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Spotlight Report

Priest said he asked about Reardon, documents show

By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff, 2/02/2002

Months before the arrest of Middleton youth worker Christopher Reardon, the Rev. Jon C. Martin -- the former pastor of St. Agnes Church and Reardon's former supervisor -- told church workers that he phoned the Boston Archdiocese to ask for guidance about his behavior.

According to newly released court documents and a person who worked at the church at the time, Martin said he told the archdiocese that some parishioners were circulating rumors about Reardon's inappropriate actions around children.

"I was told by Father Martin that he had called the archdiocese and asked, `How do you handle something like this?' " the worker, who requested anonymity, said in an interview yesterday.

Martin was told by the archdiocese that he and his staff "had to try to find out more" before acting on suspicions, she recalled.

Four months later, police arrested Reardon when a boy told them that he had been sexually abused by him. Police later found in Reardon's possession computer-generated charts listing the names of hundreds of boys, sexual paraphernalia, videotapes, and detailed notes.

Reardon, a 28-year-old lay religious instructor when he was arrested in June 2000, ultimately pleaded guilty to sexual crimes involving 24 boys and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

The newly released documents were made public after Jeffrey Newman, a lawyer representing Reardon's victims, fought to make them public. Newman intends to use them as proof of negligence in a civil suit against the church.

According to a police report contained in the documents, Martin told Essex County prosecutors that he "tried to follow up" on the rumors about Reardon and "called the Bishop's office" to ask what to do about vague accusations some parishioners were making about the youth worker. A transcript of Martin's interview with prosecutors indicates that he met with someone on the parish council to discuss the allegations.

The worker said yesterday that she and Martin sent out a survey to some parents in the parish and the church council asking them to evaluate Reardon. "We were trying to see if anybody would come forward," the worker said.

No one did.

This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 2/02/2002.
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