Fall River Resources – September 2002
By Seán P. O’Malley
Palm Beach Gardens, FL --- First of all, I want to thank our Heavenly Father for the grace of serving as a Bishop. I pray that the Lord will bless my ministry among you, and that He will help me to be a good pastor and father. I hope that He will make up for my deficiencies through the power of His presence and the strength of His love.
I am grateful to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, for the trust he has shown me in giving me the opportunity to serve you. I pledge to him my loyalty and affection.
My appointment as your Bishop comes at a very difficult moment in the history of our Church. The devastating effects of the sexual exploitation of minors by members of the clergy have affected us all, beginning with the victims and their loved ones who suffer the cruel aftermath of abuse. The whole Church feels the pain of this scandal and is anxious to try to bring some healing and reconciliation to our families and communities that have been so shaken by these sad events and by the mishandling of these situations on the part of the Church.
Reconciliation always demands a firm purpose of amendment. It means seeking new ways to avoid the grave mistakes of the past and to make the safety of children our paramount goal. As your Bishop, I commit myself to working with you to ensure the safety and well being of our young people in the Church. This is an arduous task, and I truly ask for your cooperation. Together we must seek ways to bring healing and comfort to victims of abuse and to guarantee that through vigilance and education our churches, schools, and Church agencies will be safe havens for children and young people. I believe that the laity has a great role to play in this process.
I come to you with 18 years of experience as a Bishop and, therefore, quite aware of my limitations. (I would have studied much harder in the seminary, had I known I was going to be a Bishop.)
I am anxious to get to know my new family, my priests, and deacons, religious, and laity. Having been the Bishop of the Virgin Islands, and Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, I have seen beaches before; but, the real scenery that interests me is that of the parishes, which I look forward to visiting after my installation.
I want to have the opportunity to hear, first hand, from our priests and parish councils what is happening and what needs to happen.
We are all aware of how challenging a time this has been for our priests. I am anxious to become a part of your priestly fraternity so that we might encourage each other in faithfully living out our vocation to serve Christ and His people with generosity and joy.
The Diocese enjoys great diversity, which reflects the Catholicity of our Church. We come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Together we make up the Body of Christ. I look forward to working with all of you to build up the unity that Christ so ardently desires among His followers. When we Catholics are united among ourselves we can witness to the solidarity and communion that Christ asks of us. It also puts us in a better position to unite with other Christians and people of good will in working for a more just society and a stronger community at large.
We are a people with a mission that can be accomplished only by working together. Nourished by the Eucharist, the Community of Faith is sent forth to announce the good news of salvation. Our God wants to be close to us. He calls us to conversion, to service, to holiness. Discipleship in the Church is the special way He calls us to live. It is difficult at times to follow. Our modern culture tends toward individualism and the privatization of religion. Our faith tells us that Christ came to found a Church, a people, and to call us to a way of life together in a community of faith. In that community, as in the Gospel, the protagonists must be the little ones: the children, the poor, the sick, and the oppressed, and the lost sheep.
We are the earthen vessels that carry treasures: Christ’s Gospel, His sacraments, and His love. We must never lose sight of our mission to teach His message and to share the Good News we have received. As the Holy Father reminded the youth gathered in Toronto a few weeks ago: Christ calls on us to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. We want to carry that same message to all the members of our Church, especially our young people.
I am happy to be your Bishop. I look forward to getting to know you and
work with you to build up the Body of Christ. I ask for your prayers so
that the Lord will strengthen me for the task. I count on the intercession
of Mary, the Mother of the Good Shepherd and Mother of the Church, to
guide and bless all of us in this moment of transition.
By Robert J. Barcellos
NEW BEDFORD -- The centennial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Rivet and Bonney Street, the second-oldest of three parishes in New Bedford formed to serve Portuguese-speaking residents, was celebrated this past Sunday at a Mass at which two bishops participated.
The Rev. John J. Oliveira, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, was joined in celebrating the Mass by the Most Rev. Robert E. Mulvee, bishop of the Providence Diocese, and the Most Rev. Dom Januario Ferreira of Lisbon, bishop for the Military Diocese in Portugal.
The Most Rev. Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., bishop of the Fall River Diocese, had originally been scheduled to the celebrant and homilist, but was unable to be present because of another engagement.
The Mass was followed by a dinner at White's restaurant in Westport, where the consul of Portugal in New Bedford, Fernando Teles Fazendeiro, presented the parish with a plaque of honor and merit from the Portuguese government on behalf of the Portuguese communities abroad. The pastor also presented Monsignor Oliveira with a medal of honor for his work with the Portuguese community.
New Bedford Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz Jr. was among those attending the centennial observance.
