Bishop Accountability
 
  Manchester NH Resources – November 2002

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Alleged abuse victim meets with church task force

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 2, 2002

Paul Ciaramitaro gets upset when he sees Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack smile on television.
Ciaramitaro doesn't smile much.

The 31-year-old Gloucester, Mass., man said he struggles with depression, loneliness, inability to trust and post-traumatic stress disorder.

All, he said, are the result of having been molested by a Catholic priest whom McCormack knew was abusing children, yet allowed to remain in ministry and even be promoted to pastor of St. Ann Church in Gloucester in 1985.

Ciaramitaro said the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham molested him at least a dozen times as a teenager in 1985 and 1986 when Ciaramitaro worked part-time at St. Ann rectory.

Now he wants an apology from McCormack, who was Cardinal Bernard F. Law's secretary for ministerial personnel when Birmingham was promoted pastor despite numerous warnings from parents as far back as the 1960s that Birmingham had been abusing children at other parishes.

"I'm asking for a public apology," Ciaramitaro said yesterday after the Manchester Diocesan Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policy met in Manchester.

"McCormack had a lot to do with this. Where is his accountability? He did not do his job," he said.

Ciaramitaro is one of about 55 people who claimed in a lawsuit that Birmingham, who died in 1989, sexually abused them while he served at various Massachusetts parishes.

He also belongs to the Survivors of Joseph Birmingham, a group of Birmingham's alleged victims.

Cardinal Law met with 70 to 100 members of the group at a Dracut, Mass., parish Tuesday and apologized to them for the hurt they suffered.

Robert Morton of Newport, who is a member of the group but not an abuse victim, said the Survivors of Joseph Birmingham asked for a similar meeting with McCormack in the spring.

"We got stonewalled," Morton said.

Ciaramitaro encouraged the task force in their work.

"I like what you're doing. It sounds like you're trying," he said. "It's a start."

"So much has been taken from me and we can prevent that from happening," he added.

Morton asked the task force if a representative from a victim's group could sit on the task force.

Peter Flood, who represents the lay group Voice of the Faithful in New Hampshire, also requested his group have a seat on the task force.

"I think one of the people from Voice of the Faithful would be helpful," Flood said.

Task force chairman Donna P. Sytek said this would have to be approved by the bishop.



Priest leaves Jaffrey after admitting affair

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 3, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=67091&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=1

Jaffrey -- The Catholic priest who recently admitted he had a homosexual affair with a teenager is leaving St. Patrick Church, which was plunged into turmoil by the admission.

The Rev. Roland Cote, who worked at Nashua’s St. Louis de Gonzague Church until June, told parishioners he will leave today. Parish secretary Liz DiRusso said Cote is expected to say weekend Masses.

Cote admitted to parishioners in September he had a long-term affair with a teenage boy in the 1980s. Authorities investigated him in April after the teenager, who is now 35, told authorities the priest sexually abused him as a minor in the 1980s.

Prosecutors said they could not bring charges because the teenager was older than 16 when he first met Cote.

Bishop John McCormack transferred Cote to Jaffrey in June without informing parishioners in his new parish about his past.

Parishioners told The Union Leader they weren’t told where Cote is going, or who will replace him.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester and delegate for sexual misconduct, would not comment.

“There is a relationship between a pastor and his parish,” Arsenault said.

Diocesan officials claimed the teenager told them he was 18 when the affair began. The diocese’s sexual misconduct policy defines a minor as someone younger than 18.

Prosecutors said the teenager was at least 16½ years old when he first met Cote, but they could never determine his exact age.

Cote’s transfer to St. Patrick last summer followed the controversial departure of the previous pastor, the Rev. James “Seamus” MacCormack.

Two months after resigning from the parish, MacCormack filed a lawsuit accusing the bishop and other church officials of waging a campaign to keep him silent about a pornography collection discovered in the residence of a Manchester priest who died in 1999. The diocese denied the allegation.



Bishop replaces pastor, apologizes

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 4, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=67172&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354

Manchester -- Bishop has apologized for the problems faced by parishioners of a church whose priest had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy, and has named an interim replacement priest.

“I am sorry for the pain, confusion and division that has resulted from this series of events at St. Patrick Parish in Jaffrey,” McCormack said in a statement Sunday.

McCormack, bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, transferred the Rev. Roland Cote to Jaffrey in June from Nashua’s St. Louis de Gonzague parish, without informing parishioners in his new parish about his past.

Cote admitted to parishioners in September he had a long-term affair with a teenage boy in the 1980s. Authorities investigated him in April after the teenager, now 35, told authorities the priest sexually abused him as a minor in the 1980s.

Prosecutors said they could not bring charges because the boy was over 16 when he first met Cote.

McCormack wrote a letter earlier to parishioners telling them that though Cote’s actions were wrong, they did not violate the Diocese of Manchester’s policies on child sex abuse.

He also said he was confident Cote “had not engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor and that he is not a risk to children or young people.”

“I am confident that I made the right decision even though it was made at the expense of your knowing about his entire personal background,” McCormack said.Cote told parishioners Friday he was resigning immediately as their priest.

“During the past months, the divisions within the parish have become worse and this reality has been emotionally and physically draining to parishioners as well as me,” he said Sunday in a statement. He said he needed time to rest and “to put things back together.”

In his statement, McCormack said he has accepted the resignation and granted Cote a leave of absence for medical reasons.

He said he has appointed the Rev. William Quirk, a retired priest, as administrator of St. Patrick Parish until he can appoint a new pastor.

“To those who disagree with my decisions and remain upset, it is my intention and hope that the steps we take in the months ahead will help you regain confidence in your parish community and in me,” he said.

He also said that upon the recommendation of a Diocesan Review Board, he had asked Cote to participate in an evaluation “to assure me . . . of his ability to fulfill his resolve to live a chaste and celibate life as a priest.”

He said Cote “willingly participated in this evaluation, which has confirmed that he is resolved to live a chaste and celibate life and that he is not a risk to minors.”



Task force gets earful about abuse policy

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 9, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=67508&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=1

Manchester -- In full listening mode, they heard calls for true church reform, including repeated demands for the resignation of Bishop John McCormack.

A task force reviewing the Diocese of Manchester’s sexual misconduct policy held the second of four “listening sessions” Friday afternoon. The sessions provide Catholics and others a chance to offer input on the policy and matters relating to the clergy abuse scandal.

About 50 people crowded into a St. Pius X Church hall, and many of those who spoke questioned how effective the task force would be considering it reports directly to McCormack. Many sought a review board independent of a bishop who they consider highly culpable for the past shielding of abusive priests.

“You have a daunting task,” Manchester resident Lorraine Lamontagne said to the 12-member task force. “I’m skeptical of your authority in the matter. I have no faith in the bishop. He’s a detriment to the diocese and to the recovery of everyone.”

Lamontagne furthered her criticism by asking the diocese to sell its elaborate Manchester home for the bishop and have him “join the real world.” She also questioned McCormack’s recent handling of a former Nashua priest’s admission that he had a relationship with a teenager.

Many expressed skepticism that the task force could fulfill its goal to evaluate and strengthen the policy, while others vented anger toward McCormack’s handling of abusive priests when he worked for the Archdiocese of Boston. No one spoke in defense of the church or its policy.

