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  Deposition of Fr. James J. Scahill

Susan F. Morris vs. Richard Lavigne, Joseph Maguire, Robert Thrasher and Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield

[Part 1: Direct Examination by John Stobierski]

http://www.masslive.com/news/church/index.ssf?/news/church/scahill.html
Posted on MassLive.com 10/29/03

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Hampden Superior Court C.A. No. 03-241

APPEARANCES:

STOBIERSKI & STOBIERSKI
377 Main Street, Greenfield, Massachusetts 01301, representing the Plaintiff.
BY: JOHN STOBIERSKI, ESQUIRE DANIELLE BARSHAK, ESQUIRE

EGAN, FLANAGAN AND COHEN, P.C.
67 Market Street, P.O. Box 9035, Springfield, Massachusetts 01102, representing the Defendants Joseph MaGuire, Robert Thrasher and Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
BY: JOHN J. EGAN, ESQUIRE EDWARD J. MCDONOUGH JR., ESQUIRE

DOHERTY, WALLACE, PILLSBURY & MURPHY, P.C.
One Monarch Place, Suite 1900, 1414 Main Street, Springfield, Massachusetts 01144, representing the Defendants Joseph MaGuire, Robert Thrasher and Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
BY: PHILIP J. CALLAN JR., ESQUIRE, MICHAEL CALLAN, ESQUIRE

MARY E. MCNALLY, ESQUIRE
1350 Main Street, Springfield, Massachusetts 01103, representing James J. Scahill.

STIPULATIONS

It is agreed by and between the parties that all objections, except objections as to the form of the question, are reserved to be raised at the time of trial for the first time.

It is further agreed by and between the parties that all motions to strike un-responsive answers are also reserved to be raised at the time of trial for the first time.

It is further agreed that the deponent will read and sign the deposition and that the filing of the said deposition will be waived.

It is further agreed by and between the parties that notification to all parties of the receipt of the original deposition transcript is also hereby waived.

JAMES J. SCAHILL, Deponent, having been first duly sworn, deposes and says as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. STOBIERSKI

Q. Father Scahill, my name is John Stobierski. I am deposing you on behalf of a deposition notice on behalf of Susan Morris. You were served with a deposition notice or you received one; do you recall that?

A. I didn't receive it.

Q. Okay. Do you know whether or not your attorney accepted service of a deposition subpoena on your behalf?

A. Yes.

Q. Maybe I'll turn to -

A. I didn't receive a formal paper.

Q. You are here to testify in a deposition, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And do you understand that your attorney accepted a subpoena on your behalf for you to be here today?

A. My attorney does what attorneys do.
MS. MCNALLY: For the record I did accept it. He faxed it to me so you did receive it. I received it on your behalf.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Father Scahill, there is one other - a couple ground rules about the deposition today. One of them is that you have an opportunity to read and sign this deposition after it is completed. You can either waive that right or you can exercise your right to read and sign. And if you do exercise that right you have an opportunity to review the deposition and correct any stenographic errors or make any changes that you deem appropriate to your testimony, although that has certain legal implications you can go through with your attorney. You don't have to make a decision at this point but when the deposition is concluded you will have to make a decision.

THE WITNESS: We've spoken to that, haven't we?

MS. MCNALLY: Yes, we have.
THE WITNESS: And what have we decided?
MS. MCNALLY: We're going to read and sign.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) There are several other ground rules with respect to this deposition I'd like to go over with you. One is for the stenographer's benefit; you need to let me finish my questions before you start your answers because she can't take the testimony of two people talking at the same time. And I'll try to do the same thing for you. If at any time any of my questions are confusing to you or you don't understand them, please ask me to rephrase them. It's important that you understand the question I'm asking before you provide an answer to it. If at any time you need to take a break during this deposition either to use the facilities, for water, if you want to speak to your attorney, simply ask for one. This is not a grand inquisition, I mean it's more informal.

You also need to understand that the answers you are giving today are recorded by a stenographer and those answers can be used in future court proceedings, okay?

Sometimes, and I'm not sure if this will happen in this deposition, attorneys will object to questions that are asked. I won't object to my own questions but the other attorneys in this room may. You are to disregard those objections and just answer the question as it was posed to you unless your attorney instructs you not to answer. There may be some instances where a privilege may be claimed and your attorney will assert it and instruct you not to answer and we'll take it from there, but if you hear "objection" just continue on with the deposition.

