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Church Uncovers File on Shanley NAMBLA Activity

Apr 25, 2002 | The Boston Herald In the latest example of the Boston archdiocese's chaotic record-keeping on problem priests, church officials acknowledged yesterday their discovery of new records detailing allegations of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley's involvement in NAMBLA - the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

The documents, part of a larger group a judge earlier this month ordered turned over to Roderick MacLeish, a lawyer representing several alleged victims of Shanley, were located late last week by an unnamed archdiocesean staff member, the Rev. Christopher Coyne, said an archdiocesan spokesman.

``It's terribly embarrassing at this late date to come out and say this,'' Coyne said in addressing reporters on the lawn of the Brighton Chancery.

``No one knew that the files were around,'' Coyne said. ``It wasn't just one letter that was overlooked. It's another bad thing. It makes us look like we are not being honest. It's just awful.''

The Shanley file released to date - more than 800 pages of secret records - detailed the priest's long history of alleged sexual misconduct, and, on some pages, his admissions of the actions.

But more damning were numerous documents revealing that Bernard Cardinal Law, his predecessor, Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, and other archdiocesean officials were aware of Shanley's behavior as far back as 1967, but continued to assign him to posts that put him in direct contact with children.

Coyne appeared visibly angry as he revealed the discovery of the documents, saying there is no question now that there had been numerous written complaints made in past years to chancery officials about Shanley's behavior.

MacLeish, who will receive the papers today, said he was furious with the discovery.

``If they're NAMBLA materials, as they say they are, then it's absolutely appalling. I can't believe it,'' he said, adding that he intends to investigate how the documents were missed.

``We are taking the deposition of (the church officials) involved in this document retrieval. The truth will have to come out,'' he said.

In the initial document release three weeks ago, records showed that Shanley spoke in favor of sex between men and boys at a December 1978 Boston convention that led to the founding of the intergenerational sex advocacy organization.

But a Shanley supporter who organized the meeting and later co-founded NAMBLA insists that it has been mischaracterized, and that many different points of view on the subject were presented.

``It certainly was not some kind of a man-boy group,'' said the man, who goes by the pseudonym of Socrates.

``There were social workers, psychiatrists, ministers and even law enforcement personnel. At that time, these issues could be discussed in an objective forum. You can't do that now.''

More germane to the accusations of MacLeish's clients is Socrates' contention that it would have been totally out of character for Shanley to have had violent sex with a 6-year-old.

In his suit and in a criminal complaint to Newton police, Gregory Ford, 24, claims that Shanley yanked him out of CCD classes and repeatedly fondled and raped him as a child in the rectory of Newton's St. Jean's Parish for six years beginning in 1984. ``I don't believe it, based on what I know of him,'' Socrates said, insisting that the priest would never have had sex with a pre-pubescent boy. ``I don't believe he ever did anything by force.''

MacLeish vehemently disputed that, saying, ``They say he wasn't violent. That's absolute total nonsense.''

``I have a forcible rape case against Paul Shanley from 1990 involving a 13-year-old. This notion that you're either interested in pedophilia or ephebophilia (sex with teens) is absolute nonsense,'' MacLeish charged.

MacLeish also said Ford and a second alleged victim, Paul Busa, who attended the classes with Ford but hasn't seen him in years, could not have collaborated to fabricate their allegations.

``NAMBLA has as much credibility on this as Ken Lay does on suggestions to reform Enron,'' MacLeish said.

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