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Spotlight Report

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Superior Court judge orders ex-priest's record released

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff, 5/17/2002

In another court ruling requiring the release of a priest's church records, a Superior Court judge yesterday ordered lawyers for former priest Paul J. Mahan and the Archdiocese of Boston to publicly file personnel records for Mahan, including those relating to treatment at two facilities that treat sexually abusive priests.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney, who issued a similar order last year in the case of former priest John J. Geoghan, said the documents should be filed after attorneys remove the names of alleged victims who are not involved in several lawsuits charging Mahan with sexually molesting minors.

The Globe reported in February that it had obtained church documents showing that officials with the archdiocese had received allegations of sexual abuse by Mahan as long ago as the late 1980s and had allowed him to continue working as a priest. The documents showed that Mahan was treated twice at the St. Luke Institute, in Suitland, Md., and that in 1995 he was found to be ''untreatable.''

Mahan, who was ordained in 1968, is accused in lawsuits of sexually molesting more than a dozen children - including one girl and two of his own nephews.

The alleged abuse dates to 1969 while Mahan was a priest at St. Ann's Church in Dorchester, and allegedly continued through his assignment at St. Joseph's Church in Needham in the early 1980s. Mahan also was pastor at St. Matthew's Church in Dorchester before church officials removed him from active ministry.

The archdiocese moved to defrock Mahan in 1997. After leaving the priesthood, he lived in Arlington, Va., and is believed to have remained in that area.

Yesterday, Mahan's attorney, Martin S. Cosgrove, asked that all of Mahan's personnel records be kept from public view. But he urged Sweeney to take particular note of 10 church documents covering July 1995 through August 1997 that concerned Mahan's treatment at the St. Luke Institute and at Southdown, an Ontario, Canada, facility .

But after examining the psychiatric records, Sweeney ruled that because they were addressed to church officials they are not subject to a confidentiality privilege that covers private communications between psychotherapists and their clients.

Last night Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who represents 11 people who say they were abused by Mahan, released two of the documents covered by Sweeney's order.

One is a September 1995 letter from the Rev. Brian M. Flatley to the Rev. Richard G. Lennon, which reported a conversation between Flatley and a therapist at St. Luke Institute who recommended in February 1995 that Mahan be discharged as ''untreatable.''

Flatley, the church official then directly responsible for overseeing priests accused of sexual misconduct, also wrote that the therapist ''is convinced that Father Mahan is exhibiting the symptoms of a sociopath. He regards Father Mahan as a dangerous person. He is a threat to adolescent males.''

Michael Rezendes can be reached at

This story ran on page A26 of the Boston Globe on 5/17/2002.
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