Nancy Rollins – director of the state Division for Children, Youth and Families – said the diocese ignored policy guidelines she had suggested. The current policy does not require a report to legal authorities if an abuser is unknown, but state law requires the reporting of all suspected abuse cases, Rollins said.

Further, the diocese lists the reporting of abuse as fourth on its procedural list for complaint investigations, but this should rank first, Rollins said.

She also criticized the policy’s guideline for the diocese to meet with an alleged victim and accused perpetrator prior to determining if the case adheres to reporting requirements. This compromises any investigation, she said.The session started with a college professor demanding wholesale changes on how the church conducts itself.

“The task force must courageously carry through with its recommendations,” said James Farrell, an associate professor of communications at the University of New Hampshire. “Will you have the courage to find the truth . . . or will you merely do the bishop’s errand?”

Farrell, a self-described devout Catholic, pointed to how the term “child” does not appear in the policy, but he said McCormack has made numerous comments this year about protecting children. He asked for the diocese to fully disclose its abuse files, information on financial settlements and details on all other past matters that he essentially deemed unsavory.

Farrell and a few other speakers mentioned their displeasure with McCormack’s handling of the Rev. Roland Cote, who until this year was pastor of St. Louis de Gonzague Church in Nashua. Cote this year told the diocese about a past relationship with a teenager who the diocese claims was of consenting age at the time, and shortly thereafter the priest was transferred to St. Patrick Church in Jaffrey.

When parishioners there pressed Cote on the relationship, he denied it. But McCormack admitted to the relationship during a civil deposition involving his handling of Boston priests, so Cote soon apologized to his new parish.

Outraged St. Patrick parishioners chided McCormack for the transfer, and Cote has since resigned.

Ellen Hayward of Manchester asked that the Jaffrey parish have a say in finding its new pastor, including oversight on interviews and a candidate’s records. Farrell said McCormack’s handling of Cote shows the “bishop will disregard policy if it is in his interests to do so.”

Farrell added: “If Cote can resign, then it is true times 10, true times 100” for McCormack.

Scott Maurer of Goffstown questioned why the diocese needs a lengthy sexual abuse policy or the work of a task force. “It’s very simple. If a crime has been committed, simply report it to police – end of story,” he said.

The task force consists mostly of laypeople, with one priest and one nun. Members include former New Hampshire House Speaker Donna Sytek, BAE Systems executive Richard Ashooh, Bishop Guertin teacher Robert Goyette and his wife, Susan Goyette, a medical transcriptionist at St. Joseph Family Medical Center.

Sytek said the committee will report to the bishop by Christmas with policy suggestions. But Farrell said any changes “will amount to little more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” if McCormack is in charge of implementing them.



Bishop must resign, abuse policy panel told

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 9, 2002

Several Catholics yesterday told the task force reviewing the Manchester Diocese's sexual abuse policy that Bishop John B. McCormack must resign before the panel's work can restore trust in the church.

Any new policy "will be viewed as little more than a hollow sham if it must rest its authority on the credibility of a bishop who, while in Boston, violated law, morality and common sense in protecting pedophile priests," James Farrell said at the task force's second "listening session," held in Manchester.

McCormack's alleged mishandling of child sexual abuse by clergy in the Boston Archdiocese and recent cases of priestly misconduct here prove he is a crippled moral leader, said Farrell, who in the spring wrote a letter calling for McCormack's resignation.

A new policy also must hold accountable any bishop or church administrator who protects predatory priests or conspires to hide the abuse, Farrell said.

These bishops should face dismissal from ministry just as an offending priest does, he added.
The current policy does not hold church hierarchy accountable.

State Division for Children, Youth and Families Director Nancy Rollins said the policy must make compliance with mandatory reporting requirements of suspected child abuse to civil authorities its foremost and immediate priority.

It should be the first step in investigating any complaint and not the fourth, where it is found in the current policy, Rollins said.

She also recommended that it not be diocesan practice to hold initial meetings with the alleged victim and the accused clergy before deciding whether to contact state and local authorities as required by law.

"This could compromise an investigation into child abuse," Rollins said.

The diocese also should immediately place an alleged abuser on administrative leave while law enforcement and child protection workers investigate a complaint, she said.

Rollins said she contacted the diocese earlier this year, offering to help develop a new policy.

"I must say that none of our recommendations were actually entered into this document," she said.

Brad Bauer, a Bedford resident and investigator with the Merrimack County Attorney's Office, said the diocese must make reporting suspected child abuse to civil authorities a priority.

"I've been involved in some investigations involving victims of priests. It's interesting to me that I never once received a report from church authorities, even when they (victims) said they made reports," Bauer said.

Bauer also called on the diocese to turn over all records of abuse complaints to civil authorities "so we can help substantiate the cases."

While the "listening session" was intended to get public comment on policy changes, several who spoke openly doubted whether the group could effect real change because members were appointed by the bishop and their recommendations must meet his final approval.

They also criticized the 12-member task force for not having an abuse victim represented on it.

"I, like many others, are very skeptical of your authority in this matter. I don't have any faith in Bishop McCormack," said Lorraine Lamontagne, a former Manchester school board member.

"I would like see Bishop McCormack leave and take his cronies with him," Lamontagne said in front of the 40 to 50 people who attended the session at St. Pius X Parish Center. She said the bishop should sell his North River Road residence and move to a rectory.

"I think it's about time these guys who are in these palaces join the real world," she said.

David Meltzer of Pelham, who converted to Catholicism when he was 18, said he was dismayed to hear of several religious sisters and priests dismissing abuse victims as simply trying to make money.

Meltzer said he was molested as a child for five years by the elevator operator in his New York City apartment building.

"My father was an alcoholic. He (the abuser) threatened that if I ever spoke of it, he would take my father's head and bang it up against a wall and take him to the top of the stairs and let him roll down. He had me totally in his control," he said.

Meltzer said he buried these memories until about eight years ago, when two of his former students told him they had been molested.

Then memories of his own abuse burst forth.

"I wish people knew and believed that it could really be true, that you could not remember, then remember years later," he said.

Meltzer said there shouldn't be a statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse.



Bishop expects new policy will help

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 14, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=67798&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=21

Bishop John McCormack has expressed confidence that a revised sexual abuse policy for the American-based Catholic Church will protect children while guaranteeing due process to accused priests.

“Dallas was a first step; this was a second step,” McCormack said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is holding its semiannual meeting.

The USCCB met last summer in Dallas, where it produced a charter that allowed bishops to remove from the ministry any priest who faces a credible charge of abuse. The Vatican blanched at some aspects of the policy – specifically that it did not follow universal church mandates that protect the rights of clergy.

A joint Vatican-USCCB committee then recommended revisions that the bishops think will allow the policy to maintain the mandate of Dallas while balancing concerns from Rome. The bishops adopted those revisions Wednesday, and now expect the Vatican to approve the finalized policy, making the document binding.

“It retains the heart of the (Dallas) charter and (Vatican) norms. It remains intact to assure the protection of children and assistance to children,” McCormack said.

