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Spotlight Report

Chaplain admits abuse, is removed from parish

By Judy Rakowsky, Globe Staff, 3/21/2002

A State Police chaplain who admitted to molesting an altar boy more than two decades ago was removed from his Oxford parish yesterday.

The Rev. Gerard F. Walsh acknowledged in a letter that he sexually abused a youth when he was assigned to a parish in Leominster. The boy is now 37 years old.

Ray Delisle, spokesman for the Diocese of Worcester, said last night that Walsh is on leave from his post at St. Roche's Parish in Oxford, where he has been assigned since 1993.

Delisle said Walsh will remain on leave pending the outcome of a criminal investigation by the Worcester district attorney's office.

Delisle said the church is cooperating fully with that investigation. Walsh wrote a letter to his accuser acknowledging his behavior, the diocese confirmed.

Walsh cut a familiar public profile as a State Police chaplain. He officiated at the second inauguration of William Weld as governor and often offered his observations for stories in the Globe.

After President Clinton was impeached by the US House, Walsh called on his parishioners in Oxford to use the Christmas season to try to heal the national spirit.

''People need to be reconciled. We are now a splintered nation. People feel very strongly one way or the other on this and we need that process of healing, especially at this point when people have become so polarized.''

And after the fatal plane crash of John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1999, Walsh commented on how the Kennedy family has drawn on faith in times of crisis.

''They always come back to that and it seems to give them strength to go on,'' Walsh was quoted as saying.

In 1990, Walsh eulogized State Trooper Joseph F. Moynihan, who was killed in a plane crash along with an FBI agent in Maine. Walsh, speaking to 1,000 mourners in Framingham, said Moynihan ''personified what it meant to be a dedicated police officer.''

This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 3/21/2002.
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