A. And can you challenge questions these attorneys may ask of me?

Q. I can object to them and your attorney can object to them. There's supposed to be only one reason for an instruction not to answer a question and that is if there is a privilege involved or if it is so far out of the bounds of the rules of depositions, so there are very few instances in which there are objections that would require you not to answer the question, okay?

Before I begin, do you have any questions of me with respect to this deposition?

A. I don't believe so.

Q. So, Father Scahill, where do you reside?

A. I reside at, I think it's 108 Maple Street, East Longmeadow. I know the parish office is 128, but I think the rectory is 108 Maple Street, East Longmeadow.

Q. And are you currently a pastor in this diocese?

A. Yes, I'm a pastor and have been for some 16 years.

Q. And what is the church you are a pastor at?

A. Saint Michael's Parish, East Longmeadow.

Q. And how long have you been a pastor there?

A. I reported to Saint Michael's, East Longmeadow May 3rd, 2002.

Q. Do you consider yourself an employee of the Diocese of Springfield?

A. That's correct.

Q. I'd like to ask you some brief questions on your educational background. Where did you do your undergraduate work?

A. I went to Saint Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut, and then I went to Mount Saint Mary's in Emmitsburg, Maryland for the final two years of college, Mount Saint Mary's College. It was a college. And then I completed my four years of theology at Mount Saint Mary's School of Theology, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Q. And when did you complete the various degrees that you just testified to?

A. I graduated from high school in '65, from college in '69, and I was ordained a priest in 1974 after getting a master of arts degree in the systematic dogmatic theology.

Q. Have you received any other advanced degrees other than the ones you've just testified to?

A. No.

Q. And how did you find yourself to be a priest in the Diocese of Springfield?

A. How did I find myself?

Q. Did you grow up or live in -

A. I grew up on Hungry Hill in Springfield. I went to Sacred Heart School on Stafford Street and then to Cathedral High School.

Q. Where were you assigned when you were ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Springfield?

A. I was ordained June 15, 1974 and my first assignment was Blessed Sacrament Parish in Greenfield. I was there for about three years.

Q. As a curate?

A. As a curate.

Q. Where was your next assignment?

A. My next assignment was to Saint Mary's Church in Lee, Massachusetts and I was there four years and some months; and then I reported to Holy Cross Parish in Springfield, I believe it was September of 1981; and I was named pastor of Saint Mary's in East Springfield in - on April 15th, 1988.

Q. And after -

A. Having been ordained by Bishop Weldon in 1974.

Q. And after you were at Saint Mary's did you move to - excuse me - after Saint Mary's in East Springfield did you then assume the pastorship of your current church?

A. Yes. The way it goes now is when a parish becomes vacant priests ordained for so many years can apply for consideration. And having been at Saint Mary's, East Springfield for some 14 years and in that I was 55 I thought if I was going to move it was good timing. I thought it was - and my thoughts I liked the town experience in Lee so when East Longmeadow became open I put my name in. Frankly, I can share with you I wasn't the first choice. The man that they chose first changed his mind so I sort of got it on the rebound.

Q. And is the parish in East Longmeadow considered a desirable parish in your opinion?

A. It was to me.

Q. Let me now talk to you about the issue that we're here to talk about today and it is a statement that was made at a Presbyteral Council meeting?

A. Yes.

Q. What I'd like to do is ask you when did that meeting occur?

A. Okay. I was elected to the Presbyteral Council in December 2001 and the meeting in question occurred in February or March of 2002.

Q. Okay. Are there - how frequently does this council meet?

A. They meet - they attempt to meet monthly except I believe for July and August they don't convene.

Q. And are you sure that it was either in February or March -

A. Yes.

Q. - of 2002?

A. I am sure of that.

Q. And how are you sure of that?

A. Because I have a good memory at this point.

Q. Okay. There isn't any - something that happened that would jog your memory to make sure it was either February or March?

A. No, because this is a serious matter and I have stated what I have stated and could I state it again? At that meeting -

MS. MCNALLY: Why don't you just wait for a question.
MR. CALLAN: There's no question.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) You were elected to the Presbyteral Council you testified to in 2001?

A. Yes.

Q. And who elected you?

A. The priests of the Diocese.

Q. Did you have to run for election?

A. No, you don't run. They just send out the names of all the priests and priests can circle the ones that they want to vote for and it goes through a preliminary and then a final.

Q. And did you express an interest in serving on Presbyteral Council?

A. No, I did not campaign for it.

Q. And did you ask to be on it?

A. No, I didn't do any of those things.

Q. Something your fellow priests just elected you to because they knew who you were?

A. Yes, though I don't think I'll be re-elected.

Q. How long had you served on that Presbyteral Council prior to the February, March meeting that we'll be speaking about in a moment?

