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Most Shanley's medical records ordered to be made public
By Ron DePasquale, Associated Press, 5/14/02
CAMBRIDGE, Mass -- The Boston archdiocese had psychiatric evidence that retired priest Paul Shanley's was "damaged ... beyond repair" but allowed him access to students, documents released Tuesday showed.
Attorney Roderick MacLeish, representing the priest's alleged victims, called it "the strongest statement to date" that the archdiocese knew how dangerous Shanley was and should have warned others.
Also on Tuesday, MacLeish said he had filed an affidavit claiming that a woman in 1961 had told the archdiocese and Stoneham police that her son had been molested by Shanley, only a year after he had been ordained. MacLeish did not release the affidavit.
Documents had previously indicated the archdiocese knew about Shanley's problems as far back as 1967, but did little more than transfer him from parish to parish.
The documents were released Tuesday after a Middlesex Superior Court judge ordered they be made public. On Monday, another judge ordered the documents be turned over to MacLeish.
An earlier round of documents, which revealed the Newton priest's endorsement of man-boy sex, made Shanley, 71, a central figure in the sex abuse scandal engulfing the Boston Archdiocese. Shanley also faces three criminal counts of child rape.
The new documents center around correspondence written after Shanley had moved to California in 1990, with a recommendation from the archdiocese. Years later, officials were discussing whether to try to return him to Boston for psychiatric treatment.
In a 1994 memo, Rev. John B. McCormack reported that Shanley's problems "cannot be reversed." He had called Shanley a "sick person" in 1991, according to previously released documents.
Shanley had served in a Newton parish from 1983 to 1990, and MacLeish said parishioners were never asked if Shanley caused them harm.
"They never went back to Newton where he'd been three years earlier" to offer help, MacLeish said. "This significantly helps our case because they did have an obligation to go back."
In 1995, Shanley went to the Leo House in New York, a house for students, travelers and clergy, and became acting director. Cardinal Bernard Law penned an endorsement letter for him to be promoted to executive director, though it was stamped "not sent."
In 1996, Law wrote Shanley a congratulatory letter informing his sick leave status had ended. "For thirty years in assigned ministry you brought God's Word and His love to His people and I know that continues to be your goal despite some difficult limitations," Law said.
Summarizing findings from a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist, Ned Cassem, McCormack wrote on Aug. 30, 1994 that Shanley "cannot do any kind of ministry."
"How do we protect others from him," he said. "Could he be laicized? What is important is that he does not practice as a priest."
He continued, "The conclusion was that it seems okay to let him live in California at Palm Springs. However the Bishop should be informed about his presence and his inability to carry out any priestly ministry. The Bishop should be asked if it is permissible to allow him to live there."
Church officials in the Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif. have complained they were never warned about Shanley.
Other new documents include:
-- A 1995 memo from the Rev. Brian M. Flatley that revealed the archdiocese acknowledged two years prior that Shanley had a "history of aberrant sexual involvements." It also states four young men had complained to the archdiocese about Shaley.
-- A 1994 memo from McCormack, saying Shanley's "personality and pathology do not offer much hope for improvement."
-- A 1995 letter in which Shanley refers to his own alleged sexual abuse as a "teen-ager, and, later as a seminarian by a priest."
Lawyers for the archdiocese had no comment after Tuesday's hearing.
During the hearing, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond Brassard said, "The interest of the public having access to this matter outweighs the privacy concerns and makes appropriate public access."
The judge did not allow three pages to be made public, agreeing to hear further arguments from Shanley's attorney, Frank Mondano, that they should remain private. Mondano argued that all Shanley's records should have remained private, and that he hadn't waived his right to privacy by submitting them to the archdiocese, as another judge ruled Monday.
MacLeish believes that archdiocese officials are still withholding key documents about Shanley and their knowledge of his sexual history.
"We intend to get to the bottom of this," MacLeish said. "This is a search for the truth. No one will give up until it comes out."
The father of one of Shanley's alleged victims compared Law to a magician.
"He makes the records appear and disappear whenever he wants," said Rodney Ford of Newton, whose son, Gregory, 24, has filed a lawsuit accusing Shanley of repeatedly raping him when he was a boy.
© Copyright 2002 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing Inc.