Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 12, 2009
Priest took pornography allegations to his archbishop 20 years ago
Mount Cashel survivor told him he saw pornography in Lahey's home in 1986
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - A retired priest of the St. John's, NL, Archdiocese says he took an allegation that pornography was seen in the home of Bishop Raymond Lahey to his archbishop 20 years ago.
But Father Kevin Molloy said he does not know what, if anything, Archbishop Alphonsus Penney did to follow up on that information.
In 1989, Shane Earle visited Molloy after he had told police about sexual abuse he and others had experienced at the Mount Cashel Orphanage run by Irish Christian Brothers, Molloy said in an interview from Florida.
Because Molloy used to celebrate Mass occasionally at Mount Cashel, Earle wanted reassurance he had done the right thing, the priest said. Molloy said he assured him that he had.
Lahey, 69, was charged with possessing and importing child pornography after being arrested at the Ottawa airport Sept. 15. He resigned as bishop of Antigonish, N.S., Sept. 26 and turned himself in to Ottawa police on Oct. 1.
Earle's recollection was already a few years old when he spoke to Molloy. In 1986, Lahey, who was then a priest in the St. John's Archdiocese, also used to visit the orphanage. On the occasional weekend, he would bring some boys home to his residence in Mount Pearl.
"It was on one of those visits that Shane Earle noticed pornography," said Molloy. "He was kind of surprised to find pornography in the priest's house. And I certainly was too."
Earle did not go into detail and the priest thought it would be "too prurient" to ask him what he saw or whether they were magazines or videos.
"For me pornography was a red flag enough," he said. He promised Earle he would follow up and he did.
First he went to Archbishop Penney to tell him he had some "bad news with respect to Bishop Lahey" who had been Penney's vicar general before becoming bishop of St. George's.
Then Molloy phoned Lahey in Cornerbrook and told him about the allegation.
"I told him that I was very disappointed to have to call him on the matter but it was brought to my attention by Shane Earle that pornography was found in his residence when he was parish priest in Mount Pearl," Molloy said. "We didn't discuss, he didn't challenge me. He didn't argue with me at all."
"All he simply said was would you keep me informed if anything subsequently comes from this. I told him I would and that was the last I heard of it."
Lahey had become a bishop in 1986, three years before the porn allegation was made. He was subsequently installed in Antigonish, N.S., in 2003.
Molloy retired to Florida 10 years ago where he works as a full-time assistant at a parish in the St. Petersburg Diocese. He had been spokesman for the St. John's Archdiocese during the abuse scandals that included not only Mount Cashel but also many diocesan priests as well.
Penney resigned when the Church's own investigation, the Winter Commission Report, was released, revealing that he had not exercised proper leadership. Penney, 85, still lives in St. John's, but was unavailable for comment.
Earle has reported he saw catalogues showing pictures of teenaged boys. St. John's Police have found no evidence in their files that this was ever reported to them.
"Keep in mind that pornography is not criminal," Molloy said, pointing out how one can go into a drugstore and buy a Playboy Magazine. Possession of child pornography only became illegal in 1993.
But legal or illegal, the priest said it is "most reprehensible to have that kind of literature anyway."
"To have to descend to pornography to get your jollies there's something wrong."
Molloy said he was stunned by the charges against Lahey. But he does not know if there was more he could have done.
"I never heard a word about it until last week and heard that Bishop Ray had been picked up at the Ottawa airport and charged with child pornography," he said.
"It never dawned on me to check back and say 'Well Ray, what did you do with the information I gave you back in the 1980s?'" he said, noting that he was a priest in another diocese.
Molloy remembers Lahey as Grade 12 student. He described him as reserved, very intelligent and highly educated.
Molloy described him as a "fine churchman, a great liturgist" who had been lauded for his great concern for sexual abuse survivors in settling their lawsuit in Antigonish. "That he himself is charged with child pornography, it's just absolutely incredible."
Molloy rejects media assertions that priestly celibacy is partly to blame for clergy sexual abuse.
"I have dealt with situations where fathers were involved with their own children," he said. The number of parents charged with incest is "frightening."
Molloy said he feels sorry for the people of Antigonish, and for those of St. John's "because he was one of ours. We were so honoured to have him elevated to the episcopacy. And now we have to share the shame. It's humbling, no doubt about this."
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