Priests sexually abused teenage girls, used cocaine and other drugs, and one had an affair with a female parishioner, according to allegations contained in personnel files maintained by the Boston Archdiocese.
The files included those for the Rev. Robert Meffan, who allegedly recruited girls in the late 1960s to become nuns and then sexually abused them while assigned in Weymouth, Mass., according to letters written in 1993 by Sister Catherine Mulkerrin to her boss, the Rev. John McCormack, who was a top aide to Cardinal Bernard Law and is currently the bishop in Manchester, N.H.
Meffan allegedly would tell the girls to perform sexual acts as a way of progressing with their religious studies. He also allegedly participated in sexual acts with four girls at the same time in a Cape Cod rental, one of the girls told Mulkerrin, according to a 1993 memo.
The Rev. Thomas Forry, who served in Scituate and Kingston, allegedly built a house on Cape Cod for a woman with whom he carried on an 11-year affair, the files show. The woman had gone to him seeking advice because of problems in her marriage. The woman's son later alleged that Forry made sexual advances to him.
A 1992 memo from Mulkerrin to McCormack outlined the history of allegations against Forry. Seven years later, Law reassigned Forry from being a chaplain at a state prison in Concord to being a roaming, fill-in priest to cover various vacations by priests in the archdiocese. He is currently unassigned.
Forry was sent to St. Michael Community in Sunset Hills, Mo., in 1984 for treatment. Today that facility does not treat sex abusers, according to its director, the Rev. Peter Lechner of Sunset Hills, servant general of the Paracletes order.
In another case, a priest from Youngstown, Ohio, was placed in a Boston parish just after being treated for pedophilia, despite warnings by the treatment center and the Youngstown bishop that the priest not be allowed to have contact with children. Several young men in Boston parishes said later that the priest had abused them, and he was convicted of sexual abuse in New Hampshire.
In two other cases, priests accused of abuse did not receive long- range in-patient treatment despite recommendations by senior church officials or the archdiocesan review board. The records show the priests resisted such treatment.
Some of the documents also suggest that Law was more directly informed about complaints against priests than he has previously asserted in his public statements about the abuse scandal. The records contain letters from Law to accused priests that are more personal and sympathetic than letters previously released in other cases. In them, Law warmly compliments the priests or sympathizes with their predicaments.
The documents, 2,200 pages concerning eight priests, were released Tuesday by plaintiffs' attorneys in a lawsuit involving the Rev. Paul Shanley, a priest accused of molesting several boys. The lawyers, who obtained the documents from the archdiocese, are trying to show that the Boston church officials engaged in a pattern of mishandling abusive priests.