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Coughlin Observers Saw Only Harmless Affection

February 14, 1993

This is in reference to the recent articles regarding Father Richard Coughlin and the All-American Boys Chorus.

I have been associated with the chorus for approximately 13 years--first as a parent of one of the boys, then as a volunteer, later the secretary and a board member.

My son, Jason, auditioned with the chorus when he was 8 years old, became a full-fledged chorus member at 9, left the chorus at about 16 and then was a staff member as a sound technician until he recently left the group to attend college in Northern California.

In all those years, never did I see anything inappropriate; nothing in the slightest.

Never once did I sense that something was amiss; never. No gut feelings; no "parent antenna" going up; nothing. I only saw a hard-working, kind, admired director.

Yes, he was affectionate. The boys loved him and still do. Father Coughlin was affectionate with the parents as well. What a relief, frankly, to see love and affection surrounding the boys, and the parents, too, instead of a cold, unfeeling learning and training atmosphere. But never, never did I see or sense anything wrong.

I spent literally hundreds and thousands of hours over the years as a volunteer, in very close contact with the boys, the staff and the board. I can only say from my own personal experience that it was all open and above board. There was never anything in all my memories that would even come close to impropriety; nothing.

The training, friendships, adventures and travels that my son experienced with the chorus are irreplaceable and unforgettable.

Jason has only positive comments and memories of his days with the boys, with Father Coughlin, with the staff.

The musical program itself is of the highest quality. Tony (Manrique), the staff, the board deserve all our continued support.

SHIRLEY WERNER

Costa Mesa

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