The Vatican has defrocked the priest who was the first in Massachusetts convicted of sexual abuse more than two decades ago, the Boston Archdiocese said Friday.
In 1984, Eugene O'Sullivan was sentenced to probation after he admitted sodomizing a 13-year-old altar boy. A condition of his sentence was that he not be allowed to work with children. But O'Sullivan was later assigned to four New Jersey parishes. He was recalled to Boston in 1992 after church officials learned of another allegation against him dating to his time in Massachusetts.
The Vatican's action to defrock O'Sullivan means he may no longer function as a priest in any capacity, except to offer absolution to the dying. Defrocked priests also are cut off from any financial support from the archdiocese.
Documents from O'Sullivan's personnel file, made public in 2002, show that that the archdiocese was alerted as early as the 1960s to allegations against him.
In a 2003 deposition he gave in lawsuits filed against the archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law defended his decision to allow O'Sullivan to transfer, saying he wanted to give O'Sullivan a chance at "redemption."
Law resigned as archbishop of Boston but remains a cardinal.
A second priest, Paul E. McDonald, also was defrocked. According to McDonald's personnel file, he was accused of sexually abusing several boys in the 1960s, when he was a priest at St. Joseph Church in Boston.