San Bernardino diocese asks Boston to pay lawsuit damages

ROBERT JABLON, Associated Press Writer Tuesday, April 1, 2003


(04-01) 18:15 PST LOS ANGELES (AP) --

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino demanded Tuesday that Boston church officials pay any damages that might be awarded to a man who says he was molested by a priest transferred from Boston to San Bernardino in the 1990s.

San Bernardino church officials say the Archdiocese of Boston assured them the Rev. Paul Shanley was in good standing when he transferred from Boston. Church documents have since revealed that Boston archdiocese officials had received allegations about Shanley dating to the 1960s and knew about public statements he had made advocating sex between men and boys.

He was charged in May with raping four boys at a Newton, Mass., church from 1979 to 1989. He has pleaded innocent and is free on bail awaiting trial.

A suit filed in January also accuses him of having sex with a 17-year-old boy in San Bernardino in 1990 and of persuading the teenager to have sex with other men. The action seeks unspecified damages.

The Diocese of San Bernardino has filed a court petition denying responsibility for Shanley's actions and asking that any damages be paid by the Archdiocese of Boston. The suit is pending trial.

"We have no responsibility in the actions that caused this lawsuit so we do not believe our parishioners should have to bear its financial burden," said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, a diocese spokesman.

The Archdiocese of Boston had not seen the filing and could not comment, said spokeswoman Donna Morrissey.

Lincoln said the diocese, which has 1.1 million parishioners, is too poor to pay a potential multimillion-dollar damage award. It has only about $1.1 million in financial reserves, he said.

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