Priest sitting next to Whitey Bulger in photo was defrocked for sexually abusing boys

A man wearing clerical garb while sitting next to notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger in a photo released by Bulger’s lawyers was identified today as the former vice chancellor of the Boston archdiocese, Frederick J. Ryan, who was defrocked by Rome for allegedly sexually abusing teenage boys in the 1980s.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented two former Catholic Memorial High School students who successfully sued the archdiocese in 2002 over the abuse, confirmed today that the man is Ryan.

“Given Whitey Bulger’s lack of respect for humanity, it comes as no surprise that Whitey Bulger is associated with a serial pedophile such as Fred Ryan,’’ Garabedian said.

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Ryan was defrocked by the Vatican in 2006. Ryan was accused of taking two Catholic Memorial students to the chancery where he lived, then located in Brighton, and molesting them.

When Ryan was defrocked, he was the highest-ranking priest to be dismissed since the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in 2002.

Ryan was ordained in 1964, and served in churches in Holliston and Hyde Park and at the chancery from 1974 to 1995, where he served under Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was then the leader of the Boston archdiocese.

On the website created in the wake of the clergy abuse scandal, the Boston archiocese lists Ryan in the category of priests who faced allegations of abusing children, and whose cases were resolved through “laicization,” commonly known as defrocking.

According to a statement issued by Catholic Memorial today, Ryan was appointed chaplain in 1971, a post he left in 1974 to become vice chancellor for the archdiocese. Ryan’s formal ties to the West Roxbury high school ended in 1974, but Garabedian said Ryan met his two victims through informal contacts with the high school’s athletic programs.

[An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the abuse took place at Catholic Memorial.]

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