St. John the Baptist Church on County Street was formed in 1871 to meet the spiritual needs of the growing Portuguese-speaking population in New Bedford. By the turn of the century, the number of Portuguese immigrants had grown enough to warrant another church.
In 1902, the Rt. Rev. Matthew Harkins, bishop of the Providence Diocese (the Fall River Diocese would not be created until 1904) formed a new parish for Portuguese-speaking residents and named the Rev. Jose Duarte Nunes as pastor. The Rivet Street site was acquired and the parish dedicated in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her capacity as Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Bishop Harkins on July 4, 1903. A third Portuguese parish, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, serving North End residents, was formed in 1909.
Father Nunes' pastorate would last only until 1907. His successor would be the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Antonio Pacheco Vieira, a native of Sao Miguel, Azores, and one-time classmate at the Seminary of Angra in Terceira, who had arrived in New Bedford in 1903.
The then-Father Vieira began a memorable pastorate with his appointment on Dec. 13, 1907. His 57-year pastorate would span more than half of the history of his parish. Ordained in 1888, he was the oldest active priest in the United States at the time of his death at the age of 98 on March 27, 1964.
Under Monsignor Vieira, who was made a domestic prelate in 1936, the church building begun by Father Nunes was completed and blessed on Oct. 13, 1913, and the construction debt eliminated a decade later. Prior to completion, Masses were celebrated in the church basement. The red brick-faced edifice with its twin steeples of aged green copper have since become a familiar landmark in the South End.
Plans for a parish school were approved by the diocese in 1929, but the Depression years intervened and it was not until 1941 that the first Portuguese language school in New Bedford opened, built on a site east of the church at a cost of $200,000. The Sisters of St. Dorothy were entrusted to run the school.
The sisters' original convent, later turned into a recreation center, was replaced by a new convent in 1953. The sisters left about four or five years ago, and there is presently an all-lay teaching staff with Joseph Sullivan as principal.
Of all the priests who have served as curates at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church during Monsignor Vieira's pastorate, the future archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese, Humberto Sousa Medeiros, was at the South End parish for six months in 1949.
Monsignor Vieira was followed as pastor by the Rev. Jose Maria Bettencourt e Avila, who served from May 1964 to January 1974, dying in November 1988 at age 81. He, in turn, was succeeded as pastor by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Luiz Gonzaga Mendonca, V.G., who served from January 1974 until June 1994. The first New Bedford-born pastor of the church, Monsignor Mendonca had a lifelong affiliation with the parish, having been baptized there. His ordination in his parish church on June 10, 1944, was the first ever held outside the cathedral in Fall River.
Under Monsignor Mendonca, who also served as diocesan vicar general, the parish carried out a $3 million renovation of the church, which was completed on Nov. 18, 1990. During those three years, Mass was celebrated in the church school.
The funeral of Monsignor Mendonca, who died on Feb. 21, 1997, at 77, was attended by a cardinal, an archbishop and two bishops, one from the Azores.
Monsignor Mendonca was followed as pastor in June 1994 by the Very Rev. Henry S. Arruda. When Father Arruda was transferred to St. Anthony Church in Taunton in June 2001, he was replaced by Father Oliveira, the current and sixth pastor. Ordained in 1977, Father Oliveira previously had been pastor of St. John the Baptist Church.
Sun Chronicle (Attleboro MA)
NORTON -- A Bristol County grand jury is expected to indict a Catholic priest today for sexually abusing a young girl about 30 years ago while he was serving at St. Mary's Church in Norton, The Sun Chronicle has learned.
The Rev. Donald Bowen, who served at St. Mary's from 1965 to 1973, is expected to be indicted on sexual assault-related charges capping an investigation that began this spring.
Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh Jr. has scheduled a press conference in New Bedford at 2 p.m. Thursday to announce the indictment of a Catholic priest. The office did not disclose the identity of the priest.
However, a source close to the investigation confirmed that the priest is Bowen, who had been working at Catholic missionary parishes in Bolivia since leaving St. Mary's in 1973.
Officials to ID scores of accused priests
By Robin Washington and Eric Convey
The identities of more than 100 Bay State priests accused of child molestation are on the verge of release to the public - some as early as today - the Herald has learned.
In Suffolk County, Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney ordered the Archdiocese of Boston to turn over personnel files of at least 70 living and 15 deceased priests to a lawyer representing alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.
And in Bristol County, District Attorney Paul F. Walsh will announce the indictment of the Rev. Donald J. Bowen, and will release the names of 17 other Fall River Diocese priests accused of child sex abuse who have not been charged criminally, a law enforcement source told the Herald.
The release of the Fall River Diocese names by Walsh - the first prosecutor to do so - comes after months of frustration over the lack of prosecutable evidence submitted to him by the church, the source said.