As the bishops gathered in Washington this week, critics denounced the revisions. They felt the revisions, once approved, would weaken the Dallas policy and put them back at square one.

McCormack said the revised policy still lets bishops remove guilty priests from public ministry, while ensuring that clergy can protect its rights through “a fair and unbiased process.”

“The bishop has to be fair and just,” McCormack said. “If he wants to impose a penalty on a priest, or if the priest wants to defend his innocence, the bishop should offer a fair process. In our civil law, we do the same thing. The church has the same thing.”

That process entitles a priest to a clerical tribunal at the Vatican. Critics labeled the tribunal as a secretive process that will keep priests in the ministry and place a greater burden on victims.

McCormack maintained that even if a tribunal exonerates a priest, a bishop and his policy review board could still remove the cleric from ministry if there’s creditable evidence he has committed an act of abuse.

“The bishop is free not to assign that man” to any ministry, McCormack said. “The bishop is ultimately responsible.”

Further, a bishop can ask Rome to waive on an individual basis the church’s statute of limitations on the reporting of abuse, he said. Victims must file a complaint by the time they reach age 28, but an American bishop can extend that with the waiver.

The bishops will still report all abuse cases to civil authorities, even though the policy requires only following local civil laws, McCormack said. What the charter allows – in a departure from past church norms – is the reporting of abuse to authorities when the alleged victim has reached adulthood, he said.

“Now you can bring a priest to trial, or a priest can seek a trial, whereas before it just depended on the administrative act of the bishop, which was not complete,” he said.

The bishops did not rush a policy in Dallas – they had concern for the rights of priests then – but they did not know what specific steps to take, McCormack said. The joint committee applied church norms to the policy and essentially clarified the bishops’ wishes to protect priests, he said.

McCormack said he realizes that Catholics and others in New Hampshire are skeptical of a task force he appointed to review the Diocese of Manchester’s abuse policy and its adherence to the USCCB charter and the law.

The 12 members of the task force – comprising lay people and a priest and nun – have “personal integrity” and they will make the necessary recommendations, regardless of who appointed them, McCormack said.

“Then it’s up to me,” McCormack said. “It’s a pretty public task, and that’s why we’re doing it, to help those concerned and skeptical. We’re trying to do what’s best for the victims, children and priests.”

The policy will succeed, but as the church works to protect children and make sure future candidates for the priesthood are screened more carefully, there “needs to be much more healing,” he said.

“We’re remembering people want to come to the church and feel it’s a safe environment. Victims want to be healed, and our priests who work so hard want to have that trust restored so they can be relied upon. There were only a few among us who broke that trust.”



McCormack backs revised church policy

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 14, 2002

The revised child sexual abuse policy approved yesterday by the nation's Catholic bishops would enable them to permanently resolve cases of predatory clerics through church trials, Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack said.
The policy also would require diocesan bishops to ask the Vatican to lift the canonical statute of limitations in each case of clergy sexual abuse, he added.

Canon law says alleged victims must report abuse by age 28.

McCormack, who voted with the majority of the nation's bishops when they adopted the revised charter 246-7, said the document provided a clearer and fairer way of dealing with abusive clerics than that adopted by bishops in Dallas in June.

"It strengthened it. It clarified it. It specified the procedures to be used," the bishop said by telephone from Washington.

The revised policy and norms must get final Vatican approval before they would become mandatory in all Catholic dioceses in the U.S.

McCormack said he expects a Vatican response by year's end.

"The substance of what we passed in Dallas remains intact. We have kept our focus on protecting children, responding to victims and involving lay review boards. I join my fellow bishops in strongly endorsing our actions today," McCormack said.

The current Manchester diocesan sexual misconduct policy relies on an administrative decision by the bishop to remove from active ministry any cleric facing a single credible allegation of child sexual abuse, no matter when it occurred.

Under the revised norms approved yesterday, bishops would report an abuse allegation to the Holy See and seek an exemption from the canonical statute of limitations, McCormack said.

"My sense is that Rome has agreed to lift it in each case that we ask for it," McCormack said.

A church trial then would be held, either at the Vatican or before a local tribunal, he added.

A trial would address penalties for offending priests and result in a final resolution to a cleric's canonical status while protecting his due process rights, McCormack said.

"What it provides for is an unbiased procedure and a lifting of the statute of limitations," McCormack explained.
Even if a church trial finds an accused priest innocent, the local bishop still would have administrative authority to remove him from ministry if he believes the allegation to be credible, diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said.
Other than the addition of church trials, McCormack said the proposed policy and norms largely conform to the Manchester diocese's existing sexual misconduct policy.

A diocesan task force reviewing the current diocesan sexual misconduct policy is waiting for Vatican approval of the new norms before it can make its final recommendations to the bishop for changes to the local policy.

These recommendations can strengthen the existing policy, but cannot be in conflict with the canon law or the new norms.

The revised norms also would require each diocese to comply with "all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors."

McCormack said the Manchester diocese has "always reported sexual misconduct with a minor" and has cooperated with civil authorities whenever a case was reported.



Grand jury eyes role of NH diocese in sex abuse

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 17, 2002

Concord -- An investigative grand jury is hearing evidence about whether the state's Roman Catholic hierarchy covered up sexual abuse by priests, a sign of the seriousness and scope of the state's investigation.

James Higgins, a lawyer for the diocese, confirmed the existence of the grand jury in a motion filed last month in Manchester.

"The grand jury is currently meeting in Hillsborough County and has interviewed certain individuals in connection with the attorney general's probe," Higgins said.

Attorney General Philip McLaughlin would not comment, noting that grand jury proceedings are secret.

The grand jury could issue an indictment, or formal charge, or could do nothing. The investigation is expected to end next month.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester and delegate for sexual misconduct, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Since February, McLaughlin's office has been investigating whether diocesan officials violated child endangerment laws by transferring from parish to parish priests suspected of molesting children.

Higgins' Oct. 1 motion was in a civil lawsuit with no direct bearing on the state's investigation. In an affidavit in the same case, David Vicinanzo, another lawyer for the diocese, said the grand jury was "examining the activity of the diocese and its administrators over the period of the last 40 years."

Grand juries are panels of citizens who hear evidence in secret from prosecutors and witnesses, usually to issue indictments.

There is no formal difference between an investigative grand jury and a traditional grand jury. Both have the power to subpoena witnesses and records and issue indictments, a process that can take as little as one or two days.

However, in an investigative grand jury, prosecutors may call witnesses beyond those needed for an indictment.
Witnesses called before the investigative panel would be required to testify or face contempt charges. The only exception would be if a privilege applied, such as the right against self-incrimination.

McLaughlin has said the investigation stretches back to the 1960s and involves nearly 50 priests. He has been quoted as saying he was "absolutely convinced" church leaders had broken the law by knowingly reassigning abusive priests.

Last month, however, McLaughlin told The Union Leader that he was not speaking about New Hampshire church officials when he made those comments in June to The New Hampshire Sunday News. He said he was making a generic response "with respect to what I thought was a matter of public safety given the U.S. bishops' failure to address their responsibility to protect children from abusive priests in the sexual abuse charter they adopted in Dallas in June.

