CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After reviewing a psychiatric report, a church official concluded that a priest accused of pedophilia was damaged "beyond repair" but the Boston Archdiocese still allowed him access to young people, records released Tuesday show.
Roderick MacLeish, an attorney for alleged sex abuse victims, called it "the strongest statement to date" that the archdiocese knew how dangerous the Rev. Paul Shanley was and should have warned others.
Lawyers for the archdiocese declined to comment.
The records had been sought by the family of Gregory Ford, 24, who claims in a lawsuit that Shanley repeatedly raped him when he was a boy. Ford has sued Cardinal Bernard Law, accusing the cardinal of negligence in failing to protect him from Shanley, now 71 and retired.
Shanley has pleaded innocent to three criminal charges of child rape.
Records released earlier this year showed the archdiocese knew of abuse claims against Shanley as far back as 1967 and that he had spoken out in favor of sex between men and boys, but did little more than transfer him from parish to parish.
The new records center on correspondence written after Shanley had moved to California in 1990, with a recommendation from the archdiocese. Several years later, officials were discussing whether to try to return him to Boston for psychiatric treatment.
In a 1994 memo summarizing a psychiatrist's report, the Rev. John McCormack said Shanley's problems "cannot be reversed." McCormack said Shanley's "pathology is beyond repair."
Shanley had served in Newton from 1983 to 1990, and MacLeish said parishioners were never asked if Shanley caused them harm.
"They never went back to Newton where he'd been three years earlier" to offer help, the lawyer said. Officials in the Diocese of San Bernardino have also complained they were never warned about Shanley.
In 1995, Shanley became acting director of the Leo House in New York, a domicile for students, travelers and clergy. Law wrote an endorsement letter for him to be promoted to executive director, though it was stamped "not sent."
In 1996, Law wrote Shanley a congratulatory letter informing him he had been taken off sick leave. "For thirty years in assigned ministry you brought God's Word and His love to His people and I know that continues to be your goal despite some difficult limitations," Law said.
Two years earlier, McCormack had written that Shanley "cannot do any kind of ministry."
"How do we protect others from him," he said. "... What is important is that he does not practice as a priest."
In 1995, a memo from the Rev. Brian M. Flatley said the archdiocese had acknowledged two years earlier that Shanley had a "history of aberrant sexual involvements."
The records released Tuesday also contain a letter the same year in which Shanley refers to his own alleged sexual abuse as a "teen-ager, and, later as a seminarian by a priest."
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Raymond Brassard prevented three pages of records from being released. Shanley's attorney, Frank Mondano, had argued that all Shanley's records should have remained private, and that he hadn't waived his right to privacy by submitting them to the archdiocese.
"The interest of the public having access to this matter outweighs the privacy concerns and makes appropriate public access," Brassard said Tuesday.