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Spotlight Report

Documents detail Law's steps on pastor, transferred priest

By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 12/12/2002

Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. discusses the release of new church documents at a press conference. (Globe Staff Photo / David L. Ryan)
While grappling with dozens of complaints of clergy sexual misconduct in the mid-1990s, Cardinal Bernard F. Law approved an accused priest for work as a military chaplain with no restrictions on his contact with children and allowed a pastor to retain his title even though he had been caught with child pornography.

These and other actions taken by Law are recounted in the files of 10 more priests and a deceased brother released yesterday in connection with a sexual abuse lawsuit.

But in contrast to church files released earlier, some of the records show Law and other church officials removing accused clergy from active ministry or, in the case of the priest approved for military duty, proceeding cautiously before awarding a new assignment.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., an attorney with the firm of Greenberg Traurig, which represents more than 200 alleged victims, said yesterday he was particularly concerned with records showing that Law signed a 1996 statement certifying the Rev. Redmond M. Raux for full-time work as a military chaplain, with no restrictions on work with children, even though Raux had been accused of fondling an underage teenager while a priest at Gate of Heaven Church in South Boston.

''I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children,'' Law said in the 1996 statement.

MacLeish called that irresponsible, another instance in which Law, in his view, showed insufficient concern for the possible risk to children.

''These are assignments where there are women and there are children,'' MacLeish said. ''Often one spouse is absent, and the chaplain does a great deal of work with children.''

But Timothy P. O'Neill, who is Raux's lawyer, contradicted MacLeish, saying the archdiocese had investigated the allegation and determined it was not credible, adding that Raux has always maintained his innocence.

Donna M. Morrissey, the spokeswoman for the archdiocese, released a statement asserting that the allegation against Raux was found to be unsubstantiated and that the archdiocese ''did in fact notify representatives of the military diocese'' of the unsubstantiated allegation.

The assertion is at least partially supported by the records released yesterday, which show that in January 1996, before Law certified Raux for the military and for work with children, an arch diocesan review board found that ''no sexual misconduct occurred'' in Raux's case, recommending that restrictions on his ministry be lifted.

Those records also show that the archdiocese reached an out-of-court settlement with the alleged victim's family for $200,000. But that settlement amount also covered additional - and more serious - allegations against a second priest, the Rev. James L. Wilson, who admitted to molesting the same South Boston teenager. ''The driving force for this settlement was not Red Raux,'' O'Neill said.

Also released yesterday were personnel records of the Rev. Robert A. Ward. The records show that the archdiocese knew at least as early as 1995 that the pastor used cocaine and had been treated for drug abuse. The records also show that in 1999 Ward admitted to ''extensive'' downloading of child pornography from the Internet, a discovery made when a technician repaired Ward's computer and noticed the sexually explicit material. Possession of child pornography is a crime punishable with up to five years in state prison.

After Ward's admission, Law placed him on health leave but allowed him to retain his title as pastor of Holy Ghost parish in Whitman. The following month, Ward submitted his resignation to Law due to what he described to another church official as ''serious personal health reasons.''

Ward remained on health leave until January 2001, when Law, following a Review Board recommendation, reassigned him as a special projects development officer at the church's development office and allowed him to live at St. Mary's rectory in Dedham. The assignment ended last February, when a local man alleged that Ward had sexually molested him in 1976 or 1977, when Ward was assigned to Our Lady of the Presentation parish in Brighton.

Yesterday, a woman who answered the phone at a Pembroke address where Ward is believed to be living said she did not think he wished to speak with a Globe reporter.

The records released yesterday also contain an allegation that the Rev. Alfred M. Murphy, a member of the Augustinian order assigned to the Assumption Church in Lawrence in the 1980s, repeatedly molested a 17-year-old youth during a 1983 cross-country trip in the priest's camper.

''The molestation continued every night for 21 nights, in spite of [the victim's] nightly efforts to avoid the abuse by remaining awake for as long as possible,'' wrote John C. Corrigan Jr., the the alleged victim's lawyer.

According to Corrigan's letter, also contained in church records, Murphy was not the only priest to abuse the youth. A few months before his trip with Murphy, the youth was approached by the Rev. George Callaghan, another member of the Augustinian Order assigned to Assumption Church, and lured up to the priest's room at the rectory. There, Callaghan made sexual advances toward him, saying if wanted to ''get closer to God'' he should take off his clothes and lie on Callahan's bed, according to the letter. Instead, the youth fled.

The Order of St. Augustine settled the allegations in an out-of-court payment to the youth in 1992. And the Rev. Donald F. Reilly, head of the Order's province in Philadelphia, said yesterday both Murphy and Callaghan were removed from active ministry as soon as the allegations became known, although they remain priests of the order.

The documents released yesterday also add intriguing detail to the story of an archdiocesan priest facing numerous sexual abuse charges. The Rev. Ronald H. Paquin, who was removed from the priesthood, received a severance package from the archdiocese.

The Rev. Charles Higgins, Law's assistant who handled sexual abuse complaints, in an April 2001 email was informed that the severance agreement was for $79,200. At the time, the church had settled several cases involving sexual molestation and Paquin. Today, Paquin is in jail awaiting trial on rape charges.

Additional church files released yesterday either document allegations previously reported by the Globe or they involve priests who were removed from active ministry after church officials learned of allegations against them.

Among them are four additional suspended priests and a deceased brother: Msgr. Frederick J. Ryan, a former vice chancellor, the Rev. George D. Spagnolia, the Rev. James F. Power, the Rev. Ross Frey, and the late Brother Ricardo, who worked at St. John's Prep in Danvers in the 1960s.

Stephen Kurkjian, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Walter V. Robinson of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

This story ran on page A38 of the Boston Globe on 12/12/2002.
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