A Roman Catholic bishop has acknowledged helping promote a priest now accused of raping children despite considering him a "troubled priest" who endorsed sex between men and boys.
Bishop Thomas V. Daily, a once top-ranking official in the Archdiocese of Boston, said in a deposition made public Monday that he was aware of complaints about the Rev. Paul Shanley, yet promoted him anyway.
Daily, now leader of New York's Brooklyn Diocese, picked Shanley to become administrator and acting pastor at St. Jean's parish in Newton, Mass., in 1984, where he allegedly went on to molest and rape boys.
Shanley, 71, was indicted in June on 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery for allegedly sexually abusing boys from 1979 to 1989. Shanley has pleaded innocent to the charges.
Daily offered the sworn testimony in August in civil lawsuits filed by three men who claim they were sexually abused by Shanley at St. Jean's. The same men are involved in criminal complaints against Shanley.
In the deposition, Daily acknowledges that he considered Shanley a "troubled priest" who needed help. He said he knew Shanley had attended a meeting of the North American Man-Boy Love Association and had spoken in favor of the group.
But under questioning from civil attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., Daily said he had not received any reports that Shanley actually engaged in such activities himself.
"The only thing, the only saving feature of it is that we are talking about ideas and opinions in his promotion verbally...to my knowledge at the time, he wasn't involved in activities," Daily said.
"But having said that, I would have very great regrets," Daily said.
"You have regrets you made the appointment?" asked MacLeish.
"I think I would have done much better if I hadn't made the appointment," Daily replied.
Frank DeRosa, a spokesman for the Diocese of Brooklyn, had no immediate comment on the deposition. Boston attorney Wilson D. Rogers Jr., who represented Daily during the deposition, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
MacLeish, who represents men who say they were abused by Shanley after Daily appointed him to St. Jean's, said the deposition shows Daily had critical information about Shanley before he sent him to the parish.
"It's so tragic that none of the information that Bishop Daily possessed was shared with the parishioners of St. Jean's. If it had been, obviously, none of this would have happened," MacLeish said.
Daily has been bishop of the Brooklyn diocese since 1990. He left the Archdiocese of Boston in September 1984 — about six months after Cardinal Bernard Law arrived in Boston — to become bishop in Palm Beach, Fla.
In March, about two months after the clergy sexual abuse scandal exploded in Boston, Daily issued a statement in New York in which he apologized to victims of another priest, John Geoghan.
Geoghan's case sparked the scandal when court documents revealed that church officials had shuffled him from parish to parish after receiving complaints he was sexually abusing boys.
Shanley's trial had been scheduled to begin Nov. 5, but has been postponed. No new trial date has been scheduled yet.