Authorities have said they are investigating the church in New Hampshire as an institution, but have not ruled out charging individuals.

One focus is whether any offenses occurred too long ago to prosecute under the endangerment law, and if not, if there is enough evidence to bring charges. The law has a one-year statute of limitations.

Former prosecutor John Kissinger said the use of the grand jury indicates authorities are preparing to move forward, possibly but not necessarily with charges.

"It obviously suggests that the matter is being taken with a high degree of seriousness by the Attorney General's Office and suggests that they are trying to advance the investigation," Kissinger said.

On the other hand, he said, it's not uncommon for investigative grand juries to conclude there is not enough evidence to bring charges.

Kissinger said investigative grand juries also are good ways for prosecutors to give a case a test run, as well as to commit witnesses to testimony.

Violations of the endangerment law are misdemeanors punishable by a year in jail for individuals and fines of up to $20,000 for organizations. Both can be prosecuted for willfully violating their duty to care for, protect and support children.

Bishop John B. McCormack has headed the diocese since 1998. Before then, he was a top aide to Cardinal Bernard Law dealing with sexual misconduct by priests in Massachusetts.

McCormack has been criticized here and in Boston for minimizing or dismissing sexual misconduct allegations against priests.



Skeptics have doubt about church task force

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 18, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=68051&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=21

Concord, N.H. -- Critics of a task force set up to examine Roman Catholic Church policies regarding priests accused of sexually abusing children wonder if the group will be effective.

At the same time, the task force says it is determined to strengthen the rules aimed at preventing such abuse.

Jeff Blanchard of Concord says there is a sense of openness when the task force has met with residents at several recent “listening sessions.” But he wonders whether the Diocese of Manchester will heed the advice the group gives it.

“In the laity, there tends to be a skepticism, a trust that is broken,” Blanchard said.

Others say the church needs to change its culture as well as its policies.

“I think we need to educate, educate, educate,” said Sister Maureen Sullivan, a theologian at Saint Anselm College.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault of the Diocese of Manchester said the church is committed to responding to the public’s concerns in a way that is open and clear.

Manchester Bishop John McCormack last month convened the task force, chaired by former House Speaker Donna Sytek, to evaluate the diocese’s sexual misconduct policy.

The group has since held “listening sessions” with residents throughout the state.

Some residents who have attended the meetings have called for McCormack’s resignation in light of revelations that some priests accused of abuse years ago were shuttled from parish to parish. Others have asked that the church be more open.

Sytek said she has made sure to pass along all of the comments to McCormack’s office.

“It would be unsatisfactory to me to go out and hear all this other stuff and not do anything with it,” she said. “People are hurting.”

Church trying to openly address sexuality

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 18, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=68052&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=21

Manchester -- Bishop John McCormack says men who are gay should not necessarily be precluded from becoming priests.

He told The New Hampshire Sunday news in a story published Sunday that what is most important is that a priest commit himself to a life of celibacy and follow church doctrine.

At the same time, he conceded there are obstacles for gay men who want to join the priesthood. McCormack said he doesn’t think the Roman Catholic Church has ever accepted a man who it knew was living an openly gay lifestyle.

McCormack said the church is looking for priests who are mature and of high integrity.

The comments come as the church reevaluates its policies for handling sexual abuse allegations against priests.

“In terms of orientation or same-sex attraction, I think it would really depend on how the person has controlled this or lived this in their life,” McCormack said.

McCormack said he doesn’t believe the sexual orientation of priests accused of abuse is necessarily to blame for their alleged actions. He said the issue is more complicated.

“I think pedophilia is one issue,” McCormack said. “I think men who abused post-pubescent boys is another issue. And I think living one’s life with integrity, be you heterosexual or homosexual, is another issue.”

While some observers have said that the Roman Catholic Church has not done a good job of openly addressing issues of sexuality, McCormack said clergy are making great strides in that area.

“In the seminary, at one time it was assumed everybody was heterosexual,” he said. “And now they say, ‘Wait a second, we really have to address the man who has concerns about same-sex attraction.’ So I think that’s dealt with much more forthrightly today in the seminary.”



Victim of sex abuse by Rev. Talbot talks of guilt, fear, pain

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 18, 2002

Former Keene resident Dennis Horion told no one about the sordid car trips he said the Rev. Francis A. Talbot took him on as a child.

Horion said Talbot routinely picked him up at his grandmother's Manchester house in his sleek sedan to get ice cream, go bowling or visit relatives. Horion said all were innocent pursuits -- and all tainted when Talbot reached across the front seat and put his hand inside Horion's pants.

"I felt the same way every time he did it. 'What do you want down there?' My parents don't even do that," Horion, 50, recounted.

"I knew nothing of sex. When I saw my picture, I was shocked at how fresh faced I was at that age. I had no chance against this guy," added Horion, who said Talbot abused him from approximately 1959 to 1964 when he was about 7 to 12 years old.

Talbot, now 66, is Horion's second cousin, the family priest whose first name Horion took for confirmation.
But he was even more than that, Horion explained, describing the exalted status a cleric held in the strict French Catholic world in which he was raised.

"God was a priest. And a priest was God," explained Horion, whose family lived in Hooksett before moving to Keene. Horion has been living in Atlanta, Ga., for the past 17 years.

"If a priest was untoward toward you, you would have to defend yourself against God as a 7-year-old," he added.
Horion told no one about the alleged abuses until he was 19, when he said he confided in his older sister.

"If I told my dad, he would have shot Francis Talbot. That is the entire reason I kept quiet -- I didn't want to lose a father and a mentor," said Horion, who is self-employed as a custom designer of men's clothes.

Horion said the alleged abuse escalated to attempted anal rape during a sleepover at Talbot's mother's house in Manchester when he was about 11 years old.

Horion said Talbot came into his bedroom during the night and sat down beside him. He said he smelled alcohol on Talbot's breath.

"I'm cold. . .Can I come in and get warm with you?" Horion recounted Talbot asking.

"What do you say to a priest?" Horion asked. "I didn't have any concept of what he was doing. He rolled me over. . .laid down on top of me and tried to rape me."

Horion said his cries and screams frightened Talbot, who left the room angry.

Horion said he was in about eighth grade when Talbot took him fishing at Lake Massabesic and allegedly molested him for the last time. Talbot was more aggressive than ever before, "essentially attacking me," Horion said, adding he fought the priest off.

"I told him I want to go home. I think he figured out he had popped the edge of the envelope. He knew he was right on the verge of me telling my father," Horion said.

Horion said he didn't see his second cousin again until his junior year at St. Anselm College in the early 1970s. Horion took a part-time job at the state's youth detention facility in Manchester, known then as the New Hampshire Industrial School, when he ran into Talbot, who worked there as a part-time chaplain from 1968 to 1988.

Horion, who said by then he had become a "wild buck" who had difficulty fitting in with his family and meeting their expectations, locked eyes with Talbot in an angry stare.

"When he saw me, he ran like a rabbit," Horion said.

Horion said his sin was not speaking up then.

"That would have been the brave thing. What I'm doing now is attempting to reconcile my culpability," Horion said of his decision to break with the anonymity offered him as one of 65 men and women who joined a potential class action suit filed against the Manchester diocese.

