Diocese Records Show More CoverupsSep 13, 2002 | The Boston Globe
Bishop Thomas V. Daily matter-of-factly recorded for church files the 1981 arrest of a priest for lewd conduct in a public restroom at a Sears department store, and how the priest then contacted a friendly judge. Soon afterward the charge was dropped - against the priest, the Rev. George J. Rosenkranz, but not against the man with whom he was arrested.
The same year, when a Waltham family complained to Daily that their son had been molested by the Rev. Robert V. Gale - two years after Gale had been removed from a Quincy parish for the same offense - Daily wrote down several options, which ranged from another transfer to leaving Gale in place.
He chose the latter, writing the family, ''I assure you that decisions are made for the good of God's people as God gives me the grace to make them.''
Eleven years later, Gale was the subject of fresh allegations that he molested a boy at Camp Fatima, a church-run camp in New Hampshire.
In more than 200 pages of new documents about five accused priests made public yesterday, there was fresh evidence that defrocked priest John J. Geoghan's kid-glove treatment by the Boston Archdiocese was not unusual.
The new documents paint a particularly unflattering picture of Daily, who is now the bishop of the Brooklyn-Queens Diocese in New York. Daily, the records show, played a key role in brushing aside accusations of sexual misconduct against Boston Archdiocese priests - priests then moved to new parishes and later suspended because of additional abuse complaints.
Daily, a Belmont native who served as a top Boston church official under the late Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros and under Cardinal Bernard F. Law, was named yesterday in a lawsuit filed by Gale's alleged Waltham victim. He had previously been named as a defendant in more than 50 lawsuits filed by alleged victims of Geoghan, who say that Daily, Law, and other church officials - including Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., a former top aide to Law - knew of Geoghan's molestations before giving him church assignments in which he had access to children.
Last month Gale pleaded not guilty to four counts of child rape after he was charged with repeatedly abusing the former Waltham altar boy who filed yesterday's suit. Rosenkranz is a defendant in at least two civil suits accusing him of sexually abusing minors.
Daily's notations about Rosenkranz came after a Sears security guard, in July 1981, caught Rosenkranz performing a lewd act in a men's room stall. The charges against Rosenkranz were dropped when he contacted a local judge, the late Augustus Gannon, who referred Rosenkranz to a friend, former State Representative Belden Bly Jr., for legal representation.
In a memo to the church file on Rosenkranz, Daily wrote that he had asked Rosenkranz about the incident and that the priest, upset and angry, had called it a matter of being in ''the wrong place at the wrong time.''
''In light of his protestation of innocence,'' Daily noted, ''I told him I would support him.'' He also wrote that Bly had told Rosenkranz ''not to worry - that everything would be alright - case would be dismissed.''
Reached yesterday, Bly said he never told Rosenkranz not to worry about the charges, and that he did not attempt to obtain special treatment for Rosenkranz. ''I was as surprised as anyone when the prosecution dropped the case,'' Bly said.
Essex District Attorney Kevin Burke said he has ''no memory at all'' of Rosenkranz's 1981 arrest. Burke said his office has never treated priests differently from other defendants.
In October 1989, Rosenkranz was arrested again, this time in a police raid of a highway parking lot, and charged with ''lewd conversation and indecent assault'' on an undercover police officer. In December 1989, Law placed Rosenkranz on sick leave. In 1993, despite his troubled history, Rosenkranz sought to return to active ministry - a request that was considered and denied. Rosenkranz, still on sick leave, could not be reached for comment.
The documents also contain information about allegations lodged in 1985 against the now defrocked Richard T. Coughlin. No action was taken on the complaints against him until 1994, after he had moved to Los Angeles and founded an internationally recognized boys' choir. Coughlin has since been accused of abuse by at least nine more men, all in California, some of whom have received settlements.
The documents made public yesterday were filed in connection with three civil lawsuits filed against Law by alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, who pleaded not guilty to child rape in May.
Roderick MacLeish Jr., one of the lawyers representing Shanley's alleged victims, said he has asked for the personnel files of approximately 100 priests whose names have been referred to criminal prosecutors because of sexual abuse allegations. MacLeish said the request is aimed at disproving Law's assertion, made publicly in May, that faulty record-keeping led to his decision to promote Shanley to pastor of a Newton parish and allow him to transfer to a San Bernardino, Calif., parish as a priest in good standing.
The latest release of documents shows that the church did keep detailed records in cases of abuse allegations against priests, MacLeish said.
The documents also contain information about two allegations against the Rev. John T. Atwater, a retired priest. The first of the two allegations made against Atwater in 1993, by MacLeish, who then represented a man who said he was molested by Atwater in 1971 when he was a 14-year-old resident at Cushing Hall, an archdiocesan home for troubled teenagers where Atwater was assigned at the time. But Atwater denied the allegation, and the archdiocese decided that the accusation had not been corroborated and allowed Atwater to remain in his parish.
In an interview with the Globe Jan. 27, Atwater again strenuously denied the 1993 allegation. Atwater's second accuser did not come forward until February.
The documents also show that archdiocesan officials were warned in 1995 and again in 2001 that another priest, the Rev. Joseph L. Welsh, abused children during two different parish assignments years earlier. But the records suggest church officials never asked Welsh about the allegations. In 1997, he was promoted to pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Abington.
In February, just before Welsh was removed as pastor, the Globe reported that Welsh had, over two decades, allegedly molested three boys in one family he became so friendly with that the parents named their youngest son after him. The family complained to the archdiocese, triggering the priest's suspension.
Brooklyn Diocese spokesman Frank DeRosa said Daily had no comment on the Gale and Rosenkranz files.