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A history of secrecy, coverups in Boston Archdiocese

Note: This article is from the Globe’s original online special section on the Spotlight investigation into clergy sex abuse.

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Church documents, official testimony, and victim interviews gathered over the past year paint an extraordinary picture of secrecy and deception in the Boston Archdiocese; a culture in which top church officials coddled abusive priests and permitted them to molest again, while stonewalling or paying off the victims of that abuse.

January 6, 2002
Spotlight: Church allowed abuse by priest for years
By the Globe Spotlight Team
More than 130 people have come forward with horrific childhood tales about how former priest John Geoghan allegedly fondled or raped them during a three-decade spree through Greater Boston.

January 24, 2002
Spotlight: Officials avoided confronting priest over abuse
By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
Although several of his colleagues had been told by parishioners or had suspected on their own that the Rev. John Geoghan was sexually abusing boys, they did not always inform their superiors.

January 24, 2002
Spotlight: Letters exhibit gentle approach toward priest
By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Three decades of correspondence between defrocked priest John Geoghan and the two cardinals he served make clear that Geoghan was treated with unfailing delicacy by his superiors.

January 24, 2002
Spotlight: Documents show church long supported Geoghan
By the Globe Spotlight Team
Even as two cardinals and dozens of church officials learned of evidence that the Rev. John Geoghan could not control his compulsion to molest children, Geoghan found comfort in his church.

January 28, 2002
Spotlight: Church settled six lawsuits against priest
By Sacha Pfeiffer and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
The Archdiocese of Boston settled at least six sexual-abuse cases against a priest accused of raping teenagers, yet allowed him to remain in an administrative position until recently.

January 31, 2002
Spotlight: Scores of priests involved in sex abuse cases
By the Globe Spotlight Team
Under an extraordinary cloak of secrecy, the Archdiocese of Boston in the last 10 years has quietly settled child molestation claims against at least 70 priests, according to a Globe investigation.

February 13, 2002
Woman says church ignored her outcries
By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
For years Jackie Gauvreau made no secret of her animus for the Rev. Paul Shanley. Everyone heard her, but no one really listened - not her fellow parishioners or the officials she notified.

February 24, 2002
Spotlight: Church cloaked in culture of silence
By Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff
It was the church's most closely held secret: Catholic priests were molesting children, crimes so unspeakable that the Archdiocese of Boston went to extraordinary lengths to cover up the scandal.

March 23, 2002
Springfield priest cites cost for speaking out
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff
When a priest in the Diocese of Springfield notified police about a convicted child molester hanging around St. Brigid Church, he was scolded by his superiors for going outside the church.

April 3, 2002
Priest treatment unfolds in costly, secretive world
By Ellen Barry, Globe Staff
For decades the Catholic Church spent millions of dollars to quietly treat accused sex offenders in a constellation of psychiatric hospitals advertised in the back pages of religious publications.

April 4, 2002
Dozens more allege abuse by late priest
By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Dozens of alleged victims of the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham have come forward, some with accounts of how they fruitlessly complained about his compulsive molestation of children.

April 8, 2002
Boston diocese gave letter of assurance about Shanley
By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
The Archdiocese of Boston arranged the transfer of the Rev. Paul Shanley to a California parish in 1990 with a top-level written assurance that Shanley had no problems in his past.

April 9, 2002
Shanley's record of deviant behavior long ignored
By Walter V. Robinson and Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff
For more than a decade, Cardinal Bernard Law and his deputies ignored allegations of sexual misconduct against the Rev. Paul Shanley and reacted casually to complaints about him.

April 12, 2002
Law aides often dismissed complaints of clergy abuse
By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
The public's anger over the clergy abuse crisis has focused on Cardinal Bernard Law, but it was also Law's lieutenants who supported abusive priests and dismissed their victims.

May 15, 2002
Spotlight: Law recommended fired dean for college teaching position
By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
Cardinal Bernard Law recommended the former dean of St. John's Seminary for a college teaching job in 1997, less than two years after Law dismissed him for improper contact with a seminarian.

May 18, 2002
Cardinal promoted alleged sex abuser
By Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Cardinal Bernard Law promoted a Quincy pastor to the position of area vicar with oversight of 19 parishes in 1996, after the pastor had admitted to an allegation of sexual misconduct.

May 30, 2002
Spotlight: Records show Law reassigned Paquin after settlements
By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
Cardinal Bernard Law reinstated the Rev. Ronald Paquin to priestly duties as recently as 1998, despite numerous detailed complaints of molestation against the priest.

June 5, 2002
Abuse allegations were known to high officials, files show
By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
Church documents show that top officials of the Boston Archdiocese had extensive knowledge of allegations of sexual misconduct by several priests who were allowed to remain in active ministry.

June 5, 2002
On defensive, Law pleaded ignorance
By Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff
It was an awkward moment for Cardinal Bernard Law in 1993: How to explain why he transferred a priest to New Jersey in 1985 after the priest pleaded guilty to raping an Arlington altar boy.

June 5, 2002
Memos reveal trail of charges against Birmingham
By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
When the Rev. Joseph Birmingham suddenly departed his parish in 1964, church officials said it was because he "needed a rest." In fact, Birmingham had been accused of sexual abuse.