Had he had the courage and strength of character to do something at that time, Horion believes he could have prevented Talbot from allegedly abusing a Manchester youth from about 1989 to 1996.

Cody Goodwin, 22, claims in a civil suit that Talbot sexually assaulted him from the age of 9 until he turned 16 and was strong enough to fight the cleric off.

Goodwin alleges Talbot abused him virtually every Monday when Goodwin worked at the priest's home in Manchester.

"I just don't want to talk to anybody right now," Talbot said recently when reached at his Manchester home by telephone.

"I am so broken hearted about all of this," he added.

Talbot, who was ordained in the early 1960s, was on the list of 14 priests accused of past sexual misconduct with children released by Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack last February. His ministry was suspended in 2000 when the diocese received a child sexual abuse allegation against him, church officials have said.

The priest has been accused in two civil suits filed this year of abusing an unidentified Concord man and Robert Plourde of Manchester. Both men claim Talbot molested them at the former New Hampshire Industrial School in the 1960s.

Another of Talbot's alleged victims was part of a nearly $1 million settlement the Manchester diocese reached with 16 people last month. McCormack mailed letters of apology to the alleged victims involved in that settlement.

Talbot also served as Catholic chaplain at the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord. The prison's 1976-78 biennial report said he was chaplain there for the previous 10 years.

He was stationed at St. Patrick Parish in Manchester, one parishioner said. A 1990 Union Leader report on Manchester Bishop Odore J. Gendron's retirement mentions Talbot as a long-time friend of Gendron's who recently appointed Talbot to serve at Catholic Medical Center.

Horion, now one of 65 men and women whose cases are the subject of ongoing settlement talks with Manchester diocesan attorneys, said no dollar amount will recover what he has lost.

And no price tag can be placed on what he wants.

"I would like to see the church come back to what it was when I was a youth -- a leader in the community and. . . able to take the moral high ground and be looked at with trust and not derision," he explained.
"McCormack will never be able to lead anybody on the moral high ground. Until the church can find the moral high ground again, they're incapable of providing leadership," he added.

As attorneys talk settlements, Horion fears the voices of the abused -- and their power to effect real change -- may be lost in the clamor over money.

"The settlements are not addressing the real issues at the table," he explained.

"The fear that I have in this is that the victims right now are being asked to settle in a vacuum without actually taking a look at the power we have," Horion added.

"We have not collectively asked the church (for reform) because our attorneys, this is not their agenda," he said.
Manchester attorney Peter E. Hutchins, who represents Horion and the more than 60 other unidentified alleged victims in settlement talks that began Oct. 22, said he is not seeking reforms as conditions in the negotiations. But he said his clients' decisions to come forward is a powerful impetus for change in itself.

"They believe by coming forward in the manner in which they have, in bringing this issue to light, they are helping as part of the process to quite naturally effect some reforms," Hutchins said.

"But, beyond that, it's not really my function. My job is to represent my clients and to help them as best as I can, part of that being a financial compensation, but certainly a heck of a lot more has been helping them through the last six to eight months," Hutchins added.

Horion wants abusive priests removed from the priesthood, not just from ministry.

He wants McCormack to resign as bishop and the diocese forced to pay damages alleged victims incurred by abusive priests while he said church leaders looked the other way for decades.

He also wants the Manchester diocese to provide full disclosure of its finances, including the amount it has spent on attorneys to fight alleged victims' claims. He would like the diocese to set aside the same amount it spent on legal fees in a fund to pay for mental and physical assistance to alleged victims.

It particularly pains Horion that many parishioners still regard alleged victims as either greedy or emotionally weak and unable to get over something that happened decades ago.

"I ask the parishioners to not see us as the enemy, taking money from the parishes. . .but welcome us as the prodigal son," Horion said.

He speaks of a "conspiracy of silence" that enabled priests to abuse children. This conspiracy extended from the highest reaches of the diocese to those parents and parishioners in the pews who said nothing, yet refused to let their children alone with suspect priests, he says.

"They wouldn't have done anything so they wouldn't have to accept responsibility for putting you in the position of having been abused," he said.



Critics wonder if diocese listens to task force advice

By Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 18, 2002

Concord -- Critics of a task force set up to examine Roman Catholic Church policies regarding priests accused of sexually abusing children wonder if the group will be effective.

At the same time, the task force says it is determined to strengthen the rules aimed at preventing such abuse.
Jeff Blanchard of Concord says there is a sense of openness when the task force has met with residents at several recent "listening sessions." But he wonders whether the Diocese of Manchester will heed the advice the group gives it.

"In the laity, there tends to be a skepticism, a trust that is broken," Blanchard said.

Others say the church needs to change its culture as well as its policies.

"I think we need to educate, educate, educate," said Sister Maureen Sullivan, a theologian at St. Anselm College.
The Rev. Edward Arsenault of the Diocese of Manchester said the church is committed to responding to the public's concerns in a way that is open and clear.

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack last month convened the task force, chaired by former House Speaker Donna Sytek, to evaluate the diocese's sexual misconduct policy.

The group has since held "listening sessions" with residents throughout the state.

Some residents who have attended the meetings have called for McCormack's resignation in light of revelations that some priests accused of abuse years ago were shuttled from parish to parish. Others have asked that the church be more open.

Sytek said she has made sure to pass along all of the comments to McCormack's office.

"It would be unsatisfactory to me to go out and hear all this other stuff and not do anything with it," she said. "People are hurting."



Law: Officials should have checked Shanley more

From Staff and wire reports
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 20, 2002

Boston -- Cardinal Bernard Law, testifying about his handling of sexual abuse allegations against retired priest Paul Shanley, acknowledged that church officials should have done more to investigate Shanley after receiving complaints about him in 1985 and 1988.

Law's testimony came during a deposition he gave in civil lawsuits filed against the Archdiocese of Boston in the Shanley case. Transcripts of the final four days of Law's deposition were made public yesterday; the first two days were released in August.

Manchester, N.H., Bishop John B. McCormack is also one of the defendants named in legal action against the archdiocese. He is scheduled to undergo his fifth day of deposition Friday.

McCormack handled sexual abuse complaints for the archdiocese from 1985 to 1995 and worked directly with Shanley. He succeeded the Rev. Thomas V. Daily, also now a bishop, whose deposition on Shanley was released last month. Transcripts of McCormack's testimony will be released after the deposition is completed, perhaps in December.

In earlier statements, Law blamed poor record-keeping for the archdiocese's failure to remove Shanley from ministry after allegations were made against him beginning in 1966.

Law said if he had been aware of the allegations after he came to Boston in March 1984, he would not have promoted Shanley later that year to pastor of St. Jean's Parish in Newton, where he allegedly went on to sexually abuse more boys.

In his deposition testimony released yesterday, Law said church officials should have done more investigation after receiving complaints that Shanley had made public comments in favor of man-boy love and had made sexual overtures toward a mentally ill man at McLean Hospital. Shanley served as chaplain at the hospital.
After Shanley denied the allegations, church officials took no action.

In the deposition, which was taken in August and October, Law was questioned by Roderick MacLeish Jr., a lawyer for six men who allege in lawsuits that Shanley sexually abused them at St. Jean's in the 1980s, after Law promoted him to pastor.

