When three of Chris Nilan’s friends said they had been molested by the same trusted Roman Catholic priest who had performed Nilan’s wedding, the former professional hockey star wanted to know the truth.
So Nilan confronted the priest, Monsignor Frederick J. Ryan, and asked if the allegations were true. That discussion was recounted in sworn testimony filed Monday as part of a lawsuit against Ryan and the archdiocese.
“I needed some answers for my own sanity,” said Nilan. “Having done confession with him before, I had to hold him to supposedly what his morals and values of the church were.”
According to Nilan, Ryan admitted that he abused the three boys during a trip to Rhode Island two decades ago. Ryan also allegedly admitted that he had maintained a sexual relationship with one of the victims up until three years ago.
Lawyers for Ryan and the archdiocese did not immediately return calls for comment Monday. Ryan was pastor of a church in Kingston and oversaw 16 parishes when the charges arose; he is currently suspended.
Nilan’s deposition was taken in June as part of a lawsuit brought by one of Ryan’s alleged victims.
Nilan’s lawyer, Francis J. DiMento Jr., said his client “really didn’t want to be involved in this” but understood his legal responsibility to testify. DiMento said it was unlikely that Nilan would comment on the deposition now.
Ryan was a chaplain at a Boston parochial school where Nilan and one of the victims both played hockey, though they were nine years apart. Ryan was vice chancellor under Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, making him the highest-ranking Boston archdiocese official accused of sex abuse since the wave of allegations against priests began this year.
Nilan played in the National Hockey League for 13 years, 10 with the Montreal Canadiens. He also played for the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.
“I needed some answers for my own sanity. Having done confession with him before, I had to hold him to supposedly what his morals and values of the church were.”
Also Monday, Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte said retired priest Paul M. Desilets, who was indicted on 32 counts of indecent assault and battery, had been arrested in Joliette, Quebec.
Prosecutors allege Desilets abused 18 former altar boys between 1978 and 1984 at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Bellingham. Conte requested the priest’s extradition in August. Desilets was to be arraigned in Canada Tuesday.
Desilets had refused recent requests for comment but in February told The Associated Press allegations against him were “exaggerated.”