June 5, 2002
Inaction followed charges of sexual abuse
By Thomas Farragher and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
Senior archdiocesan officials in Boston reacted to charges that priests were abusing children with a bureaucratic nonchalance in the years before the current scandal broke, documents show.

June 7, 2002
Experts on sex abuse say Law rejected their advice
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff
A group of specialists on sexual abuse who met with Cardinal Bernard Law in 1993 at his invitation say he dismissed advice they gave him then to adopt zero-tolerance measures.

June 13, 2002
Doubts in memo slowed 1987 abuse case
By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
A 1987 sexual abuse complaint against a priest was dismissed after it was reported to an archdiocesan official who expressed concern that the family of the victim might be ''press-oriented.''

June 13, 2002
Suit accuses Law of inaction in 1970s after report against priest
By Matt Carroll and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
Cardinal Bernard Law engaged in a ''civil conspiracy'' to conceal the sexual abuse of three young brothers in Mississippi in the early 1970s, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday.

August 10, 2002
Spotlight: Abuse alleged at Wellesley seminary
By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
Officials of the Stigmatine order knew about sexual abuse taking place at a Wellesley seminary a generation ago, but did nothing to stop it, according to interviews with victims.

August 14, 2002
Law says he didn't give scrutiny to priests' files
By Thomas Farragher and Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
According to testimony, Cardinal Bernard Law acknowledged that he promoted the Rev. Paul Shanley to serve as pastor of a Newton parish without consulting the priest's personnel file.

August 28, 2002
Priest faces charges of raping altar boy
By Walter V. Robinson and Ralph Ranalli, Globe Staff
When parents at a Quincy church complained that the Rev. Robert Gale had sexually molested altar boys, Gale was moved to a Waltham parish - where he was placed in charge of the altar boys.

September 13, 2002
Diocese records show more coverups
By Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Bishop Thomas Daily matter-of-factly recorded for church files the 1981 arrest of a priest for lewd conduct in a public restroom. Soon afterward the charge against the priest was dropped.

September 19, 2002
Suit alleges 50-year coverup in Boston Archdiocese
By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
An attorney yesterday filed a civil lawsuit accusing the Boston Archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law, and other church administrators of conspiring to cover up the activities of sexually abusive priests.

October 29, 2002
Bishop Daily testifies of regret on Shanley
By Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Bishop Thomas Daily, once in charge of investigating allegations of clergy abuse in Boston, said he could not recall making any attempt to investigate complaints against the Rev. Paul Shanley.

November 23, 2002
Church tries to block public access to files
By Michael Rezendes and Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff
In a last-minute effort to shield thousands of pages of church records on priests accused of sexual misconduct, the Boston Archdiocese yesterday asked a judge to bar public access to the files.

November 26, 2002
Judge finds church records, Law's testimony at odds
By Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff
A judge said yesterday that evidence contradicts Cardinal Bernard Law's testimony that he did not return some abusive priests to parish work without first determining that they posed no risk.

December 4, 2002
Records show a trail of secrecy, deception
By Walter V. Robinson and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
When it came to the Rev. Robert Burns and his sexual attraction to boys, the first consideration of the Archdiocese of Boston was secrecy, records released by the church indicate.

December 4, 2002
Bishop's letters of warning were ignored
By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
Thousands of pages of records released in clergy abuse lawsuits show that one bishop complained repeatedly about giving new assignments to problem priests - and was repeatedly ignored.

December 4, 2002
Records detail quiet shifting of rogue priests
By Thomas Farragher and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Desperate to contain the burgeoning scandal in the priesthood, the Archdiocese of Boston for years dealt in secret with grave abuse allegations against its priests, newly released records show.

December 11, 2002
Church impedes state probe into abuse, Reilly says
By Walter V. Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Attorney General Thomas Reilly said last night that the Archdiocese of Boston has been using ''every tool and maneuver'' to impede a criminal investigation by his office.

December 14, 2002
Admission of awareness proved damning for Law
By Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff
The roots of Cardinal Bernard Law's demise lay in his admissions in sworn testimony that he was aware of abuse allegations against Boston priests when he approved their reassignments.

December 18, 2002
Files highlight church deference on more priests
By Michael Rezendes and Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff
The Boston Archdiocese took no action against one priest despite graphic evidence - witnessed by two children - of his sexual contact with their mother, according to church records.

December 19, 2002
Letters show fear of scandal in 1984 alleged abuse case
By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
Seven months after Bernard Law arrived in Boston as the new archbishop, he wrote a letter to a bishop in Thailand asking for the recall of a Thai priest accused of molesting a girl in Dorchester.

December 20, 2002
Files show church struck deals with accusers
By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
In 1988 a top official of the Boston Archdiocese persuaded a county prosecutor to drop a molestation charge against a priest because the priest was being treated for sexual disorders.

January 9, 2003
New Hampshire bishop tells of shielding priests in Boston
By Michael Rezendes and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
In pretrial testimony, the Rev. John B. McCormack said that he and other Boston church officials decided to keep the names of accused priests secret ''to avoid scandalizing people.''

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