MacLeish asked, based on the two complaints against Shanley, "should another step have been taken, Cardinal Law?"

"It would have been much better had another step been taken, yes," Law replied.

Robert Banks served as an auxiliary bishop in Boston before being named bishop of Green Bay, Wis.

The deposition featured numerous testy exchanges between MacLeish and Law's attorney, J. Owen Todd, as MacLeish pressed Law to explain why Shanley and many other priests were reassigned to other parishes and not removed from ministry after the church received allegations of sexual abuse.

Law repeated an explanation he has given repeatedly since the clergy sexual abuse crisis erupted in January. He said he relied on his subordinates to review such complaints and on psychological assessments made by mental health professionals.

"The way in which these matters were handled was through delegation. My expectation was and is that allegations would be looked at, would be examined, and that credible allegations would be acted upon, and that would include getting some kind of a medical assessment, if it seemed that there was substance to the allegation," Law said.
Law said he did not review Shanley's personnel file to see if it contained complaints before he promoted Shanley to pastor at St. Jean's.

"My presumption was -- my presumption was that a person in a position of pastoral responsibility was appropriately there," Law said.

Donna Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Boston, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the deposition.

Rodney Ford, the father of Gregory Ford, one of the men who claims Shanley sexually assaulted him at St. Jean's, said he resented Law's comment that he relied on those who worked for him to investigate complaints against priests.
"Cardinal Law has to take responsibility for what happened. He's the leader of our church," Ford said.

In addition to the civil lawsuits, Shanley faces criminal charges. He has pleaded innocent to 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery for allegedly sexually abusing boys from 1979 to 1989 while he was at St. Jean's.



Church task force drafts revised sex abuse policy

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 23, 2002

The task force charged with recommending changes to the Catholic Diocese of Manchester's sexual misconduct policy will move beyond its mandate and draft a revised policy on its own, the group's chairman said yesterday.
"We hijacked the mandate," former House Speaker Donna P. Sytek and task force chairman said.

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack created the task force to review the diocese's existing policy against the one adopted by the nation's bishops this month and make recommendations to him for changes.

But Sytek said the 12-member group decided unilaterally to forge ahead and draft its own policy to present to the bishop.

"It reflects the independence and commitment of the task force," she explained. "They are so committed to getting this right that they don't trust it to anybody else."

Sytek said she expects a skeletal draft containing key elements and recommendations identified by the task force to be ready by Christmas.

She projected it wouldn't be until mid-March before the task force completes its revisions and presents a final document to McCormack.

Sytek said she and Diane Murphy Quinlan, an attorney and the diocese's delegate for policy administration, would write the drafts.

Meanwhile, McCormack was questioned under oath in Manchester yesterday by attorneys representing alleged abuse victims of Boston archdiocesan priest the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

The questioning was part of his continued deposition that began in June. The bishop is expected to continue to be deposed in connection with civil suits involving other Boston archdiocesan priests next month.
The task force, formed last month, has heard experts speak on canon law, clergy sexual abuse and the selection and training of seminarians.

On Thursday, it met privately with the Diocesan Review Board, which reviews clergy sexual abuse claims, along with a victim of clergy sexual abuse.

Straffod County Attorney Janice Rundles yesterday addressed the group to give law enforcement's perspective on prosecuting child sexual abuse cases.

Rundles said child sexual abuse cases are among the most difficult to prosecute, in part, because they pit one person's word against another's and often aren't reported until a victim is older when there isn't much physical evidence available.

The group discussed the issue of whether the state's child abuse and neglect reporting law requires law enforcement to be notified if the person doesn't come forward until he or she is 18 or older, or legally an adult.
Rundles said she interprets the law to say the abuse of someone as a child be reported to civil authorities no matter how old they are.

But Glenna Law, who is in charge of fielding suspected child abuse and neglect reports for the state Division for Children, Youth and Families, said her office would not investigate or forward to police a report of suspected child abuse if the person is 18 and older.

While Law said she would encourage complainants to contact police on their own, the law does not require her office to report it.

"They are adults at that point and they have the ability to protect themselves," she explained.



Priest resigns, admits to relationship with minor

By Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 25, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=68522&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=21

Auburn -- A Roman Catholic priest told parishioners he was in love with an underage girl with whom he had an inappropriate relationship more than 20 years ago.

The Rev. James Haller, 66, resigned Thursday as priest at the St. Peter Church. He has been barred from functioning as a priest.

A lawyer for the now-grown woman revealed the relationship to Manchester Diocese lawyers last weekend. She also has met with the state attorney general’s office.

In his resignation letter Thursday, Haller said he had planned to marry the girl.

“I was unable to make the decision to leave the priesthood, and the relationship ended,” he wrote.

The diocese has offered counseling services to the woman and to parishioners. The relationship occurred before Haller became priest at St. Peter 17 years ago.

In his letter Haller asked parishioners for prayers and forgiveness. Besides resigning from the priesthood, he resigned from his administrative position at the Manchester East Deanery.

Neither the attorney general or diocese spokesmen would reveal the girl’s age at the time of the relationship, except to confirm that she was younger than 18.

It is the “first and only” report of such misconduct by Haller, a diocese statement said.

In a statement Saturday, Bishop John McCormack said he was deeply saddened by the situation.

“While it is difficult to bear this news about someone who in many other ways has served the church so faithfully, we need to remain faithful to our commitment that even one instance of abuse of a minor is unacceptable in priestly ministry,” McCormack said.

Early last week Haller met with Rev. Edward Arsenault, the diocese’s delegate on sexual misconduct cases. Arsenault said he decided the woman’s story was credible and recommended to a diocese review board and McCormack that Haller be banned from functioning as a priest.

McCormack accepted the recommendation. “This case is closed,” Arsenault told The Union Leader.

Parishioners had mixed views of the news, although few said they were surprised after many recent revelations about sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church.

“The saddest part of it is that it’s not shocking,” said a mother picking up her child at the church Saturday. The woman, who refused to give her name, said the rules need to be changed.

“For God’s sake, let them get married,” she said. “Let them have a normal life.”



Bishop calls Rev. Haller situation a tragedy

By Benjamin Kepple
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
Nobember 25, 2002

Auburn -- Bishop John B. McCormack told parishioners at St. Peter Catholic Church yesterday to look to God for guidance as the parish dealt with revelations surrounding their pastor's removal from the ministry.

On Nov. 21, the Rev. James Haller, 66, resigned as pastor in a letter to parishioners after allegations surfaced about a relationship he had with a woman more than 20 years ago. Church officials said the woman was a minor at the time.

Yesterday, as McCormack spoke, he did so without a bishop's shepherd's staff or mitre. He said it was somewhat inexplicable that a person could do such good in the ministry while having done such wrong many years ago. And, in his homily, he also reminded worshippers that Christ was with them.

"We walk by faith in him, not by sight, humanly speaking," McCormack said. "It's not easy, but Christ is with us. And Christ will guide us if we are open to his way of loving one another."

"We should never feel alone," McCormack said later in his homily. "But with Him, we shall overcome this, and arise to new and better life."

