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Spotlight Report

Doctor's question among Shanley papers

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff, 5/15/2002

Three years before Cardinal Bernard F. Law said he would recommend the Rev. Paul R. Shanley as director of a New York City guest house, a psychiatrist familiar with Shanley's history of sexual abuse asked Boston church officials: ''How do we protect others from him?''

The psychiatrist, Edwin H. Cassem of Massachusetts General Hospital, also concluded that Shanley was ''so personally damaged that his pathology is beyond repair'' and questioned whether he should be laicized.

The psychiatrist's remarks, contained in an Aug. 30, 1994, memo written by Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., who was then one of Law's top deputies, were included among roughly 40 pages of documents released yesterday by the Boston archdiocese on Shanley, the former ''street priest'' now facing numerous allegations that he sexually molested boys during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.

The additional documents shed little new light on Shanley's case. Several of the letters and memos had already been made public when church officials turned over 1,600 pages of records from Shanley's personnel file last month.

Shanley, who was arrested May 2 in San Diego, faces three counts of child rape on charges that he sexually abused a former Newton man, Paul Busa, from 1983 to 1990, beginning when Busa was 6. The archdiocese has come under fire for allowing Shanley to continue as a parish priest in Newton and California despite knowing of allegations against him.

Included in the file are several letters from Shanley to Boston church officials in which he complains of his failing health and precarious financial situation.

At one point, Shanley wrote that he had been reduced to cleaning hotel rooms to earn extra money - work made difficult, he said, by a hernia that prevented him from bending over. And in a handwritten letter dated March 1, 1994, Shanley described himself as so bereft that even his own lawyer, Boston attorney Timothy O'Neill, wouldn't return his calls.

Last month, the archdiocese turned over more than 1,600 pages of documents on Shanley but withheld others, including medical and psychiatric records, on the grounds that they were exempt from disclosure.

But on Friday, Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders ordered the archdiocese to turn over all of Shanley's records immediately, ruling that Shanley waived his privacy rights when he shared his medical records with church officials.

The Globe has previously reported that church files contain a draft of a 1997 letter written by Law recommending Shanley for the director's position at Leo House, a New York City guest house, although New York Cardinal John O'Connor vetoed the idea and the letter was never sent.

Meanwhile, Superior Court Judge Raymond J. Brassard denied the Globe's request to be present during Law's deposition in the Shanley case, which is scheduled to begin June 5 and expected to last three days.

This story ran on page A18 of the Boston Globe on 5/15/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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