"The DA's had it. He's releasing all the damn names on the list," the source said.
Walsh's spokesman, Richard Fabio, confirmed a clergy sex abuse indictment was coming today but declined to name the priest, whom multiple sources identified as Bowen.
Ordained in 1964, Bowen served at St. Patrick's Parish in Somerset and at St. Mary's in Norton before joining the Society of St. James the Apostle as a missionary in Latin America in the mid-1970s.
Created by the late Richard Cardinal Cushing and headquartered in Boston, the society has the continued support of Bernard Cardinal Law, who has visited its priests in frequent trips to Central America.
Another St. James priest, the Rev. Paul Madden, who served under Law in Mississippi, also has been accused of abuse.
An official with the society declined comment. A spokesman for the Fall River Diocese could not be reached and a Boston archdiocese spokesman, the Rev. Christopher Coyne, said the church's lawyers had yet to receive Sweeney's order.
"Until they've received the ruling and read it they have no decision as to what the response is going to be," he said, adding that the lawyers have not decided if they will challenge it.
Sweeney's order is in response to a motion by Roderick MacLeish Jr., requesting the materials as discovery in the Shanley case.
"Based on the plaintiff's (motion) the information requested is not considered privileged and is relevant to the claims asserted by the plaintiff against the defendant," Sweeney wrote in a handwritten notation, dated Sept. 23, on papers filed by MacLeish.
Though MacLeish has represented scores of alleged victims of dozens of priests, he said he is unaware of the identities of the 85 or more for which the archdiocese has received accusations of abuse occurring over the past 50 years.
"We know about 45 or 50. We don't know the rest of them," he said.
MacLeish said the files could contain evidence pointing more directly to a conspiracy by church officials to cover up abuse than individual records released so far.
"The potential for these documents to add force to the cases we have is tremendous. No longer will we be talking about the tip of the iceberg," he said.
Sweeney's ruling reinforces the legal momentum of the past year, in which various Superior Court judges have ruled that previously secret files on priests must be made available to plaintiffs suing the archdiocese and clergy over sex abuse and negligence claims.
In January, on a motion by the Boston Globe later joined by the Herald and other media, Sweeney ordered the public release of hundreds of internal files on jailed and defrocked priest John J. Geoghan.
In April, on a motion by the Herald later joined by other media, Judge Leila R. Kern ordered the public release of hundreds of internal files on Shanley.
Subsequently, various judges have allowed the release of church documents on the Revs. Ronald H. Paquin, Paul J. Mahan, Richard O. Matte, Joseph E. Birmingham, Paul R. Desilets, Ernest J. Tourigney, Richard H. Buntel and others implicated in abuse dating to 1960.
In the criminal arena, in early spring the archdiocese agreed to deliver documents on all 85 priests it had then identified as suspected abusers to Attorney General Tom Reilly and a half-dozen Bay State district attorneys. That information has not been released publicly, even as the names of newly accused priests have been added to the list.
The scores of lawsuits arising from the abuse scandal are now consolidated before Sweeney. With yesterday's ruling, the judge showed that the veil of secrecy that a year ago kept the names of known clergy molesters from public review has been lifted from archdiocese personnel records.
Tom Mashberg contributed to this report.
Rev. Donald J. Bowen Indicted for Sexual Assaults:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Refusing “to perpetuate the darkness” enshrouding priests accused of sex crimes whose identities have been protected for decades, Bristol District Attorney Paul F. Walsh, Jr. today announced both the indictment of one priest and the names of others for whom no prosecution can be brought at present.
The grand jury yesterday returned indictments against Rev. Donald J. Bowen, 64, who formerly served in the Fall River Diocese but who’s lived in Bolivia for about thirty years as part of The Missionary Society of St. James, an association of diocesan priest volunteers headquartered in Boston. The indictments allege a course of sexual abuse against a girl from the time she was nine until she was 16. Bowen is charged with one count alleging unnatural and lascivious acts on a person under the age of 16 years and one count alleging indecent assault and battery of a child under the age of 14. Each indictment alleges acts repeatedly inflicted on a solitary victim for years. The alleged conduct ended in about 1971, shortly before Bowen’s transfer to Bolivia.
Walsh’s decision to release the names of other accused priests “did not come easily.”
“My staff and I discussed at length the ramifications of releasing the list. I understand that I will be criticized for committing to such a rare course of action.
In the end,” Walsh said, “the deciding factor was this: we will not be a party to perpetuating the darkness, to protecting the silence and the secrecy.
“Enough is enough.”
Walsh said that prosecutions against those named besides Bowen are not possible currently for several reasons. Either the statute of limitations has expired or victims do not wish to relive their experiences in court --or both -- or, in one case, the priest is deceased. He hopes, however, that releasing the list may prompt further information.
