Bishop Thomas V. Daily, the official in charge of investigating allegations of clergy sexual misconduct in the Boston Archdiocese from 1977 to 1984, said he “regrets” that he appointed the Rev. Paul R. Shanley administrator of a Newton parish after receiving complaints that Shanley had spoken favorably of sex between men and boys and might pose a threat to children.
Daily, in pretrial testimony in a clergy sexual abuse suit filed by alleged victims of Shanley, also said he could not recall making any attempt to investigate the complaints against Shanley or to inform Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Shanley’s public endorsement of sex between adults and children when Law was named archbishop in 1984.
Daily’s deposition, given in August and made public yesterday, points to the central role he played in Shanley’s career under the late Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros and, to a lesser extent, Law. A second deposition given by a former Nahant police officer in connection with a suit filed by an alleged victim of the Rev. Edward T. Kelley, also released yesterday, underscores the larger role Daily played as the top official assigned to overseeing priests accused of sexual misconduct.
In that deposition, Daily was placed at the center of efforts to assist a priest stopped by police because of suspected sexual misconduct. Gerard D. Perry, the former officer, said in his pretrial testimony that in 1977 Daily drove from archdiocesan headquarters in Brighton to Nahant after police came upon Kelley partially unclad in a parked car with a 19-year-old man.
Perry, then a rookie patrolman and now a state revenue official, said that Daily and the Nahant police chief, the late Joseph Melanson, agreed to let the archdiocese handle the issue after Daily agreed to get treatment for Kelley. But Kelley remained in parishes in Brighton and Medford and did not receive treatment for 16 years. A portion of Perry’s deposition was first reported in yesterday’s Boston Herald.
It was not the only time Daily intervened in such circumstances on behalf of a priest. Last month, the Globe reported that church documents show Daily in 1981 spoke with a politically connected lawyer who assured him that the Rev. George J. Rosenkranz would not be prosecuted after he was caught with another man in a public restroom at a department store. Lewd conduct charges against Rosenkranz were dropped while the other man was prosecuted.
Yesterday Daily, who is now the head of the Brooklyn and Queens Diocese, the fifth largest in the nation, referred questions to the Boston Archdiocese and its attorneys, who had no comment. Earlier this year, Daily issued a general statement in which he expressed regret for decisions he made in the Boston Archdiocese while supervising former priest and convicted pedophile John J. Geoghan.
But in his deposition in the Shanley case, Daily, under questioning by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. about Shanley’s association with an organization known as the North American Man-Boy Love Association, was more specific about his regrets:
MACLEISH: “And so you also knew in 1983 that someone who might express their endorsement of man-boy love relationships might also be someone that could be considered a threat to the children, is that correct?”
DAILY: “He might be, yes, I’m aware of that.”
MACLEISH: “But you went ahead and appointed him despite the fact that you had information before you that suggested Paul Shanley had attended and quite possibly endorsed the views of the NAMBLA organization?”
MACLEISH: “And you regret that?”
DAILY: “I regret that.”
Daily acknowledged that as early as April 1974 he considered Shanley “a troubled priest that needed help” and by 1975 believed Shanley could have a negative effect on young people. But Daily said he was unaware of Shanley ever receiving psychiatric evaluation or counseling. Explaining why he hadn’t recommended treatment for Shanley, Daily said Shanley instead received help from “His Eminence,” meaning Medeiros, and also from other priests who could provide “good forceful spiritual direction.”
MacLeish also asked Daily if he was concerned in 1979, when Shanley was assigned as a parish priest to the now-closed St. John the Evangelist Church in Newton, that the priest had been insubordinate in the sexual views he espoused during his years working in special ministries for runaways and gays. Daily replied that Shanley was not so much insubordinate as “independent and incorrect.”
At the time, Shanley was living in a private Back Bay apartment, where several of his alleged victims say they were molested when Shanley brought them there, ostensibly for counseling.
After Medeiros died and before Law succeeded him in 1984, Daily was in charge of the archdiocese. It was then, in November 1983, that he appointed Shanley administrator of St. John’s parish.
Daily - who at one point during the questioning said he views pedophilia and homosexuality as “in the same family” - also said his office contained a locked file cabinet that contained records of “special cases,” of priests accused of sexual misconduct.
But Daily said he could not remember whether the locked cabinet contained “any kind of a significant file on Paul Shanley.” Nor could he remember whether a 1966 letter alleging that Shanley had sexually abused teenage boys was included in his files. “I suspect that it wasn’t,” Daily said. “I mean, reading it today I want to throw up. But I think that - I suspect it wasn’t.”
Yet Daily acknowledged that he was privy to complaints about Shanley, including letters from lay Catholics who referenced Shanley’s “mindless destructiveness” and argued that he had “introduced more kids to a permissive wrong way of life than a constructive and rehabilitative one.”
In the case of a woman who expressed concern that Shanley had said publicly in 1977 that children sometimes seduce adults and that incest and bestiality cause no psychological damage to children, Daily said he could not remember whether the allegation had ever been investigated, or even whether he had discussed the case with Medeiros.
“Can you think of any one thing that you did to put any restrictions on Paul Shanley’s ministry after you got this letter?” MacLeish asked.
“Only to inform His Eminence,” Daily replied. “What I did was I gave the information to the cardinal so he could put the restrictions.”
Indeed, Daily said repeatedly that he referred decisions about Shanley to Medeiros, even while acknowledging that he had been in a position to advise the cardinal and his clergy personnel board on how to deal with the issue.
Shanley has been indicted on child rape charges and is in custody awaiting trial. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Daily’s role in the Kelley case was described in detail by Perry. He said in his deposition that he and his partner happened upon an occupied, parked car early one morning in August 1977, and as was customary, flashed a bright light to signal the occupants to leave. Kelley and a teenage boy, he said, then sat up in the car. Perry, a graduate of St. Mary’s High School in Lynn, recognized Kelley as a former priest in the parish.
Perry, under questioning by Carmen L. Durso, the attorney for Kelley’s alleged victim, recalled how shocked and angry he was to see Kelley in such a position. At Perry’s request, Kelley got out of the car. “His pants were partially undone. He zipped his pants up,” Perry said. “I got upset with him. I yelled and screamed at him.”
At a St. Mary’s High reunion six years later, Perry recalled, he was stunned to see Kelley there with several other priests, still clad in a Roman collar. “I gave him a look like you don’t even belong here,” Perry testified. “Within five minutes, he got up and left before dinner was even served.” Sometime later, Perry learned that Kelley had been assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Church in Medford, “back in a parish with children.”
Perry said in his deposition that when Daily arrived at the police station, he recalled, “I remember kissing his ring.” He and his partner and the chief were all Catholics, he said, adding, “It was an age of deference.”