The Rev. Paul Shanley, a notorious figure in the Roman Catholic sexual-abuse scandal, was sued Thursday by a Big Bear Lake man who says the priest molested him and pimped him to other men.
Kevin English, 30, who filed the lawsuit in San Bernardino Superior Court, included Shanley, the Diocese of San Bernardino, the Archdiocese of Boston, Boston Cardinal Bernard F. Law, bishops Robert J. Banks and John B. McCormack and former San Bernardino Bishop Phillip F. Straling.
Two unnamed Palm Springs resorts were also included in the lawsuit as places where English said most of the sexual abuse occurred.
Shanley co-owned the Whispering Palms resort in Palm Springs with another priest. That priest is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, but not by name.
English’s Riverside-based lawyers William Light and Todd Rash are not allowed to reveal the names of the defendants until a judge orders that they can do so.
Although the lawsuit does not specifically name anyone accused of conspiring or covering up sexual abuse, it’s clear from references throughout the court papers who is being sued.
The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, said he could not comment on the lawsuit because he has not seen it.
Representatives for the Archdiocese of Boston, Law, the bishops being sued and the owner of the Palm Springs resorts could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
English’s court papers describe Shanley as a renegade priest as far back as 1989 when he refused to sign a canonical oath at Law’s request.
The canonical oath is an allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church’s religious and governing codes.
The lawsuit says Shanley had been employed for decades by the Boston Archdiocese even though he had an extensive history of disagreement with official church teachings on homosexuality and had been the target of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.
Shanley, 71, is awaiting trial on charges of child rape in Massachusetts and has pleaded not guilty.
In November 1989, Shanley resigned as a parish priest and asked Law for a recommendation letter acknowledging his loyalty to Catholic doctrine through the canonical oath even though he never took it, the lawsuit says.
Law directed Banks, who was then a priest of the archdiocese, to issue a written recommendation to the Diocese of San Bernardino so that Shanley could work at St. Anne Catholic Church in San Bernardino as a fill-in priest, the lawsuit says.
Banks’ recommendation letter said Shanley was a priest in good standing and posed no problems that would be of concern to the Diocese of San Bernardino, even though he had knowledge that Shanley advocated sex between men and boys, the lawsuit says.
Banks is now bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis..
Law, who stepped down as archbishop of Boston last month, has since apologized to the Diocese of San Bernardino for allowing Banks to recommend Shanley.
Although the Diocese of San Bernardino said it did not know of Shanley’s past, former Bishop Straling is accused of negligence in English’s lawsuit.
Straling left the Diocese of San Bernardino in 1995 and now heads the Diocese of Reno, Nev.
In March 1990, Shanley began celebrating Masses at St. Anne and at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Big Bear Lake and had moved to a Palm Springs resort that catered to a gay clientele.
A month later, English said Shanley approached him after Easter services at St. Joseph and later seduced him in the rectory.
English said that at the time that he was a vulnerable 17-year-old suffering from a psychological disorder and had previously been hospitalized because of it.
“(Shanley)abused the moral and religious authority he held by molesting(English) at the Big Bear parish rectory and subsequently at the San Bernardino parish rectory,’ the lawsuit says.
Most of the sexual contact occurred at the two Palm Springs resorts, one of which was co-owned by Shanley and unnamed priest,the lawsuit says.
English accuses Shanley of directing him to engage in sexual contact with other men at the resort while Shanley and the co-owner watched.
“Defendants failed to supervise(Shanley) and or their employees, agents or guests on their property so as to prevent the repeated molestation and sexual victimization of (English) while on their premises,’ the lawsuit says.
English also sued McCormack, now head of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. He alleges that McCormack was responsible for supervising Shanley on behalf of the Archdiocese of Boston.
In 1991, the lawsuit says, McCormack visited Shanley while he was staying at the resorts as part of an effort to supervise him.
However, English said the sexual abuse continued until he was 21 years old.
In a Dec. 16 interview with The Sun, English said Shanley continued to emotionally abuse him until 2002, sending him e-mail telling him to keep his mouth shut about their relationship and telling him to lose weight so that he could be more attractive.
English said he lost his virginity and dignity to Shanley, a man he called the “master of deceit.’
“You would never know he was full of evil,’ English said.