A. January.

Q. So this was your second or third meeting?

A. That's right.

Q. Now, why don't you tell me why this meeting sticks out in your mind so much?

A. Because of what was said and the whole evolution of things.

Q. Okay. Why don't we talk about the evolution before we get into what was said. Was there an evolution occurring in your development at the time the statement was made?
MR. CALLAN: Objection. What do you mean by evolution, Mr. Stobierski?

MR. STOBIERSKI: Perhaps he'll explain it and you'll understand.
MR. CALLAN: Well, what do you mean? You're putting the question to him. The word must have some meaning in the question to have some meaning to the witness. I object to the form since that word is so vague.

MR. STOBIERSKI: Okay. You can object. So noted.
MR. CALLAN: I did.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Was something happening in your development as a priest that made this meeting notable to you?

MR. CALLAN: I object to the form of that question as well. You may answer, sir.
THE WITNESS: I would hope, sir, that you would permit me to express myself.
MR. CALLAN: I shall indeed, but I have to voice my objections for this record as Mr. Stobierski would to my question.
THE WITNESS: Thank you. Thank you for that consideration. I was pastor of Saint Mary's in East Springfield in 1991 when everything hit the fan about Richard Lavigne and people came to me in light of that, discussing memories. There weren't a lot of people, just a few people.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Can I stop you there just for a second?

A. Yes, you can.

Q. Saint Mary's Parish in East Springfield people came to you?

A. Right, where Richard had been from the late sixties to the mid-seventies. This is 1991 now. I went there in '88.

Q. You were pastor there?

A. Yes.

Q. And what did people come to you and say?

A. About the fact that their son had been bothered, that he had a reputation for sleepovers at the rectory. That is enough on that. Let me just say that after a couple of months things seemed to subside. In fact, there was no real rage. There was no groundswell that came to me when he received only probation. The spirit in the parish was good so I just went with that.

Q. What happened next?

A. Well, I think another important thing which I would want to share because it was part of - part of this - this whole situation, was when I went to Saint Mary's in East Springfield, in 1988 in residence at the parish was Father Kevin Souza, who at the time was director of Holyoke Catholic High School, and Father Souza lived very reclusively.

Q. Did he live in the rectory?

A. Yes, he lived in the rectory. He was in residence there. I was not his pastor. He was director of Holyoke Catholic High School but I was the senior priest there and I tried to challenge Father that something was bothering him and he didn't have to talk to me but he had to talk to someone. He would not eat meals. Father Sexton, Father John Sexton, was in retirement with me. He would not eat meals and -

Q. What other things that gave you the sense that there was something wrong with Father Souza?

A. Just the fact that he did not interact. He would go up the back stairwell. It would be hard to even meet him. And the few times that I met him I told him after a while that I was concerned that something was troubling him and that he should speak to someone about it.

Q. And how did he respond to you?

A. He didn't do anything about it because the behavior continued. So then, I can't remember exactly when, maybe it was 1989, maybe it was very early 1990, I literally told Father he had to leave. I could not enable that behavior.

Q. And you found that behavior so difficult that he could not continue to live there?

A. It troubled me that something was troubling him and, therefore, I had to ask a younger priest than I to leave, which is not a good thing when you're a new pastor but I don't regret it at all because he did go to another rectory and after a period of time he did leave the priesthood. And then in I believe it was March of 2002, on the front page of the Sunday Republican was the article wherein Kevin Souza alleges that Richard Lavigne molested him. That was a kick in the stomach. So that was I think a second thing corollary with the '91, those months right around the revelation in '91. And then also -

Q. Can I ask you a question on that? Is that - when you read the article in the Union on Kevin Souza - is that the first time you understood him to have been a victim of Richard Lavigne?

A. No, there had been rumors that he had been. There had been rumors that he had been but that just clarified his behavior to me for the year, year-and-a-half that we were together.

And then you have the statement that bishop did make with a bunch of priests in February or March 2002 in the midst of the Globe's revelations. And then when I went to East Longmeadow - and, by the way, when bishop did say what he said I confided in my best friend, Father Soranno, what he had said.

When I went to Saint Mary's - Saint Michael's in May of 2002, one of the first things that happened was that Sister Mary McGeer, a long time Sister of Saint Joseph, who is very respected I have to add and a good, good woman, spoke to me about the number of parents that had come to her, letters that were written to her with a growing rage as regards the handling of this abusive behavior towards children. And I met with some of those parents and I listened to them.

