A retired NJ priest says he tried to report sexual abuse, but was initially 'dismissed' by the Boston Archdiocese

Monsignor Kenneth Lasch said it happened back in 1985.One of his parishioners, then a vulnerable 18-y...

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 9:38 AM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 9:38 AM

Monsignor Kenneth Lasch said it happened back in 1985.

One of his parishioners, then a vulnerable 18-year-old looking for guidance, was given alcohol by a then-church deacon. The deacon later became a priest and sexually abused the boy.

Belief, religion and spirituality

Boston

Catholic Church sexual abuse

Catholics and catholicism

Christianity

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Massachusetts

New Jersey

North America

Northeastern United States

Religious groups

Sex and gender issues

Sex crimes

Sexual assault

Society

United States

The Americas

After he found out about the incident years later, Lasch said he reported it to Archbishop of Boston Sean O'Malley, but that his efforts were dismissed.

"He was a vulnerable adult. [The deacon] got him drunk and groomed him into an encounter," Lasch said. A drunken teenager [who] has been groomed into a relationship is not complicit."

The man is a priest in Paterson, New Jersey. "It boggles my mind that the priest continues to serve," Lasch said

A letter to the cardinal

Lasch, who first told his story to the Boston Globe, said he wrote a letter to the Boston archbishop in January reporting the 1985 incident. The letter also included documents pertaining to the priest in question.

Lasch said he received a letter the next month from the Rev. Robert Kickham, O'Malley's secretary, who dismissed his written concerns, stating that O'Malley did not have jurisdiction over matters in Paterson, New Jersey, and Lasch was referred back to the Paterson diocese.

CNN's attempts to reach Kickham have been unsuccessful.

Lasch, who said he has been advocating for sexual abuse victims for the past 34 years, told CNN he found the response "dismissive" and "disappointing." He had previously reported the allegations to local prosecutors and the bishop of Paterson, but little resulted from those efforts.

Lasch also said he previously reported the incident to the apostolic nuncio to the United States, a Vatican representative, and was told that they relayed the message to Rome, but that "nothing seemed to come of that." The Vatican has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment.

O'Malley is also the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, established by Pope Francis in 2014. Lasch told CNN that although he knew O'Malley didn't have canonical or legal authority in Paterson, he hoped O'Malley would refer the case to Rome "and inquire about why nothing had transpired from the office through which the original dossier was sent from the [apostolic] nuncio.

"I was hoping that the cardinal would have some influence in Rome as to why the case never went anywhere," Lasch said. "I would hope that he would exercise the kind of moral authority that he has. He certainly has a moral force and that should count over at the Vatican, especially in light of what's going on in the country with sexual abuse."

Lasting trauma

The alleged incident occurred between a then 18-year-old male and a man who serves as a priest.

The 18-year-old had confided in the deacon at the time that he was thinking about becoming a priest, but he was concerned about the obligation of celibacy.

"The priest gave the victim alcohol and groomed him into a friendship. When the young man was home on Christmas vacation, he took him out to dinner and they got drunk and he abused him," Lasch said, declining to name the accused priest. "The young man went into a tailspin. There was a lot of damage emotionally; it causes a type of trauma, guilt."

Lasch, now retired, said he didn't find out about the alleged incident until years later, when the male victim, who does not wish to be identified, asked Lasch to baptize his second son.

"I had some suspicions about the priest and I asked [the victim] in a direct question: Did this priest ever approach you inappropriately? And he said, 'My god, yes.'"

A change in protocol

The Boston Archdiocese announced in a statement posted Sunday that O'Malley revised the protocol for letters sent to the Commission for the Protection of Minors. Previously, all letters would be reviewed by his secretary and the secretary would respond on all matters that "fell outside the mandate of the commission." Now, the Boston Archdiocese states that the cardinal himself will "personally review all letters that come to his office related to the commission or are abuse related, even if they address matters outside his authority," according to the statement.

O'Malley has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment, but in an interview with the Vatican News on Sunday, O'Malley called bringing the stories of sexual abuse survivors to Catholic leadership "crucial."

"If the church proves unable to respond wholeheartedly and make this issue a priority, all of our other activities of evangelization, works of mercy and education, are all going to suffer. This must be the priority we concentrate on right now," O'Malley said.

Lasch told CNN that after the Boston Globe wrote about his story, he received an email on September 8 from O'Malley telling him that he had sent letters to Rome about the alleged abuse, with the documentation that Lasch had originally provided. He also received a copy of the letter, as well as a copy of a letter O'Malley sent to the apostolic nuncio, also informing them of what had been done.

As for whether he has faith in O'Malley's leadership, Lasch said he wants to. "I really do. He's saying a lot of the right things, but I want to see some action."

Clarification: This story has been updated to correctly identify the position the alleged abuser held in the church.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30674

Reported Deaths: 1107
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds248039
DeSoto157216
Madison129634
Jones112049
Neshoba98571
Rankin91612
Lauderdale90879
Harrison88610
Forrest86042
Scott77015
Jackson61616
Copiah60216
Washington5789
Leake57519
Holmes55141
Lee54718
Wayne54213
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51118
Yazoo5056
Leflore48651
Lowndes48312
Grenada4795
Lamar4567
Lincoln45434
Pike43112
Monroe39930
Lafayette3894
Sunflower3737
Attala35923
Covington3475
Panola3456
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Adams31018
Simpson3103
Pontotoc2836
Tate27810
Chickasaw27618
Marion27511
Claiborne27010
Jasper2616
Noxubee2618
Winston2596
Pearl River25432
Clay24910
Marshall2263
Smith22011
Union2079
Clarke20624
Walthall2004
Coahoma1996
Kemper17814
Lawrence1741
Yalobusha1717
Carroll16411
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1312
Tippah13011
Calhoun1294
Hancock12613
Webster12510
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite892
George863
Tishomingo781
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn682
Perry664
Stone641
Franklin452
Sharkey350
Benton340
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
Etowah72713
DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4896
Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1070
Washington1057
Cherokee857
Geneva790
Lamar751
Fayette681
Clay642
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 97°
Columbus
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 102°
Oxford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Starkville
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather