Monday, April 9, 2012

Priest Alleged to Have Made Hush Payments to Sex Abuse Victims

Father Thomas F. Shea was "very emotional," Msgr. William J. Lynn wrote in his secret archdiocese files. "Why now after 20 years?" the priest wanted to know.

Father Shea was upset because a former altar boy hired a lawyer in 1994 to press a legal claim against the archdiocese, saying he had had sex with the priest numerous times between 1972 and 1977.

Msgr. Lynn asked Father Shea if the young man's accusations were true.

"Maybe it might be true," Father Shea replied, according to the secret files. Then the priest changed his story. "Yes, it did happen," Father Shea confessed. The lawyer for the former altar boy had also told Lynn about a second victim who claimed to have had sex with Father Shea.

Lynn asked if there had been genital contact between the priest and the two boys. Yes, Father Shea admitted. Where did it happen, Lynn wanted to know. In a motel and the rectory, the priest responded. How many times? The priest couldn't remember.

Monsignor Lynn, the former archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, is on trial in Courtroom 304 of the Criminal Justice Center for allegedly conspiring to endanger the welfare of children by allowing predator priests to continue in ministry.

In confidential documents displayed in the courtroom Monday, Father Shea asked Lynn if the young man's accusations "will hit the papers?"Lynn replied that "he hopes not." The young man was asking for money. Lynn told Father Shea that "the archdiocese does not make cash settlements, but does pay for therapy."

But then the monsignor told the priest that since he had confessed to having sex with a minor, archdiocese policy also required that he would have to leave his parish post at St. Clement's immediately.

In the documents shown in court, Lynn appeared to have more sympathy for the priest than the victim. "We're here to help," Lynn told the priest. The monsignor asked if it was possible "Tom Shea was seduced into it" by the former altar boy.

Here, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington asked the detective reading the files into the record if the monsignor was theorizing that a sixth grade boy had seduced the priest.

"That's what it appears to be," dead-panned Detective James Dougherty.

In a subsequent note to Cardinal Bevilacqua, Lynn said that Father Shea admitted he had sex with the altar boy, but "intimates he was seduced." The priest was sent to St. John Vianney, the archdiocese treatment center, where he was diagnosed as a pedophile.

A hospital administrator wrote Lynn that although Father Shea had admitted to having sex with one boy, it was likely that since he was a pedophile, there were other victims. The 59 year-old priest also admitted in 1995, while still being treated at St. John Vianney, that he had paid hush money to another boy he had had sex with who subsequently died in a motorcycle accident.

The archdiocese wanted the priest to submit into voluntary laicization, the process where a priest gives up his ministry, and goes back to being a lay person. But Father Shea didn't want to do it.

So in 1995, Cardinal Bevilacqua allowed Father Shea to retire "due to medical reasons." But that wasn't the end of the accusations against Father Shea.

In 2002, an anonymous letter writer wrote to Cardinal Bevilacqua to charge that Father Shea had made payments by check to a boy who was a relative. The money was paid initially in exchange for sex, and then to keep the boy quiet. The checks from the priest continued for years until recently, the anonymous letter said. The writer also said he knew of three other boys that the priest had had sex with.

The district attorney asked Detective Dougherty if there was any evidence in the files that church officials had done anything to investigate the allegations.

"None," the detective said.

Since his retirement, Father Shea has lived at Villa St. Joseph, where he is still allowed to say Mass.

Some of the secret archdiocese files shown in court had been heavily redacted. When Thomas Bergstrom, Lynn's defense lawyer, asked Dougherty about the blank spaces on the documents, Dougherty suggested several times that Bergstrom ask his client what had happened.

That prompted several objections from Bergstrom. After a discussion in chambers, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina told jurors that the lawyers had agreed that the files were found to be redacted when they were turned over to the grand jury, and no further explanation would be forthcoming. The judge said it had also been "inappropriate" for Detective Dougherty to suggest that Lynn knew something about the redacted files.

Defendant Lynn has no burden to prove anything, the judge instructed the jury. Instead, the prosecution has the burden of proving its case against Father Lynn beyond a reasonable doubt.

Dougherty promptly apologized.

Also on Monday, Sister Joan Scary took the witness stand to tell the jury how in 1995, she had discovered pornographic magazines mailed in plain wrappers to Father Eward M. DePaoli at St. Gabriel's rectory in Stowe, Pa.

Scary, a Sister of Mercy who wore cross earrings and a cross necklace, testified how she mailed one magazine along with an anonymous note to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua that said, "Your Eminence, Is this appropriate for a Roman Catholic priest?"

The note shown in court was attached to a Details magazine that featured articles such as "Sex: The Ultimate Buyer's Guide," and "Anka: The Naughty DAughter Talks Dirty to Her Mom and Dad." On the witness stand, however, Sister Scary testified that the prosecutors had the note attached to the wrong magazine. Scary testified that she sent the cardinal a magazine that had two men on the cover embracing.