“If any person has evidence involving any of those named, I call upon that person to come forward. Let us evaluate these horrendous possibilities in the bright light of day,” Walsh said.
The district attorney said that legal counsel for Bowen has contacted his office and indicated that the priest will return from Bolivia to face the charges. If not, the district attorney will initiate an application for extradition proceedings.
Excerpt of September 26, 2002 Press Conference
By District Attorney Paul F. Walsh, Jr.
"The decision to release this list was a difficult decision, and an important one. Normally in a circumstance where this office investigates an individual but does not bring a charge, we would not identify the suspect on that case until he became an actual defendant charged with a crime. That is standard operating procedure in the Bristol County District Attorney's Office. However, I felt that there were two reasons to override that policy in this circumstance. The first is this: The shroud of secrecy has gone on long enough. I cannot, and I will not, pretend that these victims don’t exist. I cannot and will not pretend that we don’t know these names. I cannot and will not pretend that these criminal acts did not occur. I think it is time for the pretension to end."
The statement of Bristol District Attorney Paul F. Walsh, Jr. regarding his decision to release to the public the names of priests accused of sexual misconduct can be viewed under "Press Releases"
Statement of Bristol District Attorney Paul F. Walsh, Jr. regarding his decision to release to the public the names of priests accused of sexual misconduct:
"I want you to know that the decision to release the names of priests accused of sexual misconduct but thus far not charged, did not come easily. My staff and I discussed at length the ramifications of releasing the list. I understand that I will be criticized for committing to such a rare course of action.
In the end, the deciding factor was this: we will not be a party to perpetuating the darkness, to protecting the silence and the secrecy. Someone, perhaps it was Hubert Humphrey, once said that we become a part of what we condone.
I do not condone assaults on children by anyone at any time. I will not be party to perpetuating the darkness. Let the light of day shine on these accusations that have lain hidden so long.
Enough is enough.
Additionally, if any person has evidence involving any of those named, I call upon that person to come forward. Let us evaluate these horrendous possibilities in the bright light of day."
1. Raymond McCarthy- 4 av; no response
2. Gilbert Simoes - 6 av; beyond statute
3. Paul Connelly - 8 av; no response & beyond statute
4. Arthur DeMello - 1 av; no response & beyond statute
5. John Cronin - 3 av; beyond statute
6. Norman Boulet - 2 av; beyond statute
7. James Murphy - 3 av; no response & beyond statute
8. Donald Bowen - Indictment
9. Stephen Furtado - 1 av; no jurisdiction
10. Donald Messier - 1 av; no response & beyond statute
11. Stanley Barney - 1 av; no response & beyond statute
12. Phillip Higgins - 1 av; no response & beyond statute
13. Kevin Tripp - 2 av; no response & beyond statute
14. Raymond Robillard - 2 av; no response & beyond statute
15. David Landry - 1 av; no response & beyond statute
16. Joseph Mcquire - 1 av; V not interested
17. Edward Rausch - 1 av; no response beyond statute
18. Robert Kaszynski - 4 av; beyond statute
19. Albert Berube - 1 av; Deceased
20. Edward Paquette - 4 av; beyond statute
21. George Avellar - 1 av; Deceased
Diocese of Fall River
For the past ten years, the Diocese of Fall River, under the leadership of Bishop Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., has committed itself voluntarily to follow the reporting laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, the Diocese has required all priests, deacons, employees, and volunteers who have access to children to undergo a criminal background check and to attend a training session on sexual abuse. Over 20,000 people in the Diocese have undergone a CORI background check and attended a training session. A review board comprised of judges, law enforcement personnel, victims, parents of victims, social workers, psychologists, and canon and civil lawyers have helped to develop diocesan policies and oversee their implementation. The policies have been followed in all the cases that have come to the attention of the Diocese.
The Bishop has cooperated fully with the District Attorney and his office to ensure the safety and protection of children in our parishes and Diocesan settings. In March of this year, Bishop O’Malley took the initiative in offering to the District Attorney the names of priests against whom allegations of sexual misconduct had been made. Although some of these allegations were made in recent years, they all referred to sexual misconduct which occurred twenty to fifty years ago. No priest named by the District Attorney today is currently engaged in priestly ministry. Many of the names submitted were already known to the District Attorney’s Offices. The Bishop decided to offer information concerning past allegations to the District Attorney’s Office because of the heightened concerns over clergy abuse in recent times. From the beginning, the Diocese pledged its full cooperation with the District Attorney; at no time did the District Attorney have to threaten or cajole. It has never been our intention to conceal anything from law enforcement agencies; had public officials asked for past records at any time, the Diocese would have made them available. Our commitment voluntarily to follow all state reporting laws over the last decade is a clear indication that the Diocese would prefer to have the state investigate and pronounce on any allegations against priests. However, as has happened at times in the past, it has been law enforcement officials who referred victims to the Diocese because their hands were tied due to the statute of limitations which offered a limited window to prosecute.
