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 Latest coverage

April 6
Church settles with four in suit

February 25, 2004
Priest was a potential witness

July 22
CEO would testify of abuse

May 8
Personal records are barred

April 8
Victim's memory is questioned

April 5
Archdiocese motion granted

February 28
Disagreement over court dates

January 28, 2003
Steps on Shanley are detailed

January 14, 2003
Former vicar admits he erred

December 12
Shanley is released on bail

December 10
Shanley may be freed on bail

December 1
Battle over files intensifies

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Church petitions judge for gag order

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 4/4/2002

CAMBRIDGE - The Archdiocese of Boston yesterday asked a Superior Court judge for a ''gag order'' on documents it was ordered to hand over tomorrow to the alleged victim of sexual abuse at a Newton parish by the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

The church argued that the victim and his family should not be allowed to publicly discuss the documents until a hearing is held on April 17 on whether the documents should be made public.

The lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court charges that Shanley was a child molester who was knowingly allowed by Cardinal Bernard F. Law to remain as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Newton until 1989.

Today, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Leila R. Kern will consider arguments and decide whether Gregory Ford, the alleged victim, and his family will be allowed to publicly discuss the documents, once they are turned over, or whether they must remain silent until the issue is decided later.

Also yesterday, a spokesman for the San Diego Police Department said Shanley has been dismissed from his volunteer job in a police program that sometimes involved fingerprinting children at fairs and checking up on senior citizens. Shanley, who is listed as retired by the archdiocese, has been living in San Diego.

The department fired him in an e-mail, said spokesman Dave Cohen. ''We don't need that kind of association,'' he said, referring to Shanley's problems in Boston, which include multiple allegations that he molested children, including several claims the church has already settled with victims.

In court, lawyers for the archdiocese argued, as they have in other cases, that the documents did not need to be turned over because the church's First Amendment protections insulate it from civil liability in such cases.

However, the church agreed to turn over the documents before the hearing on the constitutional issues.

''We offered to produce documents to plaintiff's attorneys before a ruling on the issue of constitutional protections, as long as the documents were not disseminated to third parties pending the court ruling on the protections,'' church spokeswoman Donna M. Morrissey said in a statement.

Ford, 24, was supported at the hearing by his parents and a crowd of about 15 to 20 relatives and friends.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., Ford's lawyer, said preventing the family from speaking about the documents would amount to a ''gag order.'' Kern said she preferred to refer to it as a ''confidentiality order.''

Shanley was well known as a charismatic ''street priest'' in the 1960s and 1970s, who worked with gays and runaways. Ordained in 1960, he also served in parishes in Stoneham and Braintree.

Matt Carroll can be reached at

This story ran on page A22 of the Boston Globe on 4/4/2002.
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