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Priest cleared of rape charge


A Catholic priest who was accused of rape in 2002 during the clergy sexual abuse scandal has been cleared of all the charges , the Archdiocese of Boston said yesterday.

The Rev. Thomas M. Curran , 61, was placed on administrative leave after a prison inmate who was serving time for raping a young boy charged that the priest raped him in the 1970s and introduced him to the Rev. Paul Shanley , who also allegedly raped him. Shanley was convicted in 2005 of child rape.

Curran was one of a small number of accused priests who strongly and publicly denied sexual misconduct charges against them. He told the Globe in a telephone interview in January 2003 that "none of it is true. " He said he did not know either his accuser or Shanley, who is serving a 12- to 15-year sentence for rape and sexual abuse of children.

At that time Curran stressed his long service at five parishes and his ministries to prisoners and disabled children, lamenting that "now some psychopath from a prison gets me thrown out" of the ministry. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The archdiocesan announcement said Curran, who has suffered heart ailments, has been removed from administrative leave and placed in permanent disability status. Though all complaints against him were found to be unsubstantiated, the archdiocese said, "nonetheless Father Curran's ministry will be restricted to sacramental celebrations with members of his family."

Kelly Lynch of the archdiocese's public relations firm said the reason for that restriction would not be disclosed, and that Curran is able to seek permission from the archdiocese to perform ministry for persons outside his family.

Hudson Police Chief Richard A. Braga , a member of St. Michael Parish in Hudson, where Curran was serving when the accusations were made, said the exoneration "is fortunate for him and . . . the church. I'm sure the parishioners will be very happy to hear it."