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The Region

San Bernardino Priest Is 2nd Tied to Boston Scandal

Inland Empire diocese was not informed until September of abuse allegations made in May. The cleric is barred from further ministry.

January 14, 2003|Larry B. Stammer | Times Staff Writer

A second Boston priest who served in the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino is facing allegations of sexual abuse in Boston and has been forbidden from further ministry in the Inland Empire, diocesan officials said Monday.

Father Paul McLaughlin, 72, has not been accused of molestation while in San Bernardino. In May, a month before his ministry in San Bernardino ended, he was accused of having molested a boy in Boston in the 1960s.

Boston church officials did not tell their counterparts in San Bernardino about the accusation until September.

"We sent a letter to Boston expressing our disappointment we had not been told of the May allegation earlier," said Father Howard Lincoln, a spokesman for Bishop Gerald R. Barnes.

"We said to them, this put us again in the untenable position of explaining why a priest from another diocese who had received a serious allegation was residing in our diocese."

Last year, San Bernardino officials discovered that a priest who had been sent to them from Boston in 1990, Paul Shanley, had repeatedly been accused of molesting boys. Boston officials had not informed the San Bernardino diocese about Shanley's past.

His case was among those that fanned a yearlong sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church.

The San Bernardino diocese has not yet directly informed several parishes where McLaughlin served of the accusations against him.

McLaughlin served part time from the fall of 2001 until April 2002 at St. Francis of La Quinta Church in La Quinta, and he celebrated one Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert. He may also have served in other parishes in the Coachella Valley, but a diocesan spokesman said he could not immediately name them.

Instead of informing the parishes, Barnes placed a notice on the diocese's Web site; it said only that three visiting priests, McLaughlin among them, did not have the "necessary faculties" to minister in the diocese. The notice offered no explanation.

Barnes added a request: "Should you be approached by the following clergy, I please ask that you have them contact me as soon as possible."

Lincoln said the parishes had not been directly informed because the Boston archdiocese had not yet told McLaughlin of the allegation against him.

Lincoln said that an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor had been lodged against a second visiting priest referred to on the Web site, Father Esteban Trujillo.

The priest's religious order in Mexico, the Order of St. Augustine, told church officials that the accusation had been investigated. It said no evidence had been found that the allegation was true.

But Lincoln said the religious order had not forwarded the recommendations that would be necessary to allow the priest to continue ministry in San Bernardino.

Trujillo is believed to be in Mexico, Lincoln said.

Trujillo served from late 2001 until July 2002 at St. George Catholic Church in Fontana and St. Charles Borreomeo Church in Bloomington, Lincoln said.

The third priest identified on the Web site, Father John Murphy, was denied faculties to minister in San Bernardino for reasons that were not connected to sexual abuse of minors, Lincoln said.

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