Documents: Church Knew About Shanley

CAMBRIDGE, Mass (AP) — An attorney for alleged victims of an accused pedophile priest said a new batch of personnel records released by the Boston Archdiocese represents ``the strongest statement to date'' that church leaders knew how dangerous the priest had become.

Attorney Roderick MacLeish on Tuesday cited one of the documents in which a church official concluded that the Rev. Paul Shanley should no longer serve as a priest.

The Rev. John McCormack, in the 1994 memo summarizing a psychiatrist's report, said that Shanley's problems ``cannot be reversed'' and that his ``pathology is beyond repair.''

The records had been sought by the family of Gregory Ford, 24, who claims in a lawsuit that Shanley repeatedly raped him when he was a boy. Ford has sued Cardinal Bernard Law, accusing the cardinal of negligence in failing to protect him from Shanley, now 71 and retired.

Shanley has pleaded innocent to three criminal charges of child rape.

Records released earlier this year showed the archdiocese knew of abuse claims against Shanley as far back as 1967 and that he had spoken out in favor of sex between men and boys, but did little more than transfer him from parish to parish.

The 50 new documents center on correspondence written after Shanley had moved to California in 1990, with a recommendation from the archdiocese. Several years later, officials were discussing whether to try to return him to Boston for psychiatric treatment.

In 1995, a memo from the Rev. Brian M. Flatley said the archdiocese had acknowledged two years earlier that Shanley had a ``history of aberrant sexual involvements.''

The records released Tuesday also contain a letter the same year in which Shanley refers to his own alleged sexual abuse as a ``teen-ager, and, later as a seminarian by a priest.''

Church officials in the Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., have complained they were never warned about Shanley. Similar complaints have emerged from his former Newton parish, where he served from 1983 to 1990.

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 of Shanley's records should have remained private, and that he hadn't waived his right to privacy by submitting them to the archdiocese.

The release of the latest documents came as The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that Law also failed to warn others about the ``improper conduct'' of the former dean of St. John's Seminary.

Law recommended the Rev. George C. Berthold for a teaching job at a Catholic college in North Carolina in 1997, just two years after the cardinal had dismissed him for kissing a 19-year-old seminarian.

Berthold taught at Belmont Abbey in Belmont, N.C., until 1998 when the Boston archdiocese withdrew its letter of approval without reason.

In other developments:

—Police in Cheyenne, Wyo., have begun investigating retired Bishop Joseph Hart for alleged sexual abuse more than 25 years ago, according to Hart's attorney. ``I welcome this investigation because I want to put an end to these false allegations,'' Hart said in a statement.

—New York's Cardinal Edward Egan has agreed to report sexual abuse allegations directly to prosecutors, rather than wait for an advisory panel of church officials and laity to review complaints, as had been the previous policy.

—The Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., was sued by five more people claiming they were sexually abused as youths by priests and that the church concealed the misconduct. The filings bring to 54 the total lawsuits against the archdiocese since April 19.