December 18, 2002
BOSTON -- A priest who admitted molesting teenage boys while they slept was advised by a church review board in the 1990s to put an apology in his personnel file for use in case more victims came forward.
His case was outlined in the latest batch of personnel files to be released by lawyers suing the Boston Archdiocese over its handling of child-molesting priests. The latest batch consists of about 3,000 pages on 13 priests.
The documents contain a variety of allegations, including those made against the Rev. Joseph K. Coleman, who was accused by a woman of molesting her 14-year-old son in 1987.
When confronted by church officials, Coleman acknowledged that while drinking heavily, he had touched the boy on two occasions and once performed a sexual act, all while the boy was sleeping. Coleman said he did not realize the boy was aware of what he had done to him.
Coleman also acknowledged performing sexual acts on a 15-year-old boy twice while he was sleeping.
"He admits to a strong attraction in this area of sexuality and has touched other young boys in the genitals by way of a quick brush or touch. Again, it was done while they were sleeping," a 1987 internal church memo reads.
Church officials sent Coleman to the Institute of Living, a psychiatric facility in Hartford, Conn. During the next six years, Coleman was not allowed to return to parish work but was given a position as chaplain at two Catholic hospitals and was allowed to say weekly Masses.
In 1993, Coleman's case went before the archdiocese's review board, which was established as part of a more stringent sexual abuse policy prompted by a scandal involving a priest who pleaded guilty to molesting 28 children.
The board recommended that Coleman continue therapy, but appeared concerned that Coleman may have abused other boys.
"The board suggests he consider placing an apology in his file for any victim who might come forward in the future," reads a 1993 summary.
Coleman is listed in the archdiocese directory as being on health leave. The archdiocese's personnel office said Tuesday only that he was not currently assigned anywhere. His home phone number was not listed.
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Another priest file released Tuesday contains a church memo describing the Rev. Gerard Creighton as "homicidal" and fixated on schemes to make money -- from allegations he accepted money from female parishioners to complaints he sold furniture out of the parish garage.
In 1973, the Rev. John McNally, the priest at the parish in Revere where Creighton was an assistant, wrote a letter to then-Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, imploring him for help.
"For 22 years, this man has been transferred from one parish to another -- something like 17 times -- but no one has ever faced the real problem. The man is sick and needs help," McNally wrote.
In 1979, Creighton was placed on a leave of absence. He retired six years later. A decade after he retired, a woman said Creighton molested her when she was a teenage parishioner in Boston in 1958. The archdiocese agreed to pay the woman $150,000 and pay for her counseling.
A memo from a church official indicates Creighton denied any sexual misconduct.
Efforts to reach Creighton on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
BALTIMORE -- A former altar boy acquitted of attempted murder for shooting a priest who allegedly molested him will not have to go to jail for weapons violations under a deal reached Tuesday.
Instead, Dontee Stokes could spend 11 months under house arrest and three years on probation.
Stokes, 26, was cleared of attempted murder, reckless endangerment and assault Monday but was convicted of three gun charges in the wounding of the Rev. Maurice Blackwell. Stokes admitted shooting the priest but claimed temporary insanity.