Priests sexually abused teenage girls, used cocaine and other drugs, and one had an affair with a female parishioner, according to allegations contained in personnel files maintained by the Boston Archdiocese in the US.
The 3,000 pages of files on eight priests were released by lawyers representing people who claim they were sexually abused by clergy.
The lawyers are seeking to show that Cardinal Bernard Law routinely transferred priests to other parishes even after accusations of child abuse or other wrongdoing.
Last week, the lawyers said they would begin releasing the personnel records of 65 priests, which they have access to via a court order. The priests are not targeted in the abuse lawsuit from which the court order stems.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said she could not comment on the specific allegations contained in the personnel files.
But she said, “Some of the information contained in those documents is truly horrible. We’re committed to helping any and all survivors.”
The files included those for Father Robert Meffan, who allegedly recruited girls in the late 1960s to become nuns and then sexually abused them while assigned in Weymouth, Massachusetts.
The allegations are contained in letters sent in 1993 by Sister Catherine Mulkerrin to her boss, the Father John McCormack, who was a top aide to Law and is now a New Hampshire bishop.
Meffan allegedly would tell the girls to perform sexual acts as a way of progressing with their religious studies. He also allegedly participated in sexual acts with four girls at the same time, one of the girls told Mulkerrin, according to a 1993 memo.
“They were all young girls planning to be nuns,” said lawyer Roderick MacLeish, who represents 247 plaintiffs among dozens of lawsuits against the archdiocese.
Meffan told The Boston Globe the allegations in the files were true and that he still believed his sexual relationships with the teenage girls were “beautiful” and ”spiritual,” and were intended to bring them closer to God.
“What I was trying to show them is that Christ is human and you should love him as a human being,” Meffan said. “I felt that by having this little bit of intimacy with them that this is what it would be like with Christ.”
Father Thomas Forry allegedly built a house on Cape Cod for a woman with whom he carried on an 11-year affair, the files show.
The woman had gone to him seeking advice because of problems in her marriage. The woman’s son later alleged that Forry made sexual advances on him.
Father Richard Buntel allegedly used cocaine with boys.
Mulkerrin, in one memo to McCormack, said an alleged victim told her that Buntel provided cocaine to the boy when he was 15.
“He would snort it in the priest’s room ‘every time I went’ and, in a way, it seemed like an exchange for sex which also happened every time,” Mulkerrin wrote.
Bishop McCormack’s spokesman, Patrick McGee, would not comment on the documents, saying the bishop had not read the files. McCormack has said he often did not know about allegations against priests because of poor record keeping.