Earlier in the service, McCormack spoke more directly to Haller's situation. He said that Haller had admitted what he had done and was sorry for it, and pledged that the church would do all it could to help the young woman.
"The whole situation is tragic -- tragic for the woman, tragic for Father Haller, and tragic for all of us," McCormack said.

McCormack spoke of the situation as a "grave matter." But while he said the gravity of what was done could not be minimized, Haller's good work should also not be forgotten.

McCormack also said that staff workers from Catholic Charities would hold meetings over the next month at the church to help parishioners deal with what happened. He also noted that the Rev. Bernie Campbell had been appointed as an interim pastor for the parish.

Campbell, diocesan officials said, would take care of both the administrative and spiritual needs of the parish until a permanent replacement is named.

McCormack spoke at yesterday's 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Masses, while Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian spoke at the 8 a.m. Mass.

It's not the first time McCormack has held Mass at a parish after reported allegations or revelations of priestly misconduct.

In March, he spoke at St. Joseph Church in Epping after its priest, the Rev. Ronald Corriveau, was accused of sexual misconduct in the early 1980s.

And in October, McCormack spoke at St. Patrick Church in Jaffrey after the Rev. Roland Cote was accused of sexual misconduct involving a teenage boy.

Meanwhile, diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said that the diocese was providing some assistance to the woman, who contacted the diocese through her attorney. But he would not offer any details about what that assistance entailed, saying the woman wanted to stay anonymous.

"That was her request and we're trying to honor that as best we can," McGee said.

McGee also declined to say where Haller had served as a priest prior to his arrival at St. Peter 17 years ago, although he said Haller had served as a priest in New Hampshire since he was ordained.

McGee also would not say how old the woman was when the alleged relationship took place, or what it involved, except to say that she was a minor. Under church policy, that's under 18 years old.

"It was a relationship with a minor that we felt violated the sexual misconduct policy of the diocese," McGee said.
Many parishioners leaving St. Peter's 10 a.m. Mass yesterday didn't want to discuss the matter. Those who did, though, were largely supportive of Haller. They remembered him for the good work he did while pastor of St. Peter Church.

"He was a very good priest and I just feel very badly and saddened. And I forgive him," said Kathy Toomey, of Auburn.

Another female parishioner, who spoke on condition that her name would not be used, said she was disappointed that Haller had not had the chance to say good-bye to the congregation.

"I have been tormented since (I found out). Father Haller is a great guy," she said. "The only mistake I can see is that he fell in love with a minor."

The woman also took issue with comments made about Haller in Sunday's edition of The New Hampshire Sunday News, in which another parishioner referred to Haller in disparaging terms.



Church bullying alleged victims, lawyer says

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 26, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=68598&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=1

Concord, N.H. -- Roman Catholic Church officials are trying to intimidate 36 alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests by declining to help keep their names confidential, their lawyer said Monday.

Mark Abramson said he has offered to give the names to the Diocese of Manchester if it agrees to keep them confidential, but has gotten no response from the diocese’s lawyers.

“They haven’t even given us the courtesy of a reply,” Abramson said. “Their efforts are very transparent. They are hoping to try to embarrass or humiliate the victims into not going forward with their claims.”

Spokesman Pat McGee denied that the diocese is trying to intimidate the 36. He said the door is “always open” to a mediated or negotiated settlement keeping the names confidential, provided it’s done out of court.

The 36 sued the diocese anonymously along with 21 of Ambramson’s clients who are identified by name in court papers.

Abramson stressed that he is not asking the court to keep the names secret, but for the church to agree not to disseminate the names. Adult victims of sexual assaults usually are identified in court papers, but news organizations do not use the names without the victims’ permission.

Abramson said the church’s stance belies its claim that the welfare of the victims is paramount.

“It’s just another example of how phony their claim is that all they’re concerned about are the victims,” Abramson said.

“I don’t believe for a second think they are really interested in helping these victims out,” he said. “They’re interested in putting the scandal behind them any way they can.”

Bishop John B. McCormack repeatedly has said the church must respect the confidentiality of victims. In a June deposition in an unrelated lawsuit, McCormack said victims needed to know they can report allegations to the church in confidence, without it becoming public and rising “to the level of a scandal.”

The diocese asked for the names after settlement talks broke down over money. In an Oct. 3 letter to James Higgins, lawyer for the diocese, Abramson said he would provide the names as long as the diocese agreed not to make them public. Higgins has not responded to Abramson and referred calls for comment to McGee.



Settlement reached in abuse claims

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 27, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?ArticleID=68642&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=1

The Diocese of Manchester will pay 62 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse more than $5 million, the second private settlement reached by the church in just over a month.

The settlement – announced Tuesday at the diocese’s Manchester chancery – ends the alleged victims’ legal claims against 28 priests, 11 of whom once served parishes in the Nashua area, and a brother who had taught at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua.

Peter Hutchins, a Manchester attorney who represents the 62 people, would not detail individual settlement amounts from the $5,074,000 package.

But all 62, who claim they suffered abuse as minors, will have enough money for counseling, a significant purchase and donations to charitable organizations that help children, the attorney said. One person will support Catholic Charities, he said.

“We achieved what we hoped to achieve from the beginning: the New Hampshire solution,” Hutchins said. “I’m very pleased that we were able to accomplish a settlement of this magnitude without the need to resort to litigation, with all of the potential harm to victims.”

That New Hampshire solution contrasts with negotiations seen with other Catholic dioceses, Hutchins said. He and his clients did not encounter resistance from the Diocese of Manchester in their six months of negotiations, either through lengthy legal procedures or a refusal to accept victims’ claims, the attorney said.

Some victims made claims in the past month, and because of the timing of negotiations, gained closure in just a matter of days, Hutchins said. He has four more open claims that he hopes to settle in the same fashion.

Striking the same tone as attorney Chuck Douglas – who reached a $950,000 settlement with the diocese last month for 16 men – Hutchins applauded Bishop John McCormack and diocesan officials for striving to end negotiations so the alleged victims could start the healing process outside the glare of the media.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, the diocesan delegate to the bishop for sexual misconduct, called the settlement only the beginning of a difficult process for the alleged victims, who upon their request will have their names and claims of abuse kept confidential.

“Today is a significant day in the lives of many people who reported being abused, and in the life of our church, as we help these people move forward to greater healing of painful events and memories,” Arsenault said.

Another attorney, however, has broken off talks with the diocese, blaming church officials for a lack of cooperation. That lawyer, Mark Abramson, is instead preparing for a trial on behalf of about 60 alleged victims.

To meet the $5 million payment, the diocese’s insurer will provide $2 million, while $900,000 will come from a diocesan insurance fund reserved for unanticipated expenses, with the remaining $2,174,000 coming from a savings account.

As with last month’s agreement, Arsenault stressed that no parish, school or institutional funds were used in the settlement.

The $2,174,000 represents a considerable sum from the savings account, Arsenault said, although he would not detail the exact percentage.

All 62 people experienced physical contact by clergy, from grabbing over clothing to sodomy, Hutchins said. The abuse occurred at churches and the Catholic camps Fatima and Bernadette, and most of the incidents occurred before 1979, he said.

