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San Bernardino Diocese Bans Visiting Priest Accused of Sex Abuse

Jan 14, 2003 | AP

A Roman Catholic priest facing allegations of sexual abuse in Boston and who once served part-time at a San Bernardino County church has been banned from further ministry here, diocese officials said.

The Rev. Paul McLaughlin, 72, has not been accused of molestation while in San Bernardino. However, last May, he was accused of having molested a boy in Boston in the 1960s a month before his ministry in San Bernardino ended.

Boston church officials did not tell their counterparts in San Bernardino about the accusation until September.

"We sent a letter to Boston expressing our disappointment we had not been told of the May allegation earlier," said The Rev. Howard Lincoln, a spokesman for Bishop Gerald R. Barnes.

"We said to them, this put us again in the untenable position of explaining why a priest from another diocese who had received a serious allegation was residing in our diocese."

McLaughlin worked part time from the fall of 2001 until April 2002 at St. Francis of La Quinta Church in La Quinta, and he ministered one Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert. He may also have served in other parishes in the Coachella Valley, but a diocesan spokesman said he could not immediately name them.

The San Bernardino diocese has not yet directly informed the parishes where McLaughlin served of the accusations against him. Instead, the diocese has placed a notice on its Web site, saying that three visiting priests, including McLaughlin, did not have the "necessary faculties" to minister in the diocese. The notice offered no explanation.

The parishes had not been directly informed because the Boston archdiocese had not yet told McLaughlin of the sexual abuse allegation against him, Lincoln said.

Last year, San Bernardino officials discovered that Paul Shanley, a priest who had been sent to them from Boston in 1990, had been accused of molesting boys. Boston officials had not informed the San Bernardino diocese about Shanley's past.

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