During his ten years as Bishop of Fall River, Bishop O’Malley has
met with victims of clerical sexual abuse and has expressed his profound
sorrow for the deep hurt and distress they have suffered. It is his hope
that members of the Diocese, through carefully planned prevention programs,
may safeguard our young people and strive to eliminate abuse of children
in all forms.
By Tom Mashberg
The Bristol County DA sternly rebuked the departing bishop of Fall River yesterday for letting a decade go by after the prosecution of the Rev. James R. Porter to hand over the names of 21 other priests ousted amid sex abuse allegations.
"Why didn't (Bishop Sean. P. O'Malley) release these names to us 10 years ago?" DA Paul F. Walsh asked at a New Bedford news conference, during which he also announced the two-count indictment of one former Fall River Diocese priest, the Rev. Donald J. Bowen.
The indictment charges Bowen, 64, currently in Bolivia as a missionary with the Boston-based Society of St. James The Apostle, with abusing a girl for seven years starting when she was 9, while he ministered in Fall River in the 1960s and 1970s.
His indictment was reported in yesterday's Herald. Neither the society nor Bowen's lawyer, Peter Muse, would comment yesterday.
Walsh said he was able to obtain the indictment because any statute of limitations on the allegations froze after Bowen left the country, and the victim is willing to testify.
In publicizing the names of the 21 other former Fall River Diocese priests, who all left the church amid abuse allegations, Walsh said he was dismayed those names had not been released until March.
Walsh said he might have been able to prosecute more of the suspect priests before the statute of limitations on them also expired.
"That is the worst result of this state of affairs," he said, "and that is why I am so disturbed by this."
O'Malley, who won praise in the 1990s for rescuing his 200-priest Southern Massachusetts diocese from the devastation wrought by the Porter case, defended his actions yesterday in a news release.
O'Malley "has cooperated fully with the district attorney and his office to ensure the safety and protection of children in parishes and diocese settings," his release said.
While acknowledging that the 21 names were not handed over until six months ago, he added: "No priest named . . . is currently engaged in priestly ministry." O'Malley also said some of the names were previously known to law enforcement and that in some cases the abuse dates back 50 years.
O'Malley was recently appointed bishop of West Palm Beach, Fla.
Walsh said he released the names to encourage possible victims to step forward so he can weigh more indictments.
Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who negotiated settlements on behalf of scores of Porter victims, commended Walsh for releasing the names. "This validates the victims who have suffered in silence," he said, "and opens up the possibility of more prosecutions."
Here is a list of the priests named yesterday and their legal status:
1. Raymond McCarthy; four alleged victims.
2. Gilbert Simoes; six alleged victims; beyond the statute of limitations.
3. Paul Connelly; eight alleged victims; beyond statute.
4. Arthur DeMello; one alleged victim; beyond statute.
5. John Cronin; three alleged victims; beyond the statute.
6. Norman Boulet; two alleged victims; beyond statute.
7. James Murphy; three alleged victims; beyond statute.
8. Donald J. Bowen; indicted.
9. Stephen Furtado; one alleged victim; no jurisdiction because incident was outside Bristol County.
10. Donald Messier; one alleged victim; beyond statute.
11. Stanley Barney, one alleged victim; beyond statute.
12. Phillip Higgins, one alleged victim; beyond statute.
13. Kevin Tripp; two alleged victims; beyond statute.
14. Raymond Robillard; two alleged victims; beyond statute.
15. David Landry; one alleged victim; beyond statute.
16. Joseph McQuire; one alleged victim; victim not interested in pursuing case.
17. Edward Rausch; one alleged victim; beyond statute.
18. Robert Kaszynski: four alleged victims; beyond statute.
19. Albert Berube: one alleged victim; deceased.
20. Edward Paquette; four alleged victims; beyond statute.
21. George Avellar; one alleged victim; deceased.
Robin Washington contributed to this report.
Bristol's DA Lists Names of Accused Priests
By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll
New Bedford - Bristol District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. yesterday released the names of 20 priests accused of sexual misconduct in complaints to the Fall River Diocese, drawing praise from advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse and denunciation from others who said Walsh had run roughshod over the rights of the accused.
During a news conference in which he also announced the indictment of a one-time Fall River priest on abuse charges, Walsh said he knew his extraordinary decision to name priests facing accusations too old to prosecute would create controversy. But he said his frustration at the recalcitrance of church officials, including Bishop Sean O'Malley, had forced him to act.
