November 19, 2005

Charges avoided in case of priest

Mercury News

By Denise Lavoie
Associated Press

The Boston Archdiocese avoided federal charges Friday by agreeing to be more open about priests' backgrounds as part of a settlement with prosecutors investigating whether the church transferred a priest to a Menlo Park Veterans Affairs hospital without revealing accusations that he ``fooled around with kids.''

The church was accused of withholding information from federal authorities about the Rev. William Scanlan when he became a Veterans Affairs chaplain at the Peninsula hospital in 1999.

U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan agreed to end a grand jury investigation if the church agreed to new reforms and reporting requirements.

Department of Veterans Affairs and San Francisco archdiocese officials have said they were never told about sex abuse claims against Scanlan from the late 1980s or that he had been ordered into psychiatric treatment. Scanlan also occasionally celebrated Mass in Redwood City, but retired in 2002 and apparently moved back to the East Coast.

Under the deal, the church is required to provide background information on priests in the military, the Veterans Affairs and federal prisons. It also must provide detailed information about chaplain candidates, audit its policies for child protection, promptly report allegations of abuse and implement other anti-abuse programs and internal controls.

The Boston archdiocese said in a statement that it is pleased with the settlement and ``has consistently maintained that there was no basis for a criminal prosecution.''

Posted by kshaw at November 19, 2005 06:46 AM