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Spotlight Report

Priest, 72, placed on leave

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 1/18/2003

The Rev. Paul J. McLaughlin, a 72-year-old retired priest living in California, has been placed on administrative leave because of an allegation of sexual abuse, the Archdiocese of Boston announced yesterday.

A spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernadino, where McLaughlin had been living and saying occasional Masses, said that though the allegation was reported to Boston in May, they were not told of it until September.

''We were disappointed,'' said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the San Bernadino diocese. ''We were put in the untenable position of explaining how a priest from another jurisdiction could be residing in our diocese with an allegation against him, and we didn't know about it.''

It is the second time Boston failed to alert San Bernadino about a problem priest.

The Rev. Paul R. Shanley, who faces criminal and civil charges of sexually abusing children, transferred to San Bernadino in 1990. At the time, the Boston archdiocese offered assurances to church officials there that there were no allegations against him. In June, Cardinal Bernard F. Law apologized to the San Bernadino bishop.

California learned about the allegation against McLaughlin last fall when it requested paperwork from Boston confirming that he was priest in good standing. A Boston church official called to tell San Bernadino about the allegation, which allegedly involved abuse of a minor male in the 1960s, said Lincoln.

A Boston spokesperson could not be reached to explain why it was announced only yesterday.

Matt Carroll can be reached at mcarroll@globe.com.

This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 1/18/2003.
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