The letters began with an affectionate greeting “Dear Brown Eyes” and contained proclamations of love and what appeared to be references to intimate moments.
But years later, when the Rev. Richard McQuade denied having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy, church officials decided the allegations could not be substantiated.
They allowed him to work as part of a group of priests used when regularly assigned priests were unavailable. They also recommended that he receive psychotherapy.
“In your situation the Review Board and the Delegate have decided that there is no reasonable probability that sexual misconduct occurred,” Cardinal Bernard Law wrote in a letter to McQuade in 1996.
The accusation was brought in 1996 by the father of a man who allegedly had a relationship with McQuade beginning when he was a teenage parishioner at St. Mark Parish in Dorchester.
After the man was killed in a car accident on his way to McQuade’s home in Scituate in 1992, his father brought archdiocese officials more than 30 letters McQuade had written to his son in 1982 and 1983, when the son was a student at St. John Seminary College.
McQuade said he and the young man were “very good friends” and “emotionally involved at times,” but he denied having a sexual relationship with him.
McQuade’s personnel file was one of two made public Monday by lawyers who are suing the archdiocese on behalf of people who claim they were sexually abused by priests as children.
“I do not understand how the Review Board could make a determination like that, given the letters in Father McQuade’s file,” said attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr.
The Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said McQuade, now 72, has been ill in recent years and has not participated in active ministry. Coyne would not comment on the allegation made against McQuade.
The other file contained church records pertaining to the Rev. Allan Roche, who was accused of molesting his niece.
Roche denied the allegation, which was made in 1992, more than 30 years after Roche’s niece says she was sexually abused by Roche between the ages of 5 and 12. The woman told archdiocese officials that the abuse ranged from oral sex to intercourse.
Roche vehemently denied the allegations. In 1993, the church review board recommended that he be allowed to say Mass in a parish while living on his own as a retired priest, but said he could not socialize or stay overnight in a parish.
The final document in Roche’s personnel file said he later admitted to the allegation and participated in a financial settlement in the case. Roche died in 1997.