"We will not be a party to protecting the darkness, to protecting the silence and secrecy," Walsh said, adding that he hopes the release of the names will embolden other victims to come forward with accusations that might fall within the statute of limitations, the window of time in which child sex abuse charges may be prosecuted.
The Fall River Diocese, in a statement, said it had "cooperated fully with the district attorney and his office to ensure the safety and protection of children in our parishes."
There has been no similar large-scale release of priests' names in the Boston Archdiocese, where two of Walsh's peers - Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley and Norfolk District Attorney William Keating - said yesterday they would not release the names of priests similarly accused unless they are able to secure criminal indictments. And some attorneys representing accused priests, as well as some known for defending civil liberties, said Walsh had tarred the reputations of clergymen who may never get a chance to defend themselves at trial.
"This is so unfair because you're saying to people who supposedly did something decades ago that because they can't be prosecuted, because the statute of limitations has run out, they're going to be convicted in the press," said Michael Altman, attorney for a priest suspended earlier this year by the Boston Archdiocese. "That's not how the justice system is supposed to work."
Harvey Silverglate, a Boston criminal defense attorney and civil libertarian, also criticized Walsh, saying that the priests who were named but remain unindicted won't have the legal tools of a criminally charged defendant - including the right to subpoena evidence and witnesses.
"I think what the district attorney did is unprofessional, unethical, and in many ways immoral," Silverglate said.
But attorneys for victims of clergy sexual abuse hailed Walsh's decision to release the names of priests facing accusations too old to prosecute, saying that Walsh had encouraged other victims to come forward while underscoring the need to widen or abolish the statute of limitations in cases of this kind.
"Today's action is a signal to the Legislature that the statute of limitations for child rape and molestation must be changed," said Roderick MacLeish Jr., a Boston lawyer with the firm Greenberg Traurig, which represents more than 200 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse.
David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group, also praised Walsh, saying that Walsh had given solace to those who might have been abused by the priests he named and had provided valuable information to parents seeking to protect their children from sexual molesters. Walsh said that none of the unindicted priests he named were in active ministry; two are dead.
As he named those priests, Walsh also announced the indictment of the Rev. Donald J. Bowen, 64, who left the Fall River Diocese in 1971 to work in Bolivia, where he currently resides, under the missionary Society of St. James. Bowen was charged with sexually abusing a girl from the time she was 9 years old until she was 16. The accusation was still open to prosecution because the statute of limitations is suspended when the accused leaves the state.
Walsh, in explaining his decision to release the names, cited O'Malley's failure to hand over the names of accused priests years ago, and said the bishop's inaction probably had resulted in an injustice for both the alleged victims and accused priests.
"We're prohibited from an effective prosecution and the priests are prohibited from an effective exoneration. That's the injustice for the victims and the guys on the list," Walsh said.
O'Malley, who has had a reputation for forthrightly addressing the issue of clergy sexual abuse, is scheduled to leave the Fall River Diocese next month to be installed as the leader of the Palm Beach, Fla., Diocese, which has been rocked by the resignations of its last two bishops over sexual abuse allegations.
O'Malley did not respond to Walsh directly. But, in a statement, the Fall River Diocese strenuously rejected Walsh's criticisms, saying that abuse cases had been consistently reported to authorities for the last 10 years.
"At no time did the district attorney have to threaten or cajole. It has never been our intention to conceal anything from law enforcement agencies. Had public officials asked for past records at any time, the diocese would have made them available," the statement said.
Coakley said she would not follow Walsh in releasing the names of accused but unindicted priests, citing the unfairness of treating priests accused of sexual abuse differently than anyone else accused of committing a crime.
David Traub, a spokesman for Keating, said: "From the very beginning this investigation has been treated like any other investigation, and this office does not release the names of people who are investigated but not charged," Traub said.
Still, Walsh does not appear to have violated any law or any of the rules of professional conduct for attorneys or prosecutors, according to Arnold R. Rosenfeld, the former head of the state board that oversees lawyers' conduct.
The action Walsh took yesterday mirrors a decision earlier this week by Cardinal William H. Keeler to publicize the names of 83 priests accused of sexually molesting minors in the Baltimore Archdiocese over 70 years.
In a letter to 180,000 Catholic households, Keeler said he would review the names of the accused priests, none of whom are active, with clergymen now serving the archdiocese and then post the names of the accused priests on the archdiocesan Web site. "At times, we have let our fears of scandal override the need for the kind of openness that helps prevent abuse," Keeler said in his letter.
More Names Released
No others were listed by the district attorney as having denied or admitted wrongdoing.
DA takes bishop to task
By Steve Urbon
Declaring "the shroud of secrecy has gone on long enough," Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. yesterday accused Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley of sitting on the cases of priests accused of sexual misconduct.
