Priest says church sought to cover up suit against him

Boston Globe/January 31, 2002
By Michael Rezendes

Catholic priest who recently worked at a Brockton nursing home said yesterday that in the early 1990s he was accused of sexually molesting an Allston boy and received treatment at two institutions for sexually abusive clergy before being reassigned to a Wayland parish, in 1998.

In an interview with the Globe, the Rev. Jay M. Mullin said the archdiocese settled the claim for $60,000 about five years ago to keep the accusation out of court - and out of public view - and required Mullin to pay $10,000 of the award.

Mullin also said that last November, on the day after Thanksgiving, church officials told him his assignment as chaplain at St. Joseph's Manor in Brockton would end Dec. 1, and that he would remain ''unassigned'' until his retirement. The move reflects what appears to be a recent effort by Cardinal Bernard Law to rid the archdiocese of priests accused of molesting minors.

''They said that they had a new policy and that anyone who had an allegation against them was going into the category of 'unassigned,''' Mullin said.

Mullin isn't the only priest recently removed from his role in the archdiocese. Last week the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin, who admitted molesting boys in Haverhill and Methuen in the 1970s and 1980s, said he was recently removed from the archdiocese's payroll. Paquin, 59, said church officials told him he was losing his annual salary immediately and that he would lose his medical insurance next year.

Mullin, 61, said questions about his salary, health benefits, and pension remain unresolved, although he received payments from a clergy fund in December and January equal to his former salary. Mullin lives in Harwich.

Mullin, who says the sexual abuse allegation against him is false, said he believes Law and other church officials abruptly ended his Brockton assignment late last year because of anticipated publicity surrounding the looming civil lawsuits and criminal charges against former priest John J. Geoghan, who has been accused of sexually abusing 130 boys and girls.

Geoghan was convicted of indecent sexual assault earlier this month and is facing two additional criminal trials and about 90 civil lawsuits.

''It didn't take much to figure out that the cardinal wanted to say there was no one in ministry who had an accusation againt them,'' Mullin said.

In addition, by Thanksgiving of last year the Globe Spotlight Team had spent several months interviewing victims, lawyers, clergymen, and church officials about priests who had been allowed to remain in parish work or other posts in the archdiocese despite accusations that they had sexually abused minors.

The work histories of Mullin and Paquin, listed in official Catholic directories, resemble those of other clerics accused of sexually abusing minors - years of ''sick leave'' or ''unassigned'' status followed by work as a chaplain or some other occupation where they would be less likely to come into contact with children.

In Mullin's case, the sexual molestation allegation was followed by an evaluation at St. Luke Institute in Maryland and six months of treatment at Southdown, a facility in Ontario, Canada. He then moved into Our Lady's Hall in Milton, a church-owned facility that provided transitional housing for clergymen who were alcoholics or who stood accused of sexually molesting minors.

Church officials then reintroduced Mullin to parish work in a manner one parishioner who spoke to the Globe found deceptive - as an apparent layman hired to play organ for Masses at St. Ann Church in Wayland.

Six months later, Mullin said, he was reinstated as a parochial vicar and began wearing his priestly collar again, saying Masses, directing an adult choir, and performing other duties - but none that put him in direct contact with children.

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