Father DePaoli had previously been convicted in 1986 of receiving child pornography through the mail. Postal inspectors found under DePaoli's bed in his rectory room at Holy Martyrs Church in Oreland, Pa., an estimated $15,000 worth of pornography, including more than 100 magazines. After his conviction, Father DePaoli was transferred to St. Gabriel's, where he never said Mass or heard confessions. "It seemed strange," the nun said.

Scary, a nun for 50 years, testified that when she complained about the magazines to Father James Gormley, pastor at St. Gabriel's, he told she "might as well pack [her] bags and get out of here" if she was going to continue to speak out against Father DePaoli. "He was very angry, very hostile," Sister Scary said.

The nun testified after she sent the note to the cardinal and complained to the pastor at St. Gabriel's, she was fired from her job as the parish's director of religious education.


  1. Father Shea was not defrocked. He was restricted in his ministry which in his case seems to mean that he can only say Mass at Villa St. Joseph in Darby.

  2. Catholic priests are the social, psychological, and sexual misfits of society:

    - Shea rapes a child (oh, and by the way, undoubtedly raped dozens more that haven’t come forward yet due to the pressure of themediareport, the Catholic League, Cardinal Dolan, and other Catholics who victim bullies instead of searching for them)
    - Shea lies about it for years, then says “maybe”, then admits it
    - Lynn then suggests that a 10 year old boy may have seduced a grown man, about 2-3 years before he knows what sex is, and Bevilacqua agrees (let’s hope this is read to Lynn’s prison-mates)
    - Shea also has sex with relatives, much like Catholic Bishop Vangheluwe who had sex with his 5 year old nephew for 13 years, then had sex with the other nephew
    - Shea was known to have sex with 3 other boys, but no Catholic is ever going to search for them
    - Shea is still in ministry, of course, since serial child rape is almost a sacrament at this point

    Child rape, lying about it, and blaming the 10 year old victims. Never go to the police. That’s the Catholic church in a nutshell.

    P.S. Almost all of these victims are suicidal, since a 10 year old can’t get it out of his head that he was raped by “Christ on earth”, and the human mind can’t get that out of their head. Its very possible that the “motocyle accident” was in fact, an attempted suicide.

  3. Great reporting, although you must spend half of the time saying, "Did I hear that right? Did he really say that? Is that possible?"

    What's even worse is the stuff that we'll never hear. You know they've only uncovered the tip of the iceberg, and that the real dark truth will never, ever come out.

    Is there ever going to be any information on the redacted parts? That's certainly some of the stuff that probably defies human comprehension.

  4. "Lynn asked if there had been genital contact between the priest and the two boys. Yes, Father Shea admitted. Where did it happen, Lynn wanted to know. In a motel and the rectory, the priest responded. How many times?"

    Curious questions from Lynn. I guess it must have made a difference if they had genital contact, where it happened, how many times, and how many kids? So did any of this info make Lynn call the police..? NO..

  5. I have made some comments on the 'Meltdown' piece in this site's series and I would like to comment here with a thought to those prior comments.

    There surely seem to be, in this case, instances of people who should never have been allowed to continue in ministry: certainly not to children and probably not to anybody in a direct way. (Whether they might, after clearly necessary therapy - and whatever legal punishment is determined - be allowed to continue in priesthood in some way that does not involve direct contact with persons in a ministerial role is a separate question.)

    I hold no brief for any human being imposing unwanted sexual experience on any other human being, whether through action or conversation.

    But it seems insupportable to me to assert or infer that all priests are therefore incapable of direct ministry.

    For that matter, after having read the just-released Report in the ongoing annual series of examinations of a third of the Dioceses and Eparchies, that the Church has been having notable success in reforming herself. The largest problem noted is that 30 or so out of the 150 or so Dioceses and Eparchies examined for calendar year 2011 are not keeping sufficient records of the documented training required for priests, parish workers and other such persons, as well as for students and other parishioners.

    The Report is quite readable and provides both results and a review of the methods use to conduct the audits as well as easily comprehensible graphs clearly expressing the numerical results of the Study.

    I think that if one compares the Church to such other large organizations as the military, public schools, other professions and even other religious groups, the impression strongly recommends itself that the Church has taken rather remarkable steps. Less than 5 pct of 2011's new claims deal with allegations of currently-committed offenses (including 'boundary violations', a rather broad category at the lower end of the offense spectrum); 95 pct relate to claims going back some decades.

    It is a truism to say that nothing human is perfect, but compared to the general run of human institutions, the Church has to be considered as one of the more abuse-negative organizations on the planet at this point.

    1. The Catholic Church is and always has been the worst institution in the world when it comes to protecting their pedophiles.

      It's still going on today as was proven in Philadelphia in 2011 when Cardinal Rigali blatantly lied to the congregation and said that there were “no accused priests left in ministry”, on the grand jury report showed that there were at least 21 and at least another 14 that the Catholic Church had let free, mostly to paid Catholic retirements.

      The fact that the Catholic church isn't as bad as it used to be in the 70s and 80s when Catholic priest was literally 100 times as likely to be a child sex offender doesn't mean we let them off the hook.

      We’re not going to stop chasing Al Qaeda just because they are killing fewer people than they used to. The Catholic church is also a criminal enterprise. The differences that the crime is child rape.

