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Court Demands Priest's Medical Records

May 13, 2002 | AP

The Boston Archdiocese was ordered Monday to immediately turn over psychiatric and medical records of the Rev. Paul Shanley, the retired priest who has been charged with raping a boy.

Middlesex Superior Court Justice Janet Sanders ruled that Shanley had waived any right to keep the records private when he turned them over to the archdiocese. A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday to determine whether the documents will be made public.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey declined comment. Shanley's attorney, Frank Mondano, did not immediately return a call.

Shanley, 71, is a central figure in the sex abuse scandal that has led to calls for Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation.

Church documents released earlier in the legal battle showed that archdiocese officials knew Shanley as early as 1967 had been accused of sexually abusing children but did little more than move him from parish to parish.

The archdiocese also did not warn California's Diocese of San Bernardino when Shanley moved there in 1990. Shanley retired in 1993.

The psychiatric and medical records had been sought by the family of Gregory Ford, 24, who claims Shanley repeatedly raped him when he was a boy. Ford has filed a civil lawsuit against Law, accusing the cardinal of negligence in failing to protect Ford.

Shanley had argued that the records should be withheld because they are protected by patient-doctor privilege. But the judge said he lost that protection when he turned over his medical records in the 1990s to an archdiocese review board.

The board assessed Shanley's "aberrant sexual conduct" and his request to receive permanent medical disability payments, the judge said.

"All of these documents are clearly relevant to show the relationship between the (archdiocese) and Shanley, and the defendant's knowledge of Shanley's activities and his state of health," Sanders ruled.

The judge noted that some records had lines blacked out and ordered clean copies to be issued if they existed.

Roderick MacLeish, attorney for the Fords, said he was delighted with the ruling.

"The court recognizes the enormous public interest and that the archdiocese is simply trying in every way to prevent the truth from coming out," MacLeish said. "But it's coming out in dribs and drabs, and even if it's by court order, it will come out."

Shanley has pleaded innocent to three charges of child rape. Prosecutors said he took the victim, now 24, out of religious education classes at St. John Parish in Newton and raped him in the rectory, the bathroom and the confessional, when the boy was 6 to 13.

Prosecutors have refused to comment on the identity of the victim. But a source close to the case has told The Associated Press that the charges stem from allegations made by Paul Busa, a former Air Force security officer in Colorado.

Busa publicly discussed the alleged abuse several times after filing a civil lawsuit in February but has not commented since the criminal charges were filed.

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