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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

Calif. parish says Boston kept quiet on accused priest

By Stephen Kurkjian and Michael Rezendes, 4/7/2002

Despite three decades of complaints that the Rev. Paul R. Shanley had sexually abused children, the Boston Archdiocese transferred the onetime "street priest" to a California parish where officials were never told of the molestation allegations.

"I should have known that," the Rev. Lawrence F. Grajek said yesterday from his post as pastor of St. Anne Church in San Bernardino, where Shanley was sent in 1990. "I would have wanted to place restrictions around what he could and couldn't do. In fact, if there had been a problem with children, I'd not have wanted him at all."

Grajek made his comments about Shanley during a telephone interview while an attorney for one of Shanley's alleged victims prepared to release formerly secret documents from a file maintained by the Boston Archdiocese.

A church adviser told the Globe that the documents will include a 1977 record of a statement by Shanley in which Shanley said he did not believe that pedophilia was deviant or immoral. Pedophilia is the term for sexual urges or activity toward prepubescent children by adults. The adviser could not say to whom Shanley made the statement.

The church adviser said the formerly secret documents would be "quite damaging" to the archdiocese; others familiar with the documents said they will show the church had reason to believe Shanley was a child molester while leaving him assigned to parish work where he had access to chidren.

Such a disclosure would mirror revelations in the case of convicted child molestor John J. Geoghan, who is accused of molesting more than 130 children.

Legal documents released in January after a motion filed by the Globe showed that Cardinal Bernard F. Law and his top bishops reassigned Geoghan to parish work even though they had overwhelming evidence that Geoghan was a serial child molester.

Law arrived in Boston in 1984.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., the attorney for Greg Ford, a 24-year-old Newton man who has filed a lawsuit against Shanley, said yesterday that he had obtained hundreds of church documents regarding Shanley after winning a court order last week that will allow him and his clients to discuss and distribute the documents.

The court order stemmed from the suit filed by Ford, who has accused Shanley of repeatedly raping him beginning when Ford was 6 and ending when he was 11, in 1989, not long before Shanley left the Boston Archdiocese.

For MacLeish, the formerly secret documents are so significant that he held a well-attended news conference yesterday outside the old rectory at St. John the Evangelist Church in Newton merely to say that he would release the documents at a second news conference tomorrow.

Asked to characterize the documents, MacLeish said they would describe the "terrible history" of Shanley's decade-long service at St. John's and "what the archdiocese knew in 1979, before Shanley arrived" at St. John's.

The documents will show that church officials assigned Shanley to St. John's even though they had received credible allegations of sexual abuse about Shanley since the 1960s, said individuals familiar with the documents.

Church officials in Boston under Law also allowed Shanley to take up parish work in California without informing church leaders there that Shanley had been accused of molesting children.

Grajek, the pastor of St. Anne Church in San Bernardino, said Shanley was assigned to St. Anne's for two years during the early 1990s and given all the responsibilities of an associate pastor, including the supervision of children. Grajek said he knew of no complaints made against Shanley in California.

Bishop Phillip F. Straling, head of the San Bernardino Diocese when Shanley arrived, said in a separate interview that, though he did not recall Shanley's transfer, he would not have accepted him as a priest if he knew there had been any allegations made against him in the Boston Archdiocese.

"We only took a transfer if he had a clean record," said Straling, who is now bishop of the Reno Diocese. "If there had been anything against him, we'd never have taken him."

Shanley, who was known as Boston's "street priest" in the 1960s and '70s, was ordained in 1960 and held parish assignments at St. Patrick's in Stoneham, St. Francis of Assisi in Braintree, and St. John's in Newton during his three decades in Massachusetts. He was also chaplain at Boston State College in 1969, the same year he established "Rivendell," a retreat house for youth workers on a 95-acre farm in Weston, Vt.

In 1970, Shanley launched his "ministry to alienated youth," based at St. Philip's in Roxbury, for runaways, drug abusers, drifters, and teenagers struggling with their sexual identity.

He ran the ministry for eight years, attracting wide public attention for embracing ostracized minorities and challenging the church's position on homosexuality.

In 1979, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros reassigned Shanley to the Newton parish, even though in 1974, according to one of Shanley's victims, the cardinal had been notified of Shanley's abuse by the victim's mother. Shanley said publicly at the time that he was removed from the youth ministry because he differed with Medeiros over the church's outreach to homosexuals.

Ten years later, he left for a sabbatical in California, surfacing at St. Anne Parish in San Bernardino.

Church directories list Shanley on "sick leave" from 1990 to 1995. For three or four years in the mid-'90s, according to church directories, Shanley was acting director of Leo House, a guest house for clergy, students, and travelers in New York City.

Church directories indicate Shanley is now a "senior priest" assigned to the clergy personnel office at archdiocesan headquarters in Brighton. But he has been living in San Diego working as a police volunteer in an organization that finger-printed children at county fairs. He was dismissed last week, according to San Diego police.

Shanley's alleged victims in the Boston Archdiocese included a 42-year-old South Shore man who received a $40,000 settlement from the archdiocese in 1991 after notifying church officials that he had repeatedly been anally raped by Shanley in about 1972, when he was 12 or 13.

The alleged victim, who asked that his name not be used, said he met Shanley after responding to a newspaper advertisement the priest had placed encouraging troubled teenagers to contact him for counseling.

The man, whose mother had recently died, agreed to have Shanley pick him up near his house.

"I thought we'd just talk," the man said, "but he brought me back to his apartment and sodomized me. It was really bad. I was bleeding, and he brought me to the train and gave me money to get home."

The man said he felt he couldn't refuse to meet with Shanley again because Shanley made veiled threats about notifying his family of their relationship. "He'd say things like, `It would be a shame if this information got out to your parents,"' the man said.

The abuse ended, the man said, when he had a "breakdown" triggered by one of Shanley's telephone calls.

"He called me at home and I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't stop shaking. Then he stopped calling. I think after I snapped he left me alone. I'm sure he was able to tell from that conversation that he was dealing with someone who was losing his stability."

The experience left him "a mess" he said.

"You go downhill quick and everybody saw the difference, but they didn't know why," the man said.

"The whole thing reminds me of the expression, `When the wolf hears the rabbit scream he comes a'runnin, but not to help.' Shanley was that type of person. Anyone who was in trouble, it was his opportunity."

Jackie Gauvreau, a St. John's parishioner who has said she twice told Law that Shanley had abused a teenage boy who told her of the experience, said yesterday that she pities Shanley. The boy who contacted Gauvreau has declined to talk about his experience.

"I don't hate him, I hate what he did," said Gauvreau of Shanley, recalling what amounted to her personal crusade to have the priest removed from St. John's in the 1980s. "I pity him."

Sacha Pfeiffer and Walter V. Robinson of the Globe Staff contributed to this story.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 4/7/2002.
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