  6. In fact, the Report's main concern seems to be that since there is such a demonstrable improvement in abuse-matters there is (quite logically, human beings and their organizations being what they are) a danger of becoming complacent precisely because of the success achieved.

    I strongly urge the Church to work against the development of any such complacency in so vital a matter.

    Many of the concerns I read about in the comments on this site in this series seem to me to flow from two major elements.

    First, the conflation of 'victim' status in the therapeutic arena with that same status in the legal arena. I address that in my comments on the April 4th 'Meltdown' piece.

    Second, the very predictable complications that arise from creating - out of good intentions in so many instances - a public 'groundswell' that is not inaccurately characterized as a 'stampede' or a 'Mania' phenomenon.

    In this regard, the priest-abuse matter is a subset of the general sex-offense phenomenon of the past quarter-century or so.

    When basic evidentiary principles are disregarded as merely obstructions to providing immediate therapeutic succor to individuals claiming victimization and demanding the deployment of the sovereign police/coercive authority to redress their condition, then you are inevitably going to create as many if not more problems than you are trying to solve.

    Because evidentiary principles are a vital firewall or watertight bulkhead that prevents the spread of unchecked deployment of the sovereign police/coercive authority against any citizens, the flooding of all cases with the sovereign coercive/police authority un-boundaried by any evidentiary reality or any rational thought-process that serve to tether that sovereign authority to demonstrable reality.

    These are profound and vital first principles involved here that reach beyond individual cases to the very foundations of the American Framing Vision and the continuance of the Republic as it was originally envisioned.

    I do not apologize for raising issues that seem so far from the more immediate urgencies spread over the surface of the usual framing narratives.

    But as they say in the Navy, no matter how far out on the surface of the ocean you may be, you are never more than a few miles from land. Meaning: if you think in three dimensions, the ocean bottom is never more than a couple of miles away, in a downward direction (the three-dimensional bit).

    All issues of great import on the surface of public and current events are, really, not very far from the profound foundations of our core civic reality as a constitutional Republic.

    And of course, and for Catholics especially, there is that fourth dimension of God and His Justice and His Providence and Grace.

    This sex-abuse matter is not simply a thing of surfaces and requires more than two-dimensional thinking. But then, what matter isn't rooted in such larger realities and what matter doesn't require such complex thought and - not to put too fine a point on it - prayer?

    1. You’re trying to over complicate this matter. The Catholic church is hiding by far the world's largest, organized child sex ring. That is a fact and they should be brought to justice.

  7. Thus in this matter, as mentioned in various comments, of ‘naming the victims’. Avoiding further pain to the person publicly claiming victimization is a laudable and logical therapeutic goal.

    But it is not and cannot be the primary or governing consideration in the very public legal forum.

    If a person chooses to a) make public claims and b) to make through a court filing a public demand for the deployment of the sovereign coercive/police authority, then the person takes the matter out of the therapeutic forum and into the public forum.

    From the point of view of fairness, then, if the accused is to be publicly named, then the accuser must also accept such publicization.

    From the point of view of the legitimacy of the justice system itself, this is also necessary so that the Citizens can see exactly what is being done in their Name (as The People, whose authority - in the American constitutional system – is the source of the sovereign coercive/police power ).

    And from the point of view of the integrity of the judicial process, such publicization is necessary in order to evoke as much information of evidentiary value as might be ‘out there’ in order to best ensure that genuine justice is achieved and to prevent the miscarriage of justice.

    In this last regard, I note that now, after the passage of almost two decades, information about the MacRae case in New Hampshire has come most clearly and voluminously to light; information that in the heat of the moment back then, and information that by (ill-advised, I would say) statute was not deemed necessary for jurisprudential and legal process to achieve genuine justice.

    It is right and true to regret the catastrophe that befell the accused, if this information proves to be accurate. But this is also a catastrophe effected completely by the action of the sovereign authority in both its Legislative and Judicial form.

    Therapeutic ‘justice’ is not the same as legal justice (if indeed, ‘justice’ is properly conceived to be an end of therapy). And the sovereign authority must be concerned with the legal boundaries and shapes of justice, in both its Legislative and Judicial forms, if the legitimacy and credibility of those forms are to be maintained. (Look what happened to the Massachusetts judiciary’s integrity when it accepted ‘spectral evidence’ as sufficient for conviction, assisted perhaps by such medieval ‘tests’ as were then popularly considered useful in determining if one were indeed in league with the Devil.)

    1. Another Macrae pedophile priest apologist, and you are undoubtedly a friend of Dave Pierre and themediareport, and are probably getting a commission on the books he is selling.

      For people who don't know, Fr Gordon Macrae is a convicted pedophile priest from New Hampshire, spending 30-60 years in jail for having sex with one child.

      Macrae also PLEADED GUILTY to sexually abusing another 3 children. At least 7 other victims came forward, and there are undoubtedly at least 10-20 more who will never be heard from.

      Pierre and Macrae endorse each other on their web pages, and have a set of pedophile-sympathizing followers.

      Macrae was one of the few that was convicted under the regime of child sex terror run by Cardinal Law and Bishop McCormick, where over 200 priests had sex with 800 children that they know about.


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