Q. And what time frame are we talking about?

A. It would have been May, the month of May of 2002. And in light of that I asked bishop to - to please come out and say he wanted to laicize Lavigne, this one, this one, and that he would not - we would sever all connections with him because he truly was a multiple offending pedophile or ephebophile.

But I think that when I listened to them and I asked bishop this one to cut loose because I really was concerned not so much - I really was concerned that we are ongoingly responsible because this man is not imprisoned and multiple offenders don't just stop. And I suggested at that time that a separate fund could be established, maybe operated by a bank, and anyone that wanted to contribute, including bishop and priests could contribute to that fund but we would just cut away from our connection to him which makes us ongoingly liable and also responsible to society to monitor his behavior, which we are not. He's not got an anklet bracelet or anything like that.

Q. Now, did you -

A. Can I - can I -

Q. Did you have a one-on-one conversation with Bishop Dupre in May of 2002?

A. I had a phone conversation with Bishop Dupre - I had a couple of phone conversations with Bishop Dupre at the very end of May, maybe even into June.

Q. And what was his response when you made that -

A. Well, he basically said you'll not tell me what to do. And he then, of course, wanted to meet with me.

Q. And did you meet with him?

A. Well, I asked him on the phone if he was negotiable on those issues. He said absolutely not. You'll not tell me what to do. So I said, well, you'll not tell me what to do. I brought it to the people and asked if there was a desire to do something concrete and there certainly was.

Q. And did you relate to your parish in any way the disagreements you were having with Bishop Dupre?

A. Not specifically, only that this had to be done, a statement had to be made but I don't think I believe - I did not share with them the phone conversations I had with the bishop, no.

Q. So you went back to your parish, correct? Did you go to your parish council or how did you go to your parish?

A. No, we went to the parish congregation and then the congregation, the groundswell was complete. We lost two households who formally resigned from the parish because of the stand we took -

Q. And what was that stand, just to be specific?

A. The stand was pretty much - I have it on file if it's necessary. I've kept all these papers. It was I think a four-point thing which I've had a couple of attorneys go over, not Mary, a couple of attorneys that were parishioners of Saint Michael's to review before we made that statement the following weekend, and that was when I believe The Republican carried something.

Q. Do you know the gist of the stand that you took, what -

A. Well, I think I told you it was a two-prong concern -

Q. Right.

A. - that the man would be laicized and that he would no longer be supported by the church. And that in the meanwhile we would withhold a 6 percent taxation of the chair on the recurring income in East Longmeadow because there was a concern that that monies were going for those purposes. Q. Did you ever ask for any kind of information to show the Diocese funds were not used to support Richard Lavigne?

A. Well, for the first time in my 28-year history as a priest, later, about a month after we took the stand, in fact, I believe it was the end of June, for the first time bishop sent a cover letter and there was an explanation of the disbursement of the 6 percent taxation. I think there was 17 or 18 line items, you know, 8.1 percent here, 3.2 percent here, all adding up to a 100 percent. And he did mention in his cover letter to all the priests that this conclusively shows that not one cent of the 6 percent goes for these purposes.

But my point is the church has no money save from what it receives from people and the people did not contribute for these purposes.

Q. So other than that letter did you ever ask for any specific information or ever receive information with respect to how the Diocese pays Richard Lavigne at this point?

A. I don't understand that.

Q. You indicated that you received a letter that was sent out to all the parish priests how the money was broken down?

A. It was 6 percent was disbursed. Of course, if one wants to prove conclusively that not one cent would go, one would have to break down all of those 18 line items to the cent.

Q. Mm-hmm.

A. But -

Q. But did you ever ask anyone else or make any requests with respect to how Richard Lavigne is paid?

A. People's jobs could be in jeopardy. I know factually that the Diocese is paying for his full excellent medical and dental insurance. That's one of the things we had to hammer down before we could publicly say that but I hope no one loses their job over the fact that they shared that information with me.

Q. So these three events happened: One was the 1991 -

A. 1991, the Souza episode.

Q. - Souza episode?

A. The statement of February or March of 2002 and the article in - I believe it was March 2002.

And, furthermore, in November or December of 2002 at a Presbyteral Council meeting again I was, shall we say, out of the box. I was out of the clerical box. I was challenged out of it and, frankly, kicked out of it by the parents in East Longmeadow.

