Skip to content
Priest advised to put abuse apology in file
BOSTON - A priest who admitted molesting teen-age 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 claimed he did not realize that 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. Over 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 clearly concerned that Coleman may have abused other boys.
Coleman is listed in the archdiocese directory as being on health leave.