CLERGY PROBE EX­PAND­ING

Two more sem­i­nar­ies scru­ti­nized

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By SEAN PHILIP COT­TER — sean.cot­ter@boston­her­ald.com

‘It’s spin con­trol. They should have re­leased all doc­u­ments over to the AG.’

— MITCHELL GARABEDIAN at­tor­ney

The Catholic Arch­dio­cese of Bos­ton has brought on a high­pro­file former U.S. at­tor­ney as it ex­pands its in­ves­ti­ga­tion of sex­ual mis­con­duct from one to all three of the area sem­i­nar­ies in a move crit­ics pan as “spin con­trol.”

Along with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into St. John’s Sem­i­nary, where two former sem­i­nar­i­ans in Au­gust al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct took place, the probe will also cover Pope St. John XXIII Na­tional Sem­i­nary in We­ston and Redemp­toris Mater Sem­i­nary in Ch­est­nut Hill.

“I have con­cluded that to meet the gen­er­ally ex­pected lev­els of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, it is best to ex­pand the re­view to in­clude all three sem­i­nar­ies,” Car­di­nal Sean O’Mal­ley, the arch­bishop of Bos­ton, said in a state­ment yes­ter­day. “I want to re­as­sure the sem­i­nary com­mu­ni­ties and the wider pub­lic that these are in­sti­tu­tions com­mit­ted to the high­est stan­dards of in­tegrity, re­spect and safety for our sem­i­nar­i­ans, fac­ulty and staff.”

The arch­dio­cese said it has not heard al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety at the other two sem­i­nar­ies.

Two former sem­i­nar­i­ans wrote Face­book posts two months ago that de­tailed sex­ual im­pro­pri­ety they said hap­pened at St.

John’s. The arch­dio­cese quickly placed Mon­signor James P. Moroney, the rec­tor of St. John’s Sem­i­nary, on sab­bat­i­cal leave for this se­mes­ter as a group as­sem­bled by O’Mal­ley looked into the claims.

O’Mal­ley said that in the weeks that fol­lowed, “con­sul­ta­tions” with var­i­ous peo­ple about the arch­dio­cese and the three sem­i­nar­ies it spon­sors led him to ex­pand the probe. The law firm of Yurko, Salvesen & Remz will han­dle the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, led by former U.S. At­tor­ney Don­ald K. Stern, who made his name pros­e­cut­ing Bos­ton mob fig­ures in the 1990s.

Crit­ics pounced on this an­nounce­ment, say­ing it raises fur­ther sus­pi­cions.

“A pub­licly an­nounced in­ves­ti­ga­tion is not some­thing that’s done lightly,” said Peter Borre, a lay­man who founded the Coun­cil of Parishes in Bos­ton.

At­tor­ney Mitchell Garabedian, who rep­re­sents vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault, said, “It’s spin con­trol. They should have re­leased all doc­u­ments over to the AG and pro­vided an­swers to any ques­tions.”

The past few months have proved tur­bu­lent for the Catholic Church — and specif­i­cally O’Mal­ley, who faces ac­cu­sa­tions that he ig­nored claims of sex­ual abuse against now-dis­graced former Car­di­nal Theodore McCar­rick.

Since that news broke in Au­gust, some lo­cal church ac­tivists have called on O’Mal­ley to re­sign. O’Mal­ley chose not to travel with Pope Fran­cis to Ire­land the week af­ter the St. John’s news broke, and then he con­vened an emo­tional arch­dio­cese-wide meet­ing of priests the fol­low­ing week to ad­dress the sem­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the cover-up ac­cu­sa­tions against him­self.

STAFF PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI, BE­LOW; FILE PHO­TOS BY CHRIS CHRISTO, ABOVE, AND AN­GELA ROWLINGS, RIGHT

THOR­OUGH: Car­di­nal Sean O’Mal­ley, above, an­nounced an ex­panded in­ves­ti­ga­tion of sex abuse al­le­ga­tions that be­gan at St. John’s Sem­i­nary, be­low. Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, right, is fault­ing the arch­dio­cese for fail­ing to be fully trans­par­ent.

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