I was in the box in February or March. I went to East Longmeadow in May and once I challenged this I obviously set myself apart. So in November or December of 2002 at a Presbyteral Council meeting I asked the rhetorical question, "Is it true that prior to his retirement Bishop Weldon destroyed personal and personnel files?" I looked bishop right in the eye and bishop said to me, I would not know about that. And I said to him, "I find that peculiar. I find that more than peculiar that you as our bishop in this climate don't know when records begin or end, don't know where there are instances of the absence of records."

Q. Let's, because we're dealing with this topic now, let's go back to the February, March meeting of 2002 when statements were made. Where was that meeting held?

A. Down in that - across from the bishop's house, whatever they call it, Pastoral Center.

Q. And approximately how many other people were at that meeting?

A. I'd say a dozen.

Q. Were they all priests?

A. All priests.

Q. Any lay people?

A. Oh, no.

Q. Do you remember any of the topics of - other topics of discussion of that meeting?

A. Not as completely as that.

Q. Okay. And how did the topic of records arise at the meeting?

A. Well, he just shared it with us. And I know - Bishop Weldon ordained me and I had a couple interactions with Bishop Weldon because my first pastor died and the next man that came in got sick and had to retire so I was like an administrator for a while so - Bishop is a thorough man.
MR. CALLAN: What bishop?
THE WITNESS: Bishop Weldon.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) You knew him to be thorough?

A. Absolutely thorough. And, you know, he was, well, he was anal. I mean he would go - he would go to building sites under construction and check for the quality of the doors and he would have kept personal records with detail. He would have insisted that personnel files would be complete and he would have done it with scrupulosity. And so, therefore, when bishop said that - and I know I used the editorial word glee - he said it with happiness and relief and the man is usually dolor, so recollection of relief, glee, was not hard. And so - and to - to suggest - to suggest that he was talking about personal effects, as I said bric-a-brac, 20 years after a man is dead at that particular time in this particular church is inexcusable.
MR. CALLAN: I haven't heard what Bishop Dupre is supposed to have said yet.
MR. STOBIERSKI: That's going to be the next question.
THE WITNESS: Well, you've read the papers, sir.
MR. CALLAN: I haven't heard from your lips, sir.
MR. STOBIERSKI: Well, this is my deposition and -
MR. CALLAN: Yes, but he's talking in and around a lot of things without even stating what the statement was.
MR. STOBIERSKI: Let me ask the question.
MR. CALLAN: You should've asked it earlier.
MR. STOBIERSKI: It's my deposition. I can choose the order that I'd like to ask the questions.
MR. CALLAN: Well, he can't mumble and fumble around the edges something about coming out and saying what he heard and when he heard it.
MR. STOBIERSKI: He is not mumbling and fumbling, Attorney Callan. You're the one who is mumbling and fumbling. This is my deposition. I'm the one who is asking the questions. You're not to editorialize during the deposition.
MS. MCNALLY: So I'd suggest we put a question to the witness.
MR. STOBIERSKI: Yes.
MR. CALLAN: Let's go for it.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Father Scahill, why don't you tell me your recollection of what Bishop Dupre said at the meeting in February or March of 2002?

A. He said: "Fortunately for us, before his retirement Bishop Weldon destroyed many personal and personnel records."

Q. And how would you describe his demeanor when he said that?

A. He was very happy. He seemed happy, relieved.

Q. And in what context was he making such a statement?

A. In the context of the fact that several clerical abusive behaviors were becoming disclosed in the Archdiocese of Boston and indications were transparent that a cover-up was occurring as well.

Q. A cover-up was occurring as well where?

A. That priests were moved around, even with the knowledge that there had been issues of pedophilia or ephebophilia in their behavior.

Q. Was there general discussion at the council meeting on that topic?

A. No. There was no questions asked. There was no comments made. It was a statement shared with the guys and that's it.

Q. No one made any comment after that statement was made?

A. Oh, I'm sure that priests spoke to other priests as I spoke with Father Soranno and Father Murphy. And I shared this information with Sister Mary McGeer when we had our conversations in May of 2002. And I shared this information perhaps in July of 2002 with Mr. Warren Mason, who was one of the parents who came to me and stayed the course with me over all this time on this matter. So I did share it with them at the times that I've mentioned that bishop made this statement.

Q. And did you do anything about that statement at any time prior to the last month?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you do?

A. In November or December of 2002 I rhetorically asked that question man to man, eye to eye to Bishop Dupre. And the reason I did that - Q. Let me just ask you where you -

A. Yes. In that Pastoral Center at the Presbyteral Council meeting. Q. And what did you say to him?

A. I asked, "Is it true that prior to his retirement Bishop Weldon destroyed many personal and personnel records?" To which he said, "I wouldn't know about that." And I believe I've testified to this already. Q. All right.

