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2014 update

Crux, a Catholic news site

A new site from the Boston Globe includes news updates on clergy abuse and other Catholic issues.
 Latest coverage

April 7
Psychologist testifies on Porter

April 6
Victims oppose Porter release

January 30, 2004
2 fathered by priest settle suit

January 6, 2004
Church could defrock priests

July 23
Priest asks judge to toss suit

June 28
Haverhill priest sentenced

June 11
Alleged victim takes the stand

April 16
Record of priest's care at issue

February 11
More abuse records released

February 7
Board dismissed accusations

February 5
Lennon gave advice on priest
Police warned church on priest
Deacon hired over Law protest

February 1
Lawyers find more priest files

January 31, 2003
Records on 10 clergy released
Priest details longtime affair

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Predator Priests

    Evidence suggests that many instances of child abuse by clergy were not one-time, isolated incidents. Shielded by a church culture of secrecy, some deviant priests preyed upon numerous victims during multiple parish assignments. Four priests in particular stand out for the number of abuse claims or the seriousness of the charges against them.

    • Now-defrocked priest John Geoghan allegedly preyed on young boys in a half-dozen Boston-area parishes for decades. He is serving nine to 10 years in prison for fondling a youth at a pool in Waltham; a child rape charge and many civil claims are pending.

    • Up until his death in 1989, the Rev. Joseph Birmingham allegedly befriended and then abused at least 50 boys over a 29-year career as a priest in the Boston Archdiocese, even as archdiocesan officials ignored numerous complaints against him.

    • The Rev. Paul R. Shanley ran a "street ministry" in Boston in the 1960s and '70s, allegedly taking advantage of youths who came to him for guidance. He is awaiting trial on charges he raped four boys at a Newton parish.

    • The Rev. Ronald H. Paquin is the only Boston-area priest who has admitted guilt in a criminal molestation case, and is serving 12 to 15 years in prison for rape. He also has acknowledged molesting several boys during his ministry at parishes in Haverhill and Methuen.

    Church records have revealed stories of many other repeat abusers, including priests who traded drugs for sex with minors, fathered children, and physically assaulted their victims. In the case of almost every predator priest, church officials had reports of abusive behavior, but allowed the priests to remain in ministry, documents show. In many cases, accused priests were sent for brief periods of psychological evaluation, then returned to parishes -- where they abused again.

See the story list to the left for the latest coverage of the cases involving predator priests.

John Geoghan
John Geoghan | Coverage
(Globe Staff Photo / John Blanding)

Joseph Birmingham

Joseph Birmingham | Coverage

Paul Shanley

Paul Shanley | Coverage
(Globe Staff Photo / George Rizer)

Ronald Paquin

Ronald Paquin | Coverage
(Globe Staff Photo / Tom Herde)

Interactive map

Culture of silence
Coverups in the church A history of secrecy, coverups in Boston Archdiocese
Church documents, official testimony, and victim interviews gathered over the past year paint an extraordinary picture of secrecy, deception, and delusion in the Boston Archdiocese.

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