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Spotlight Report

Records: Priest admitted abuse

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff, 2/25/2003

She was 5 years old. She was the niece of the Rev. Allan E. Roche. And she was, during his regular visits to her home over the next seven years, his sexual victim.

In 1992, 35 years after the abuse began, the woman reported the abuse, which she said included oral sex and intercourse, to the Archdiocese of Boston. Roche denied it. It was her word against a priest's, and the church deemed the accusation unsubstantiated and took no action.

But records released yesterday show that church officials knew at the time about prior sexual misconduct by Roche, who had admitted to ''four or five relationships with women'' in Massachusetts and North Carolina, according to a July 1993 memo. Some of the women knew he was a priest; some of the relationships apparently took place before he was ordained.

Roche, before his death in 1997, admitted to having abused his niece and reached a financial settlement with her, church records show.

Roche's record was revealed in one of two priest personnel files made public yesterday by the Boston law firm Greenberg Traurig, which represents alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley in a lawsuit alleging negligent supervision by the archdiocese and Cardinal Bernard F. Law.

Records were also released on the Rev. Richard E. McQuade, who was reported to the archdiocese in 1996 by a man who found about 30 letters written by McQuade to his late son in the early 1980s, including several that were sexually suggestive. The man's son had died in a car accident in 1991.

The son was a 20-year-old seminarian when the letters were written, although the letters made reference to the relationship beginning when the boy was 17 and working at St. Mark's rectory in Dorchester. In several of the letters, McQuade addressed the boy as ''my dear brown eyes'' and concluded with, ''I love you.'' The letters ''clearly convey a sense of infatuation as well as some significant erotic invitation,'' according to a 1996 church memo.

Confronted by church officials, McQuade admitted to a ''very special relationship'' with the seminarian, but denied it was ever sexual. Asked about a letter in which he wrote, ''When you are here next time I would like to have or hold your tongue . . . that would be very warm and delicate,'' McQuade said it was meant to boost the seminarian's confidence for a public speech he had to give.

In 1996, the archdiocese's review board concluded the relationship was a ''one-time infatuation'' and allowed McQuade to continue working for the archdiocese's emergency response team, filling sudden vacancies.

The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said yesterday that McQuade has been on permanent disability for about two years due to a stroke.

Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at pfeiffer@globe.com

This story ran on page A13 of the Boston Globe on 2/25/2003.
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