A. The reason -
MS. MCNALLY: Wait for a question, Father.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Are you sure that in both the February, March of 2002 meeting and in the late 2002 meeting the words personal and personnel were used?
MR. CALLAN: Objection to form.
MS. MCNALLY: You can answer the question.
THE WITNESS: Pardon?
MS. MCNALLY: You can answer the question if you understand it.
THE WITNESS: Yes. It would be personal records that bishop kept and files of all of us priests would be personnel records.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Do you recall any instance at any other Presbyteral Council meeting of the effects of someone's estate ever being discussed?

A. Absolutely not.

Q. What type of matters are discussed at a Presbyteral Council meeting?

A. Matters relative to the Diocese, construction of buildings, issues of fund-raising, things like that.

Q. So it's not just a chat time for people to talk about -

A. Well, before or after the meeting there could be some chatting. There could be chatting that goes on at any meeting but again that stuff about what he did with his prayer books was never brought up at a Presbyteral Council meeting 20 years later.

Q. You understand that Bishop Dupre has made statements after you disclosed to the press what you heard that this had to do with Bishop Weldon's estate effects; is that correct?

A. Bishop Dupre has talked about the fact that he was talking about personal effects and that's what he stated. But, you see, this is killing me.

Q. How is it -

A. This is killing me, physically killing me. I didn't want to do what I had to do on the 17th or 16th of September of this very month. I did it because what I did in November and December of 2002 when I asked the rhetorical question, I was putting bishop on notice that I heard what I heard and I know what I know. And when I read Mr. Zajac's article, I believe Tuesday, September 16th, citing the paragraph wherein it was mentioned they knew nothing about Richard's proclivities until 1986 - He would have been 20 years a priest by then, having been ordained in '66 - and when I saw no mention in that article that, however, upon exploration in light of the climate we are in it's become apparent to us that records are missing or lost. They didn't even have to use the word destroyed. When I didn't see either of those in there I decided - I spoke to Mary McNally, I spoke to Father Soranno and I spoke to Sister Mary McGeer and I told them I had to say something. They wished - they felt I shouldn't, I had done enough, but I could not be part of the complicity of silence. And so I - Mr. - I think his name is Cullen - happened to have called me the day before from the Boston Globe. I have been in nowheres near amount of press or TV that I've been offered or extended. I've declined an awful lot. But Mr. Cullen called me I believe it was a Monday. He was going to be up here Tuesday to cover the Diocese's attempt to have the five dismissed and to cover Stobierski - to cover Mr. Stobierski's counterprotest with the victims and he wanted to meet me. I've never met the man before. He wanted to meet me. He just wanted to shake my hand and so I arranged to see him Tuesday afternoon at 3.

Q. Had you understood at that time that the Diocese had moved to dismiss the pre-'71 instances of abuse, did you know anything about that?

A. It was in the paper here.

Q. Okay. So that's what you are talking about, that article?

A. Yeah.

Q. And you didn't know anything about that before -

A. Well, it was evolving towards that.

Q. So you had then asked to speak to Kevin Cullen or Kevin Cullen called you and wanted to speak with you?

A. And I made a meeting for Tuesday afternoon. This was Monday afternoon. I read Tuesday morning's paper. I spoke to the three parties I've mentioned and I said to myself, well, Mr. Cullen is coming and I'm going to tell him what I know. I then called Mr. Zajac in fairness to the fact that he's been the local man with his eye on the ball and I arranged to see Mr. Zajac at 5 o'clock. And, frankly, I'll be forthright with you, I did that strategically.

Q. And why is that?

A. Because I knew the Chancery closed at 4:30 and I knew he, as a good reporter, would have to corroborate. But I knew then being after 6 that he would contact these people in their separate quarters. Mr. Zajac has in print, I believe it's the 17th of September -

Q. Now, are you aware that he contacted other people?

A. I read the Wednesday morning paper.

Q. And you read the account of Mr. Zajac, right?

A. Right.

Q. And he had contacted someone else, correct?

A. Well, he had contacted Monsignor Sniezyk apparently initially. And in the paper of September 17th, because I was not privy to the conversation Mr. Zajac and Monsignor Sniezyk had, but in the paper Mr. Zajac said that initially Monsignor Sniezyk acknowledged that bishop had talked about personal records and only later after apparently Mr. Zajac spoke to bishop they are moving towards personal effects. And I would go under oath to say that personal effects were never, ever discussed. I know I seem like - with all the priests lined up, yeah.

