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By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 26, 2004

Ripple effects in Alaska:

A year after breaking the silence of his sexual abuse by a Catholic priest and exposing the shameful secrets of the Archdiocese of Anchorage [Alaska] in a dramatic television interview, Service High School principal Pat Podvin has apparently killed himself. Anchorage police said they found his body Wednesday morning and his death appeared to be self-inflicted. ...

On Feb. 6, 2003, Podvin appeared in a televised interview with Channel 2's Maria Downey and declared he had been sexually abused as an 18-year-old by Monsignor Frank Murphy, a priest who worked in parishes around Anchorage from 1960 to 1985. Podvin said he was going public because the Anchorage Archdiocese had failed to acknowledge that any local priest had sexually abused youngsters here, and he was also critical of retired Archbishop Francis Hurley, to whom he complained about Murphy in 1982 but who never personally responded afterward until after he went public.

In 1985, the priest who molested Podvin and several other boys came to the Archdiocese of Boston on a "lend-lease" program. Attorney Rod MacLeish attempted to question Cardinal Law about Murphy's assignment:

MacLeish. Did you appoint Fr. Frank Murphy as chaplain at the hospital in Methuen?

Law. I'm not sure that I appointed him or -- because he's not a priest of this, of this Archdiocese, but he certainly would have -- there needed to have been some reference to our Personnel Office for him to serve as chaplain ...

MacLeish. Cardinal Law, do you have a memory that before Reverend Murphy came to the Boston Archdiocese, that he had had problems in Anchorage, Alaska, relative to child pornography and sexual abuse of adolescents?

Law. I don't have a clear knowledge of that. ...

MacLeish. Based on the protocols that existed and practices that existed back in 1986, would it have been part of the practice in the Boston Archdiocese to have a priest coming into the Archdiocese who had allegations against him assessed to determine whether or not he would be a risk to children here if he was put into service?

Law. Well, as you know, the policy evolved, and the policy of not receiving people with problems is -- I mean, the challenge of that review of a person coming from outside is initially handled, and has been for some years -- I can't -- by the form that we asked to be filled out. And as the policy evolved, we simply -- we would not accept someone in with a problem.

Clear, I trust? Now guess who spelled Murphy when he was varying his recreations -- Boston's own Ronald Paquin:

"Two weeks ago, I covered the entire week for Fr. Frank Murphy while he went on vacation," Paquin wrote in March 1992. "I became the hospital chaplain and I was proud of the good job I did. It was a great teachable moment for me."

It was teachable all right. Paquin was accused of at least 13 incidents of abuse over two decades and pleaded guilty in 2002 to raping an altar boy, for which he is now serving 12-15 years. Frank Murphy is retired and living on a ranch in New Mexico. Pat Podvin is dead.

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  • Posted by: shrink - Feb. 26, 2004 4:42 PM ET USA

    Homing pigeons know which way to fly: An Alaskan paper reports the retired Rev Murphy was trained in the priesthood at..... let me take wild guess: "He studied at St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Mass." When he retires, he settles in.... another wild guess: "Cuba, NM" about a one hour ride from Jemez Springs, NM, where the Reverend was treated for 'addictions' in 1985.

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