tp-martin-currie-105

St. John's Archbishop Martin Currie told CBC News what a sexual-abuse survivor told the church about Bishop Raymond Lahey in 1989. ((CBC))

A sexual-abuse survivor told Newfoundland and Labrador church officials in the 1980s that he had seen pornography at the home of Bishop Raymond Lahey, who's now facing child-porn charges, the Catholic archbishop of St. John's said Monday.

Archbishop Martin Currie said former Portugal Cove, N.L., priest Kevin Molloy contacted him last week to say that in 1989, Shane Earle told Molloy that he had seen pornography in Lahey's home.

At the time, Lahey was the bishop for St. George's diocese in western Newfoundland. In 2003 he moved to Nova Scotia to head the diocese of Antigonish.

"I asked him what he did with [that information], and Father Molloy mentioned that he had taken it to the appropriate authorities. In this case, it would have been Archbishop [Alphonsus] Penney," Currie said.

Penney was not available for an interview Monday, but CBC News reached Molloy in Florida where he is now a priest. Molloy confirmed what Currie told CBC News.

Molloy said he spoke directly with Lahey after he heard from Earle.

"I called [Lahey] and I told him what had come to me through Shane Earle, and I detected then that Bishop Lahey then was kind of upset by this news," Molloy said. "I told him that this was serious stuff and he just asked me if anything further would occur, would I keep contact with him, and that's the last. I never heard from him again. I never heard any further details."

Molloy said he considered it a very serious issue at the time, but he doesn't know whether Penney pursued the matter any further then.

Shane Earle was sexually abused as a boy at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's in the 1970s and 1980s. Earle was financially compensated for the damages caused by the abuse.

Earle said he told police and an inquiry into abuse at Mount Cashel that he saw child pornography in Lahey's home more than 20 years ago.

Possession of child pornography was not illegal in the 1980s; it became a crime in Canada in 1993.

Police disavowal

On Monday, police officials in St. John's told CBC News that after hearing last week of Earle's comments, they searched through their files and were unable to find any record of Earle's claims.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said it reviewed hundreds of pages of investigation notes, interview transcripts and tapes.

Lahey, 69, stepped down as bishop of the Antigonish diocese on Sept. 26, a day after he was charged with possessing and importing child pornography but before those charges were made public.

Days later, Ottawa police revealed the charges, saying Lahey had been stopped at the Ottawa International Airport on Sept. 15 and his laptop seized for allegedly containing child pornography.

Lahey was released on $9,000 bail and his next Ottawa court appearance is on Nov. 4.