Q. Now, do you have anything at all to gain from coming forward and making these statements?
MR. CALLAN: Objection. You may answer.
MR. STOBIERSKI: I'll strike that question.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) What do you have to gain for coming forward and making these statements?
MR. CALLAN: Same objection.
MS. MCNALLY: You can answer the question, Father.
MR. CALLAN: Those objections are for the purpose of the record.
MS. MCNALLY: The objections are to the form of the question.
THE WITNESS: Okay. I always wanted to be a lawyer but I never went to school for it.
MR. CALLAN: Good decision.
MS. MCNALLY: I've told him the same thing.
THE WITNESS: Well, I have nothing to gain except the ability to live at peace with myself.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Do you believe your coming forward will enhance your career as a priest?
MR. CALLAN: Objection.
THE WITNESS: Absolutely not.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Will it affect your career whatsoever?
MR. CALLAN: Objection.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) In your opinion?

A. No, no. I don't think it - I'm a parish priest. I'll just continue my priestly work and the sooner I can only do that the better off I'll feel. I want this to go away.

Q. Now, you indicated that you didn't think you'd be elected again to the Presbyteral Council, correct, you previously testified to that?

A. Right, yes. I serve until December 2004.

Q. And why do you think you won't be elected again?

A. I'm out of the box.

Q. What do you mean "out of the box," when you say "out of the box" what do you mean by that?

A. I think we're all products of our condition. And I think we're conditioned in a brotherhood in a fraternity as clerics and once I decided to do after prayer and thought and listening what we did do in June of 2002, I knew it would be forever changed for me. And I've got priests that I used to socialize with for over 30 years who don't call me, don't talk to me. It's okay. I can - I'll tolerate that. But that's why I know. When I go to these presbyteral meetings do you think it's a walk in the park? You can cut the tension with a chain saw. I don't enjoy going to them but I go to them because I've not done anything wrong.

Q. Have you ever been threatened at all with your activities related to this clergy sex abuse scandal?

A. When Bishop Dupre and I met in July of 2002 Bishop Dupre told me, "You know, I can suspend you." And I told Bishop Dupre, "I know you can suspend me but so convinced am I of the correctness of what I am doing I am risking that suspension if you want to risk suspending me." In September of 2002 -

Q. Go ahead?

A. In September of 2002 at the convocation in Maine of the priests, I, after listening, stood up and asked that we would stop bashing the media, that it was supposed to be a spiritual twist to this because, I said, the media is not the personification of evil. I said, "I'm not in bed with the media but the media is accomplishing more on this matter than decades of bishops have." I then said, again in front of my priests, because it was the first time I was in the company of all the presbyterate after the June 2002 statement, I then said, "And I am not disobedient. There is no virtue to obedience that requires the surrender of virtue. There is no virtue to obedience that requires one to go myopically blind like the soldiers of Hitler."

Q. And was there a response to your statements?

A. Bishop told me I was disobedient. He told me that I had broken my oath of office as a pastor. He told me that I had cost this diocese thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars with the timing of my position because of the Stewardship Appeal was going on and because the Future of Hope pledge phase had not yet been completed. And he told me I went into East Longmeadow with an agenda. I rose at that time only to protest the final point of what he said because he and I had sat down physically at least twice and I explained to him I did not go to East Longmeadow with an agenda. I went there for a change. I went there for new challenges. The agenda came to me.

Q. Did you ever expect this kind ofagenda when you went to East Longmeadow?

A. Absolutely not.

Q. And you said you had another meeting with Bishop Dupre?

A. Yes.

Q. And what occurred at that meeting?

A. Bishop Dupre is not an evil man and I do not hate Bishop Dupre and Bishop Dupre does not I believe hate me. That being said, I went down to his house. I called him the Sunday after the convocation. I talked to his machine. His secretary called me back Monday and I said, I think it would good for bishop and I to meet. So I went down there in late September, this time I guess, last year. And because what bishop did up in Maine in front of all those priests was assault me, verbally assault me and he literally - he literally raped my character. And I went down because my father told me a long, long time ago, he said, "I got no money, I got no land I can give you - all I have is my name. I've been good to it. You be good to your name." And I have always tried to be good to my name and my name was just raked through the coals. And I went down to the bishop one-on-one and I took him on with the disobedience, the disloyalty, the agenda and the money. And when it came to the money I said to him, "I find it strange that you have never with your priests or publicly bemoaned the millions and millions of dollars that Lavigne and the others have cost this church, but you go after me because of a disagreement and because of a challenge that I've cost the Diocese money."

