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Bishop Daily's Deposition Made Public

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Bishop Thomas Daily, the Bishop of Brooklyn, says he knew an alleged pedophile priest had endorsed sex between men and boys before Daily appointed him to lead a Boston suburban parish twenty years ago. Daily was the second-in-command in the Archdiocese of Boston from the mid-70's to 1984. His comments came in a videotaped deposition that was released yesterday, in connection with a negligence lawsuit brought against the Archdiocese by three men who say they were molested by Shanley when they were young. WNYC's Amy Eddings reports.

Bishop Thomas Daily has led the Brooklyn Diocese for the last twelve years, most of them without incident. But the child sexual abuse scandal that erupted in Boston earlier this year has engulfed Daily, a former Boston Auxillary Bishop, in several lawsuits, including the negligence suit against the Boston Archdiocese. Daily was responsible for handling problem priests. And Father Paul Shanley was a problem. Church documents released this spring show people were writing to the archdiocese about Shanley. One detailed a speech Shanley allegedly gave, saying children seduce adults into sexual acts. Others forwarded articles where Shanley was quoted, saying children are traumatized when their adult lovers are subjected to criminal prosecution. Another person inquired about Shanley's alleged involvment with a group advocating sexual relationships between men and boys.

In the videotaped deposition, Bishop Daily did not remember much of the twenty-year-old correspondence, nor did he recall talking to Shanley about his alleged views prior to appointing him to St. Jean's, in the Boston suburb of Newton. Attorney Roderick MacLeish, who represents three men in their negligence suit against the Archdiocese, asked Bishop Daily about his actions.


MacLeish: Looking at those letters, do you still believe it was appropriate for you to appoint Paul Shanley as acting pastor of a family parish in Newton, Massachusetts in November of 1983?
Daily: I would have to agree that it would be extraordinary. The only saving feature is that, to my knowledge at the time, he wasn't involved in any activities. But, having even said that, I would have misgivings. And regrets, even.
MacLeish: You have regrets ever making the appointment?
Daily: Oh, I think I would've done much better if I hadn't have made the appointment.

But Bishop Daily did appoint Shanley to St. Jean's. And the retired priest is currently under arrest in a criminal case where he's charged with raping and molesting four people -- including the three who have filed the negligence suit -- at St. Jean's when they were boys in the mid-80's.

In the deposition, Bishop Daily described Paul Shanley as a "troubled priest" who needed help.

MacLeish: Did you ever tell Cardinal Law that Paul Shanley was a troubled priest and needed to be evaluated by a psychiatrist?
Daily: I don't recall doing that.
MacLeish: Well, since you considered him a troubled priest who needed help, can you provide us with an explanation as to why you didn't make that recommendation?
Daily: Sure, I think it's a question of the help that he did receive from His Eminence and also from other prests, at the same time it could be very well that, in his case, good spiritual direction and good forceful spiritual direction.
MacLeish: Well did that happen with Paul Shanley?
Daily: I'm not sure.

Bishop Daily was also not sure whether any church official spoke to Father Shanley about his alleged views of sexuality. Daily acknowledged that many of those views, if true, would be in opposition to church teaching. MacLeish asked Bishop Daily about an article describing Father Shanley as an attendee at the inaugural conference of the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which advocates sexual relationships between men and boys.

MacLeish: Understand that we are talking here about man/boy love. This is April of 1979, and understanding that you have a report in front of you that Paul Shanley was in attendance and said certain things, did you undertake anything at all to find out specifically whether Paul Shanley had attended the conference or had been part of the caucus?
Daily: as you know, there's a note on the memorandum that says the cardinal was aware.
MacLeish: Apart from making the cardinal aware of this article, did you do anything else that you can recall?
Daily: I gave -- I made the cardinal aware in case he wanted to give me directions as to further action, because if that was -- because that was my responsibility to do that. I was taking my orders from him and my direction from him because he's obviously the cardinal and bishop of Boston, and he would direct me, whatever, counsel me, regarding the situation; but direct me as to what actions we should take or not take.

But Cardinal Bernard Law has said he left much of the details of investigating child sexual abuse allegations to his subordinates, including Bishop Daily. In an interview, Attorney MacLeish says this is disturbing.

MacLeish: There didn't seem to be any accountability. There didn't seem to be any consequences. And I think that that's why people should be interested in this depostion because of what didn't happen.


Paula Ford, the mother of Gregory Ford, one of Paul Shanley's alleged victims who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, doesn't believe Bishop Daily has changed the way he deals with problem priests.

Paula Ford: People in New York have-- they have a man who has made some really bad judgment calls who I would not be comfortable with being a leader of a diocese.

Brooklyn Diocese spokesman Frank DeRosa has said Bishop Daily answered deposition questions openly and forthrightly, based on his memory of events that occurred twenty years ago. DeRosa has also said the bishop is committed to following the new policy of the diocese. Daily is the only bishop in the New York area to sign a memorandum of understanding with a district attorney, agreeing to bring all allegations of child sexual abuse to law enforcement officials.

Attorney Roderick MacLeish hopes to bring the negligence suit to trial early next year. Meanwhile, Daily's legal troubles have spread to New York. Last week, 43 adults, alleging that they were abused in the past by thirteen priests in Queens, filed a civil suit against Bishop Daily and the Diocese. The suit claims Daily and his predecessors threatened them and misled them, effectively preventing them from filing sexual abuse allegations until now. Bishop Daily's spokesman had no comment on the lawsuit.

For WNYC, I'm Amy Eddings.

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