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McCormack deposed in Shanley church abuse lawsuit
Report: Nun urged McCormack to report priests
By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press, 06/03/02
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Bishop John B. McCormack ignored requests by a Roman Catholic nun that he warn Boston area parishes about several priests who had been accused of molesting children, a lawyer for three alleged victims said Monday.
The disclosure came as McCormack prepared to answer questions in lawsuits brought by three men who say they were molested by the Rev. Paul Shanley during the 1980s, when he served as pastor at St. Jean Parish in Newton, Mass.
McCormack, 66, was secretary of ministerial personnel for the Archdiocese of Boston from 1984 to 1994. He handled sexual abuse complaints against priests for Cardinal Bernard Law from 1992 to 1995.
The lawyer for Shanley's alleged victims, Roderick MacLeish, confirmed a Boston Herald report Monday that said Sister Catherine Mulkerrin, McCormack's top aide in Boston, had written memos advising him to contact members of parishes where Shanley and other accused priests had served.
''I know I sound like a broken record,'' one memo from Mulkerrin said, ''but we need to put in church bulletins 'It has come to our attention a priest stationed here between 19XX and 19XX may have molested children please contact....'''
MacLeish said the memos ''were sent directly to Bishop McCormack and nothing was done. He also said he blames McCormack for allowing Shanley to continue abusing children.
''Had Bishop McCormack taken the advice of Sister Mulkerrin, and gone to the parishes where Paul Shanley and some of these priests had served and spoken to them and informed the parishioners of what was going on, I don't think we would be here today,'' he said prior to the start of Monday's deposition.
The three alleged victims, all now in their mid-20s and from Newton, Mass., have filed lawsuits in Massachusetts accusing Shanley of molesting them starting when they were about 6 years old.
The men also claim that church officials, including McCormack, failed to protect them from repeated sexual abuse by the now-retired Shanley, who also faces criminal charges of raping one of the boys.
The parents of one alleged victim, Gregory Ford, accompanied MacLeish to the deposition.
''If Bishop McCormack had only spoken up, my son wouldn't have had to go through 17 institutions,'' said Rodney Ford, the father. ''I expect to hear a lot of answers from him today.''
Just before the deposition, McCormack said he was ''pleased'' for the chance to clarify his role in supervising Shanley.
''I know that it will be a serious and a very deliberate day. It gives me an opportunity to explain my role in Boston and also to talk about my understanding and my perspective of the situation over those years and to help to clarify the understanding of what happened in those days in what is a very difficult and oftentimes a trying situation,'' he said.
Law, McCormack and Bishop Thomas V. Daily, now of Brooklyn, N.Y., another of Law's former deputies, are scheduled to be questioned under oath by MacLeish in the same lawsuits. Daily is to be deposed June 13, and Law will answer questions Wednesday and Friday. MacLeish said he expected McCormack would have to return for further questioning.
McCormack became bishop of the Diocese of Manchester in 1998.
Church records indicate the Boston archdiocese knew for decades of allegations that Shanley was molesting children. The records also contain letters detailing Shanley's public advocacy of sex between men and boys.
McCormack has said documents about the allegations of child molestation were not in the Shanley file he reviewed while in Boston, and he is frustrated and puzzled by that.
He also has said he doesn't know why he didn't do more about Shanley's remarks regarding sex with children, but he did not take Shanley seriously and assumed it was just talk.
The lawsuits were filed on behalf of Gregory Ford; Paul Busa, whose case also prompted a criminal charge against Shanley; and another man. Shanley was arrested in San Diego on May 2 on rape charges.
Transcripts of the depositions, as well as a videotape, could be released as soon as Monday night, after they are certified by a court clerk.
© Copyright 2002 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing Inc.