Diocese of Fall River officials strongly rejected Mr. Walsh's accusation.
Mr. Walsh produced a list with the names of 20 former priests who, at some time in their career, had complaints filed against them. The statute of limitations for criminal prosecution in all these cases has expired.
One additional priest, the Rev. Donald Bowen, who 30 years ago served at St. Mary Church in Norton, was indicted by a county grand jury Wednesday and was charged with one count of indecent assault and one count of unnatural and lascivious acts. The alleged conduct ended in 1971.
[Photo Caption - Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. speaks at a news conference announcing a list of priests he says have been accused of sexual abuse. In the photo in the background, the Rev. Donald Bowen, 64, an accused priest, stands with a group of children. Jack Iddon/The Standard-Times]
Mr. Walsh said a lawyer for the Rev. Bowen had called to say that the priest would return from his mission in Bolivia to face the charges.
Under the statutes as they were written at the time of the alleged crimes decades ago, he faces five years imprisonment on each count. The clock stopped on the statute of limitations when he left the country.
Mr. Walsh hailed the courage of the victim in coming forward after several decades, and said he hopes the woman's example -- she is 47 now -- would be an inspiration to others.
Mr. Walsh expressed frustration, stating that if he had known about the cases earlier he might have been able to prosecute them.
"We don't know if we would have been able to prosecute. That's an answer we will never know and that is why I am so disturbed about this delay in giving these names to the Bristol County district attorney's office," said Mr. Walsh at an afternoon press conference.
"I will not pretend these victims don't exist. I won't pretend we don't know names. I won't pretend this type of conduct did not occur," he said.
He said the information was provided by the diocese after "a delicate but ultimately forceful request" earlier this year. Asked why he didn't seek the information a decade ago after the James Porter case, Mr. Walsh said, "perhaps it was naivete on my part."
"I've been here for 10 years and so has (Bishop O'Malley). I hadn't heard these names until just recently," said Mr. Walsh, who is running unopposed for re-election in November. Bishop O'Malley leaves next month for the Palm Beach, Fla., diocese.
The Diocese of Fall River sharply disputed Mr. Walsh's charge that it hadn't been cooperative and timely.
"In March of this year, Bishop O'Malley took the initiative in offering to the district attorney the names of priests against whom allegations of sexual misconduct had been made," the diocese responded in a written statement. "Although some of these allegations were made in recent years, they all referred to sexual misconduct which occurred 20 to 50 years ago. No priest named by the district attorney today is currently engaged in priestly ministry. Many of the names submitted were already known to the district attorney's offices. The bishop decided to offer information concerning past allegations to the district attorney's office because of the heightened concerns over clergy abuse in recent times. From the beginning, the diocese pledged its full cooperation with the district attorney; at no time did the district attorney have to threaten or cajole."
Diocese spokesman John Kearns produced a newspaper report from April quoting Mr. Walsh as saying, "At the request of the Fall River Diocese ... an exchange of information has begun. More is contemplated."
In fact, said the diocese, the flow of information was often from law enforcement officials to the diocese.
"It has been law enforcement officials who referred victims to the diocese because their hands were tied due to the statue of limitations which offered a limited window to prosecute," the diocese stated.
Since the Porter case, the Fall River diocese has been held up as a model for the proper handling of accusations against priests, counseling of victims and the safeguarding of children. Bishop O'Malley put in place a strict policy of screening personnel at all levels and reporting accusations to law enforcement authorities.
But Mr. Walsh saw it differently yesterday.
"When the Porter case came out it would have been a perfect time for them to tell us about other cases. To sit there for 10 years and pretend that there are no other cases in Bristol County perpetuates a falsehood, and I'm not going to be a part of that."
Before Porter, it was a long-standing practice to settle such cases secretly and out of court, and most of the cases cited by the district attorney predated Bishop O'Malley's arrival.
One of the priests on Mr. Walsh's list, however, was publicly accused 10 years ago, amid the Porter turmoil. The Rev. Paul G. Connolly, a former New Bedford priest then serving in Taunton, was put on administrative leave by Bishop O'Malley after six people came forward with accusations of misconduct.
After initial press reports based on unnamed sources, the diocese confirmed that information in a press release.
But Mr. Walsh decided not to become involved. After interviewing an alleged victim referred to his office by Porter victims' attorney Roderick MacLeish, Mr. Walsh declined to prosecute. "We spoke with one individual and after speaking with him decided there was nothing to investigate or to prosecute," Mr. Walsh said at the time.
"We have heard through the media that there were three individuals (later six)," but until they come forward, they're not cases," said Mr. Walsh in September 1992. Mr. Walsh would not say at the time why his office would not press an investigation of the Rev. Connolly, saying that going into detail would be a breach of confidentiality in such cases.
