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Spotlight Report

Abuse charges brought against former vice chancellor

Monsignor from Kingston named in suit

By Michael Rezendes , Globe Staff, 3/22/2002

KINGSTON - As a senior at Catholic Memorial High School in 1983, Garry M. Garland seemed to have it all. A popular student and a star athlete in baseball, football, and hockey, Garland was headed to the University of Maine at Orono on a full scholarship.

But Garland also harbored a dark secret, according to a lawsuit he filed yesterday: When he was about 14 years old, a vice chancellor of the Boston archdiocese allegedly sexually molested him in his living quarters at the chancery, the Archdiocese of Boston headquarters in Brighton.

In the suit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Garland says he was orally raped by then-vice chancellor Frederick J. Ryan after Ryan encouraged him to become intoxicated at a North End restaurant. According to the lawsuit and interviews with Garland, Ryan then drove Garland to the chancery. Once there, he introduced Garland to the late Cardinal Humberto Medeiros and then took Garland to his room and sexually assaulted him.

Monsignor Ryan, who is now pastor of St. Joseph Church in Kingston, and oversees 16 South Shore parishes, acknowledged yesterday that he knew Garland. But in a brief interview at the parish, he declined to comment on the allegations.

Asked if he had sexually abused Garland, Ryan replied: ''I don't think that's a fair question. Let me find out what this is about.''

Two hours later, when offered a second opportunity to address Garland's charges, Ryan declined to comment.

With the lawsuit, Ryan becomes the highest-ranking official of the archdiocese to be accused of sexually molesting a minor.

Donna M. Morrissey, the spokeswoman for Cardinal Bernard F. Law, said last night that Ryan will be placed on administrative leave while the archdiocese investigates Garland's allegations, in accordance with a ''zero tolerance policy'' for church officials credibly accused of sexually molesting minors.

Morrissey also said church officials ''are mindful of the rights of the accused priest, and any action taken in the course of our investigation should not be construed as a conviction of the priest.''

The cardinal, after saying in January that he didn't know of any priest on assignment in the archdiocese who had molested children, removed 10 priests - four of them pastors - in February, after determining that there were credible allegations against them.

Garland, in interviews with the Globe and in his lawsuit, said that after arriving at the chancery with Ryan on a Saturday evening in about 1979, he received a hug from Medeiros and was then guided by Ryan to Ryan's room, where the walls were covered with ''hundreds of photographs'' of student-athletes.

Ryan then provided Garland with more wine and persuaded him to get undressed - ostensibly so Ryan could photograph a tattoo on Garland's hip - and then molested ''a fairly well intoxicated'' Garland, the lawsuit says.

According to records published by the archdiocese, Ryan was the resident chaplain at Catholic Memorial High School in the early 1970s. After serving as vice chancellor of the archdiocese for two decades he was named pastor at St. Joseph in 1997 and became a monsignor a year later.

In his lawsuit, Garland says Ryan blackmailed him for many years, refusing to turn over photographs he took of Garland that night at the chancery. For example, using the Alleged photos as leverage, Ryan insisted that Garland and his fiancee scrap plans to use another priest for their 1992 marriage and let him officiate instead. Garland said he reluctantly went along.

Minutes before the wedding, according to the lawsuit, Ryan approached Garland in the church sacristy, groped Garland, and attempted to kiss him.

Garland, in an interview, said he had long been frightened because Ryan had the photos. But he said he decided to file suit and break his silence to protect other potential victims.

''The reason I'm stepping up is I don't want this to happen to anyone else,'' said Garland, who is married with four children. ''I have four little ones myself.''

Ryan started his career in 1964 as a parish priest at St. Mary Church in Holliston. A year later he moved to Most Precious Blood Church in Hyde Park. From 1971 through 1974, he was the resident chaplain at Catholic Memorial.

Even after Ryan was named vice chancellor and moved into the Brighton chancery on Commonwealth Avenue, he continued an informal association with Catholic Memorial, spending much of his time there with student-athletes.

Ryan, in a 1983 letter to the director of admissions of Bowdoin College written on Garland's behalf, said, ''I have, since my present assignment, assisted in the football and basketball programs and been a counselor to individual boys in specific needs.''

Garland provided the Globe with a copy of the letter.

Brother James MacDonald, the president of the high school, which is run by the Christian Brothers, said in an interview this week that he had checked school records and that there had not been a single allegation of sexual abuse against a priest or a brother since the school opened in 1957.

During the 21 years Ryan served as a vice chancellor - first under Medeiros and then under Law - Ryan lived at the chancery, a three-story building of offices and a handful of apartments on the same grounds as the cardinal's residence and St. John Seminary.

Garland finished college at Westfield State, played professional hockey, and built a successful career in sales with several high-technology companies. But Garland, who said he never forgot the alleged molestations by Ryan, was also consistently troubled by bouts of drinking and drug use and outbursts of violence.

In 1984, while attending the University of Massachusetts in Boston, Garland was charged as an accessory to murder after he and a Northeastern University student were involved in an early morning melee with four Boston College students near BC's Chestnut Hill campus. One of the BC students was killed after he was struck with an auto jack stand. Garland, who was not accused of delivering the fatal blow, was sentenced to five years probation.

''Everyone knew there was something wrong with me,'' Garland said in an interview. ''I was good. I was bad. I was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.''

Garland said that only recently, during treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse at a Nevada clinic, did he associate his substance abuse and depression with Ryan's alleged sexual molestations.

Said Garland: ''I want to tell everyone, if this happend to you, come forward. Don't allow this to happen to other kids.''

Matt Carroll of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

This story ran on page A26 of the Boston Globe on 3/22/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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