Accused priest is confined to Weston facility

The Metro West Daily News, Massachusetts/March 5, 2011

Weston - A priest who was the target of a sexual abuse claim settled in 2003 lives today at the Campion Center on Concord Road but is monitored and remains barred from public ministry, according to police and the Jesuit society that runs the facility.

Weston Police Detective Lt. Daniel Maguire said last week that he received voicemail messages from a man in New Mexico concerned that the Rev. Francis J. McManus lives at the center, which has a health clinic and retirement home for Jesuit priests and a retreat center for both the Catholic religious order and lay people.

According to 2003 news reports, an alleged victim received a settlement of about $600,000 for a claim that McManus sexually abused him while teaching at Boston College High School in the early 1980s.

Maguire said he verified that McManus lives at Campion, but the priest was never charged or convicted of any crime.

"Therefore, as a police officer, I certainly have no jurisdiction over what Father McManus does," Maguire said. "That's more internal, between him and the church."

The priest has "not so much as received a parking ticket in the town of Weston," Maguire said.

In 30 years with the Police Department, the lieutenant said he cannot recall any problems with the Campion Center or anyone there.

It is unclear how long McManus may have lived there.

Thomas Bunszell, who said McManus abused him when he was a student at Boston College High, said he contacted Weston Police about McManus.

He said he did so because he thinks the community should know if the priest lives there, calling for more transparency and accountability in the handling of priests accused of abusing children.

"Local communities need to know to a large extent what's happening, what's going on, who's being harbored, who's living there," said Bunszell, who now lives in New Mexico.

"He needs to be accountable for the rest of his life," Bunszell said.

The Campion Center directed questions to the Society of Jesus of New England, the local province of the Jesuits. Spokeswoman Alice Poltorick said she could not confirm that McManus is at Campion but said he is in a "monitored, supervised facility."

McManus is not allowed to leave the premises unaccompanied and is fully restricted from public ministry, Poltorick said.

The Jesuits were recently reaccredited by Praesidium, a national risk management organization that trains religious organizations and employers to prevent abuse. The Jesuits follow its standards and procedures for dealing with such cases, Poltorick said.

Any allegation of abuse against a member of the clergy leads to an internal investigation, the priest's removal from public ministry and pastoral care for the victim, she said.

"We are committed to assuring the safety of children in our community," Poltorick said.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, has called for the church to release the names of priests involved in sex abuse settlements and to be more open about their whereabouts, regional coordinator Ann Hagan Webb said.

"That's been a major complaint from day one," she said. "They could be living next door to you or I, and we wouldn't know it."

Webb noted that attorney Mitchell Garabedian released a list in January of 117 Catholic clergy and staff in which his clients won settlements or arbitration awards. The list included 19 names never before tied publicly to sex abuse.

Terry McKiernan of Natick, an organizer of the website, said he does not think it is uncommon for priests in such cases to live at religious facilities out of the public eye.

SNAP has called on Catholic leaders to monitor priests who remain with the church after abuse complaints and to protect the public from them, Webb said.

The Boston Archdiocese discloses when clergy are removed from active ministry for an abuse investigation and when a priest is convicted or defrocked. It remains "committed to augmenting" its policy for disclosing credible accusations, a spokeswoman told the Daily News in January, but also must consider cases where guilt or innocence has not been proven or the accused has died, impeding an investigation.

The problem is that a priest may not have been convicted because the church helped protect them, or the statute of limitations for prosecution ran out, Webb said.

"They're out there, and they're still dangerous," she said.

Several graduates of Boston College High School told the Boston Globe in 2002 that three Jesuits who taught at the school in the 1970s and '80s molested them, including McManus. At the time of the accusation, McManus was removed from a job as a hospital chaplain in New Bedford.

The others accused were the Rev. Stephen F. Dawber, who was suspended from work and died last year, and the Rev. James F. Talbot, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to rape and assault of two boys.

Talbot was sentenced to five to seven years in prison and is scheduled to be released this month. Dawber's wake and burial were at the Campion Center, according to his obituary.

Poltorick has said the Jesuits plan to place Talbot in a secure and monitored location after his release and remove him from the priesthood, after which he will no longer remain at a Jesuit residence.

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