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Spotlight Report

Files of wrong priest released

By Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff, 12/12/2002

The Rev. Richard L. Ahern left the priesthood in 1991 with his reputation intact. Yesterday, records produced by the archdiocese suggested - erroneously - that Ahern, a diocesan priest, had been accused of child molestation.

Ahern's records were intermingled with the official file on a Stigmatine priest, the late Rev. Richard J. Ahern, who had faced accusations of sexual molestation of a minor.

To further compound the error, archdiocesan officials who compiled the records, in response to a court order, also included in the Stigmatine priest's file a single page from the records of yet another diocesan priest, the Rev. Richard F. Ahearn. Ahearn is now retired.

It is the second time that such a mix-up occurred as the archdiocese has turned over thousands of pages of records to attorneys for alleged victims of clergy abuse.

The archdiocese mistakenly included the files of the Rev. James D. Foley when it turned over to lawyers for alleged victims of sexual abuse the files of the Rev. James J. Foley, who has been accused of sexual molestation.

It turned out, however, that Rev. James D. Foley had been caught up in a scandal of a different sort: The records mistakenly handed over showed that he had fathered two children in the 1960s by a woman who subsequently died of an overdose with Foley present. When those documents became public last week, the Rev. James D. Foley was removed from his parish assignment in Salem.

Yesterday, Donna M. Morrissey, the spokeswoman for the archdiocese, expressed regrets ''that portions of the files of Father Richard F. Ahearn and Father Richard L. Ahern were mistakenly included in the file of the deceased Father Richard J. Ahern.''

Neither of the mistakenly named men had ever been the subject of any allegation of sexual wrongdoing, according to archdiocesan officials.

This story ran on page A41 of the Boston Globe on 12/12/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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