sex scandal by refusing to talk about anything other than the Church’s private property rights, and responds to the film maker’s claim that he doesn’t care by calling the filmmaker a “sad little man.”

Archbishop O’Malley

Bishop Sean O’Malley was appointed Archbishop of Boston on July 1, 2003, having already dealt with sexual abuse scandals in the dioceses of Palm Beach and Fall River.

In September 2003, the Archdiocese settled most of the abuse-related claims for $85 million.[21]

In June 2004, the archbishop’s residence and the chancery in Brighton and surrounding lands were sold to Boston College, in part to defray costs associated with abuse cases.[22][23][24] The offices of the Archdiocese were moved to Braintree, Massachusetts; Saint John’s Seminary remains on that property.

On August 25, 2011, Cardinal Seán O’Malley released a list of 159 names of priests who had been accused of sexually abusing a minor.[25] The publication mentioned that 250 priests in the archdiocese had been accused but 69 names were omitted because they were either deceased, weren’t active ministers, had not been publicly accused, or were dismissed or left prior to canonical proceedings. An additional 22 names were omitted because the accusations could not be substantiated; nine of these priests were still in active ministry

Sexual abuse cases in the Boston archdiocese

John Birmingham

In 1987, after at least 23 years of child molesting by Father Joseph Birmingham during which time he was shuffled to various parishes, the mother of an altar boy at St. Anns wrote to Law asking if Birmingham had a history of molesting children. Cardinal Law wrote back “I contacted Father Birmingham. … He assured me there is absolutely no factual basis to your concern regarding your son and him. From my knowledge of Father Birmingham and my relationship with him, I feel he would tell me the truth and I believe he is speaking the truth in this matter.” [26]

As a result of the unlawful sex, the Archdiocese of Boston lost millions of dollars in fines and settlements. It also funded the legal defense of accused priests. The archdiocese slipped into large financial deficits.[citation needed] The Archdiocese closed sixty-five parishes before Cardinal Law stepped down from service.

In response to the scandal, over fifty priests signed a letter declaring no confidence in Cardinal Law and asking him to resign [27] – something that had never before happened in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in America.

Paul Desilets

Paul Desilets, a retired Quebec priest, has been indicted on 27 counts of indecent assault and battery dating back to his time as a parish priest in Bellingham, Mass., between 1978 and 1984. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is seeking extradition.[28]

Robert V. Gale

Robert V. Gale was sentenced to 4.5–5 years in prison in 2004 after pleading guilty to repeatedly raping a boy in Waltham during the 1980s.[29][30] Gale (who had been treated in 1987 following years of abusing children[31][32][33][34]) began a restricted ministry around 1992,[35] living at St. Monica’s in South Boston while studying at the University of Massachusetts.

Cardinal Law, who had the ultimate authority, signed off on letting Gale remain at St. Monica’s. An adolescent reported that Gale abused him in his room/office in the rectory just a few months after Law’s decision was made.[30][32][35]

John Geoghan

John Geoghan (1935 – 2003) was accused of sexual abuse involving more than 130 children. Charges were brought in Cambridge, Massachusetts, concerning accusations of a molestation that took place in 1991. Geoghan was defrocked in 1998. He was found guilty in January 2002 of indecent assault and battery for grabbing the buttocks of a 10-year-old boy in a swimming pool at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club in 1991, and was sentenced to nine to ten years in prison.

The trial included testimony from the victim; from a psychiatrist, Dr. Edward Messner, who treated Geoghan for his sexual fantasies about children from 1994 to 1996; and from Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, who testified that he banned Geoghan from the swimming club after a complaint that he had been proselytizing and had prurient conversations there.

After initially agreeing to, and pulling out of, a $30 million settlement with 86 of Geoghan’s victims, the Boston archdiocese settled with them for $10 million, and is still negotiating with lawyers for other victims. The most recent settlement proposed is $65 million for 542 victims. The settlements are being made because of evidence that the archdiocese had transferred Geoghan from parish to parish despite warnings of his behavior. Evidence also arose, as a result of allegations against Geoghan, that the archdiocese displayed a pattern of shipping other priests to new parishes when allegations of sexual abuse were made.

Two other cases were charged against Geoghan in Boston’s Suffolk County. One case was dropped without prejudice when the victim decided not to testify. In the second case, two rape charges were dismissed by a judge after hotly contested arguments because the statute of limitations had run out. The Commonwealth’s appeal of that ruling was active at the time of Geoghan’s death, and remaining charges of indecent assault in that case were still pending at that time.

On August 23, 2003, while in protective custody at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, Geoghan was strangled and stomped to death in his cell by Joseph Druce, a self-described white supremacist and inmate serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for killing a man who allegedly made a sexual pass after picking Druce up hitchhiking. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be “ligature strangulation and blunt chest trauma.” There have been questions raised about the wisdom and propriety of placing these two men in the same unit, since prison officials had been warned by another inmate that Druce had something planned.[15]

Paul Shanley

According to Leon Podles in his book Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, “In late 1993, Shanley was sent to the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut, for evaluation. The Boston archdiocese has refused to release this evaluation, but other released files show that Shanley admitted to nine sexual encounters, of which four involved boys, and that he was diagnosed as “narcissistic” and “histrionic.” Shanley admitted that he was “attracted to adolescents” and on the basis of this confession, the Boston archdiocese secretly settled several lawsuits against Shanley. The archdiocese of Boston in 1993 had to admit to the diocese of San Bernardino part of the truth about Shanley, and the bishop of San Bernardino immediately dismissed him.”

In February 2005, Shanley was found guilty of indecent assaults and the rape of a male minor and received a sentence of 12 to 15 years in prison. Shanley’s case remains controversial because the allegations of abuse came only after the victim (now an adult) alleged that he “recovered” memories of the abuse from approximately 20 years earlier. The notion of “repressed memory” is highly controversial and has been excluded from several courts of law.[36] The manner in which the accusations against Shanley arose and enormous attention in the media also have given rise to questions about the validity of the convictions.[37][38][39][40][41]

Robert A. Ward affair

In February 2002, Rev. Robert A. Ward was accused of molesting an altar boy in Boston 1970. [42] [43][44][45] Records show that the archdiocese knew at least as early as 1995 that the pastor used cocaine and had been treated for drug abuse. The records also show that in 1999 Ward admitted to downloading of child pornography from the internet, a discovery made when a technician repaired Ward’s computer and noticed the sexually explicit material. Ward was suspended by the Archdiocese of Boston in February 2002 and defrocked by the Vatican in 2005 [46]

References