None of the 28 priests still has permission to function in ministry, Arsenault said. The claims also involved two laypersons, who also no longer have any function with the diocese, Arsenault said.

Eleven of the priests at one time served parishes in the Nashua area, while Brother Guy Beaulieu taught at Bishop Guertin until 1991. Beaulieu belonged to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the Rhode Island-based religious order that owns the high school, and also worked at Camp Fatima.

The priests include:

-- Albion Bulger, who served St. Kathryn Church in Hudson from 1969 to 1975, and Parish of the Resurrection in Nashua from 1991 to 2001.

-- Karl Dowd, who served St. Christopher Church in Nashua from 1986 to 2000, and St. Stanislaus Church in Nashua from 1999 to 2000. He was also director of Camp Fatima and Camp Bernadette. He died in February.

-- Paul Aube, who served St. Louis de Gonzague Church in Nashua in 1975.

-- Albert Boulanger, who served St. Joseph Church in Nashua from 1970 to 1971.

-- Gerard Chalifour, who served Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Greenville from 1960 to 1961 and St. Kathryn Church in 1968.

-- Ronald Corriveau, who served St. Joseph Church in 1977, St. Christopher Church in 1984, and St. Louis de Gonzague in 1985.

-- Robert Densmore, who served St. Christopher Church in 1986.

-- Alfred Janetta, who served Our Lady of Mercy Church in Merrimack in the 1970s.

-- Francis Lamothe, who served Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in the 1960s. He died in 1995.

-- Joseph Maguire, who lived at the rectory of St. John the Evangelist Church in Hudson in 1973.

-- Stephen Scruton, who served St. Kathryn from 1972 to 1973 and St. John the Evangelist from 1980 to 1983.



NH diocese will pay $5 million to 62 victims

By Mark Hayward
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
November 27, 2002

The Catholic Diocese of Manchester will pay more than $5 million to 62 people who claimed they were abused by priests and other church workers as minors, church officials announced yesterday.

The incidents took place as long ago as the 1950s and as recently as the 1980s and involved 28 priests, two lay workers and one member of a religious order, the diocese said in a release.

The diocese disclosed the names of all the priests and lay workers except three, which the reported victims wanted to be kept confidential, diocesan officials said.

"None of these men will exercise any pastoral ministries in the church ever again," said the Rev. Edward J. Arsenault, delegate of the Bishop for Sexual Misconduct, in a news conference.

Manchester attorney Peter Hutchins, who represented the 62 people, said no one will receive more than $500,000 and the median settlement was $41,250.

A former House speaker who sits on a diocesan task force reviewing the policy praised the settlement.

"It shows good faith on the part of the diocese that victims of abuse will be treated and that their needs will be met," said Donna Sytek, chairman of the Diocesan Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policy.

"Compare that with what is going on in Boston," she said in a telephone interview.

But an activist Catholic who has called for the resignation of Bishop John B. McCormack said the settlement allows the church hierarchy to keep secrets internal.

Questions regarding the number of incidents per perpetrator, internal investigations, coverups and transfers remain undisclosed, said Somersworth resident James Farrell.

"These are the kind of things we may never find out now as a result of the settlement," Farrell said.

The diocese did not make any requests for confidentiality in the settlement, officials stressed.

But at the request of Hutchins' clients, the diocese will not disclose their names, the details of the abuse or the amounts of individual settlements.

The diocese said that the identities of the accusers has been offered to the priests and lay workers who are alive.
The $5,074,000 settlement breaks down three ways:

* $2,174,000 comes from unrestricted savings of the diocese. The savings accumulated from investment returns and unrestricted gifts to the bishop.

* $2 million comes from insurance carriers.

* $900,000 was drawn from the diocesan insurance fund.

Officials stressed that no funds of parishes, schools or institutions such as New Hampshire Catholic Charities were spent on the settlement. Parishes and parish-run schools contribute less than 1 percent of their annual income to the diocesan insurance fund.

Arsenault said he hopes the settlement will help the church restore the confidence and trust in church leadership.

"While we are using the limited funds available to the diocese, we must remember that we are doing so in an effort to help people turn to the Lord and to be healed," Arsenault said.

Hutchins said he represents four others making claims against the diocese, which he expects will soon be settled. A fifth involves a religious order.

He said all the cases involved some form of physical contact, ranging from touching over clothes to multiple acts of sodomy.

He praised the Manchester Diocese for its cooperation and said it has taken a leadership role in dealing with sexual abuse complaints.

During settlement negotiations, diocesan officials did not press for details such as dates and allegations for every claim, he said.

"I've never seen anything like it," Hutchins said.

Hutchins would not disclose his fee and said he was offended to be asked such a question.

"I had a pretty good practice before this started. There are a heck of a lot easier ways to make a buck," he said, "than to sue your church."

Dan Wise, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Bar Association, said lawyers typically take personal injury cases on a one-third contingency basis.

Hutchins said the diocese has "absolutely acknowledged that the people were abused."

Arsenault referred to a three-paragraph statement when asked if the diocese admits to the allegations.

The statement uses phrases such as "reported incidents," "people who reported being abused," "complainants" and "persons accused of misconduct."

Church spokesman Patrick McGee said the settlement shows that the church recognizes people were harmed and is taking steps to repair their relationship with the church.

But he stressed that "the harm caused by these people was from individual actions."

"(McCormack) is sorry that these people have been harmed, there's no question about it," McGee said.

Hutchins said about a third of his clients want to repair their relationship with the church, a third want nothing to do with the church and the rest are in a gray area.

Many plan to give most, if not all, of their settlement money away, Hutchins said. Some are eyeing organizations that protect children against sexual abuse. One wants to contribute to Catholic Charities.

He said the settlements will allow his clients to take time off and relax in a vacation spot if they desire.

Hutchins is the second of three lawyers who have made claims against the church in the priest sex-abuse scandal to settle.

Last month, Concord lawyer Charles Douglas III engineered a $950,000 settlement for 16 men.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mark Abramson broke off talks with the church on behalf of about 60 alleged victims in September. Abramson, who is preparing for trial, blamed the breakdown on a lack of cooperation from the diocese.

The diocese disclosed the names of all the priests involved in the settlement, grouped by their status at the time allegations were received:

* Active ministry -- Aime Boisselle, Ronald Corriveau, Alfred Jannetta and a confidential subject.
* Retired ministry -- Gerard Chalifour and Robert Densmore.
* Extern priest who has left ministry -- Edmond Lemire and Leo Landry.
* Left ministry -- Paul Groleau, Alfred Lapoint, Daniel Osgood and a confidential subject.
* Dead -- Wilfred Bombadier, Richard Connors, Alfred Constant, Karl Dowd, Mark Gauthier, Gerald Joyal, Francis Lamothe, Harvey Lamothe, Maurice Leclerc.
* No permission to minister -- Paul Aube, Albert Boulanger, Albion Bulger, Joseph Maquire, Stephen Scruton, Leo Shea, Francis Talbot.
* Guy Beaulieu, a member of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart who had no permission to minister.
* Lay persons no longer employed -- Gerry Dane and a confidential subject.

 
 

Bishop Accountability © 2003
     
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