Asked yesterday to reconcile that scenario with Mr. Walsh's statement that he "hadn't heard these names until just recently," Assistant District Attorney Gerald T. FitzGerald angrily said there was no contradiction, that Mr. Walsh was being misinterpreted. He then became personally abusive to a reporter before hanging up the phone.
Some of the other names on the list are much more recent, and victims' attorneys heaped praise on Mr. Walsh for his decision to reveal all of them.
Gina Dines Holness, an attorney in Mr. MacLeish's firm, said she "strongly supports" Mr. Walsh's actions. The firm represents the alleged victims of several of the priests on Mr. Walsh's list, among whom is the Rev. Robert Kaszynski, former pastor of St. Stanislaus parish in Fall River, who resigned earlier this year after one allegation. Now there are four allegations. Frank Nebush of Utica, N.Y., the husband of one of the accusers, Joyce Nebush, said yesterday, "I never thought (Walsh) would do anything."
Ms. Holness said: "He should be applauded that he took the step to name the names of people who are immune because of the statute of limitations. The fact is that people are coming out now because they are reminded in some way" by the revelations.
Her firm also represents clients who have filed civil claims because of the alleged actions of other priests on the list: the Rev. Raymond McCarthy, with four alleged victims; Monsignor Albert Berube, one alleged victim; and the Rev. George Avellar, one alleged victim. (The Standard-Times is not listing those who are not the subject of official complaints).
Monsignor Berube, longtime pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Church in New Bedford, died in 1993. Also deceased is the Rev. Avellar, who served at Mount Carmel Church in New Bedford. The Rev. McCarthy is an Attleboro native, ordained in 1954, who served at Sacred Heart Parish in Fall River, and later at St. Patrick Church in Fall River. He then was transferred to St. Mark's Parish in Attleboro Falls, and to Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville on Cape Cod in 1969.
Mr. Walsh's decision to name names wasn't universally applauded. One source close to the Porter case said, "It's outrageous to throw out the names of 20 people who aren't accused of anything. If he released the names of 15 people who other people said stole things, no one would run that list in a million years. Is that the way our democratic system works? We throw it out and say we're now stirring up the pot?"
Mr. Walsh said, "My staff and I discussed at length the ramifications of releasing the list. I understand that I will be criticized for committing to such a rare course of action.
"The deciding factor was this: We will not be a party to perpetuating the darkness, to protecting the silence and the secrecy. Enough is enough."
Mr. Walsh's decision goes a step beyond what other prosecutors have done. Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz declined to comment on Mr. Walsh's move, but said he would probably not have done the same because "the vast majority of the cases are beyond the statute of limitations."
Essex County District Attorney Kevin Burke, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, said he would be reluctant to release the names of priests who had not been charged unless he believed they were a "clear and present danger" to the public.
"It's a real balancing test -- the rights of individuals who have the potential of being accused of a crime but they can't be prosecuted versus the public safety and the right of citizens to know," Mr. Burke said. "It is a very tough call."
Bishop responds to release of names
Sun Chronicle (Attleboro MA)
Bishop Sean O'Malley, head of the Diocese of Fall River, is speaking out in response to the release on Thursday by Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh of the names of 21 area priests accused of abuse.
In a statement released Saturday, he promised continued cooperation with investigators.
On the list was the Rev. Donald Bowen, who was pastor at St. Mary's Church in Norton decades ago. Bowen is accused of sexually assaulting a local girl while at St. Mary's in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Walsh is seeking the extradition of Bowen, who is now living in Bolivia.
Also on the list was the Rev. Stephen Furtado, who was removed by O'Malley a few months ago as pastor of Attleboro's Holy Ghost Church. He was accused of impropriety involving one person in Canada, which is outside Walsh's jurisdiction. That case has been forwarded to the proper authorities, Walsh said.
Bishop O'Malley's statement says:
``When I came to Fall River, I was unaware of old cases of child abuse. I was focused on the Porter case and how to establish policies to ensure the safety of our children. After the policies were in place, I tried to bring any past cases that came to my attention into conformity with those policies by requiring that reporting laws be followed, that perpetrators be removed from parish ministry and unsupervised access to children, and that they be evaluated by a team of psychologists.
``In the last few months, half the dioceses of the United States reviewed their files and turned over names of priests accused over the last 50 years. The Fall River Diocese did the same. All of the names reflected events that took place between 20 to 50 years ago.
``If I had had any indication that civil authorities were interested
in prosecuting these older cases, I would have done this exercise sooner.
It is my firm conviction that child abuse is a crime, and that it is preferable
to have civil authorities investigate the accusations and make a determination
about their validity. The Diocese of Fall River pledges itself to continue
cooperation with civil authorities.''
Original material copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.