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Spotlight Report

Accuser denies he meant to hurt priest

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff, 3/30/2002

Garry M. Garland asserted yesterday that he drove to the Chelsea residence of a Catholic priest he has accused of molesting him in order to obtain a two-page confession that Garland said he was told the priest has written.

''I thought, if I could get the confession and get it out to the public, all of this would end,'' said Garland.

Though police said a meat cleaver was found in Garland's car after he was arrested yesterday, Garland insisted that he never intended to hurt Monsignor Frederick J. Ryan or to lead police on a car chase into nearby Everett.

Garland said his abrupt decision to confront Ryan was motivated in part by emotions aroused by a death threat he received on his cellphone and by frustration that plans for a confession he was told Ryan would make to WBZ-TV reporter Dan Rea had fallen through.

But it is not clear that Garland's assumptions about the confession or the interview were correct. Attempts yesterday to reach Ryan and his lawyer were unavailing.

Garland, a 38-year-old Hanover man and former star athlete at Catholic Memorial High School, said two persons have told him that Ryan has written a two-page typed admission that he abused Garland. Neither Garland nor his lawyer, Houston lawyer Daniel J. Shea, have seen the purported document, nor would they identify who told Garland of its possible existence.

''It's secondhand to me; it's hearsay,'' Shea said. ''I've not seen it.''

Rea said that although he is attempting to interview Ryan and other church officials, including Cardinal Bernard F. Law, he has no agreement to interview Ryan.

''I don't know what other people might have said to Garry,'' Rea said. ''There's no one in the world who could say I have done an interview, or that I have an agreement to do an interview.''

Garland said he had been led to expect the interview through Chris Nilan, a former professional hockey player who, like Garland, attended Catholic Memorial High School and played hockey there.

Both men met Ryan at the West Roxbury high school: Nilan when Ryan was resident chaplain there and Garland when Ryan served as an informal adviser to students while he was vice chancellor of the Boston Archdiocese.

Rea, who is also a lawyer and a sports agent, represented Nilan through most of his career with the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. He said he also advised Garland when he signed a minor-league hockey contract.

Yesterday, Nilan said he has been in touch with both Garland and Ryan in the week since Garland filed a lawsuit accusing Ryan of sexually molesting him. Three days after filing the suit against Ryan, Garland said for the first time that the late Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros had groped him on the night Ryan molested him. That charge, which was denounced by Cardinal Law as ''character assassination,'' has not been added to Garland's suit.

''I've had private conversations with both of them, which I am not at liberty to discuss with anybody, because I will not betray either party,'' Nilan said of Ryan and Garland.

Nilan declined to say whether he contributed to Garland's belief that Ryan has admitted to molesting Garland.

Shea, Garland's lawyer, said Nilan has been acting as a liaison between Ryan and Garland and between Ryan and David Carney. Carney is a Hyde Park man and another former Catholic Memorial student and hockey player who says he was abused by Ryan.

On Thursday, Shea alerted Chelsea police that Garland was driving to the home where Ryan was staying. When Garland arrived and disobeyed an order to stop, police chased him for several blocks, subdued him, and charged him with disorderly conduct and three motor vehicle violations.

Police said Garland was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital and, later, to McLean Hospital after they found a meat cleaver on the front seat of his car and after Garland told an arresting officer, ''I wish you shot me.''

Garland said yesterday he had bought the cleaver as a birthday present for his wife. A law enforcement source said Garland was released from McLean last night and returned to Chelsea police, where he made $2,500 bail pending arraignment Monday on disorderly conduct and motor vehicle charges in Chelsea District Court.

Meanwhile, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he had recused himself from the Ryan case and asked Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley to determine whether the allegations against Ryan fall within the criminal statute of limitations.

Conley said he did so because as an alumnus of Catholic Memorial High School he had come to know both Ryan and Garland.

Michael Rezendes can be reached at

Matt Carroll, Steven Wilmsen, and Kevin Cullen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 3/30/2002.
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