Q. And was there any response to that?

A. No. And there was no apology.

Q. Are those the only two meetings that you can recall that you had with Bishop Dupre regarding the stance you took at your parish?

A. Well, yes, in that meeting, too, in September, which I believe - and memory doesn't always serve any of us completely - I do believe that September meeting was the last personal meeting I had with Bishop Dupre. And at that meeting once again, as he did in June of 2002, in that meeting of September 2002 he threatened to suspend me. And I told him at that time, "Stop threatening me."

Q. I want to get back to the statement that the bishop made at the Presbyteral Council meeting, the one that begins with "Fortunately ..." What is your basis of knowledge for believing that that pertains to Richard Lavigne's records?

A. I would say again that the persona of Bishop Weldon was that he was extremely detailed. He would have had copious personal records and he would have had them relative to the murder investigation of one of his priests over the murder of Danny Croteau in '72. And he would have had them for any allegations of sexual abuse by Richard or anyone.

Q. Is that Bishop Weldon's general reputation throughout the Diocese?

A. I would say that Mr. Egan could testify to that.
MS. MCNALLY: He's not being deposed.
THE WITNESS: I know, but he certainly would be of a generation that would have recalled the persona of Christopher J. Weldon.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) It's important for legal purposes to understand what a person's reputation is and if that is Bishop Weldon's reputation in the Diocese, I'd like to get it on the record. If you don't know if that's his reputation, that's okay. I'm just trying to -

A. That is absolutely his reputation.

Q. And is it well-known throughout other priests?

A. All the priests - certainly priests he ordained, which are the majority because we don't have that many young, but certainly the priests that he ordained would hopefully recall.

Q. Now, earlier on in your testimony you provided a list of other priests, a nun and a layperson who you disclosed the content of this meeting to?

A. I believe - Yes.

Q. And since you have come forward with this information have you spoken to any one of them to determine whether they had a recollection?
MR. CALLAN: Since what date, Mr. Stobierski?

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) I think you said you came forward on September -

A. 17th.

Q. 17th?

A. 16th, 17th.

Q. In the month of September have you spoken to any one of those individuals regarding the fact that you made a statement?

A. I have spoken to Father Soranno. I have spoken with Sister Mary McGeer and I have spoken to Mr. Warren Mason. Father Murphy has been on vacation. He just returned.

Q. Do you know whether or not they have a recollection of you providing that information to them?

A. They have total recollection of me providing that information to them, though I hasten to add I would hope they do not have to be deposed.

Q. I understand. Have you spoken to any of the other priests who attended the Presbyteral Council meeting when that statement was made about their recollections?

A. I'm not talking with priests and priests aren't talking with me. MR. CALLAN: The answer is no?
MR. STOBIERSKI: I think the answer is on the record what he said.
MR. CALLAN: Well, he didn't answer that question so I object.
MR. STOBIERSKI: You can ask that question when it's your turn, Mr. Callan.
THE WITNESS: I have not.

(A brief recess was taken.)

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) Father Scahill, just a couple questions that I missed asking you before. Were minutes of the meetings of the Presbyteral Council kept?

A. Yes.

Q. Why don't you tell me the procedure by which the minutes are produced and approved, if you know?

A. Well, currently Father Decoteau takes minutes and they are given out, frankly, the day of the next meeting, which is another thing I've tried to correct because I think minutes should be given at least a week before the next meeting but that's how - that's the procedure.

Q. How would you characterize those minutes, are they verbatim transcripts of the meetings or are they cursory minutes, can you tell us -

A. They are certainly not verbatim transcripts.

Q. I kind of used either extreme so I'm trying to give you a sense of what I'm looking at. How would you characterize the minutes of the meetings?

A. Well, they would be relative to the issues that were formally discussed.

Q. Would it indicate that Priest A would make one comment and Priest B would make another and Priest C would make a third?

A. Sometimes they do; other times they just make the points without mentioning the priest.

Q. Now, have you reviewed the minutes for the meeting where the statement that Bishop Dupre made, whether it's in the minutes?

A. I didn't have to review them because I read the minutes whether it was in March or April and I read the minutes whether they were in December or January and did not find the statements in the minutes, nor did I suspect I would because they were not items of discussion. They were simply a statement that he made and a question I asked him and I certainly know in both instances that would not have been put in print.

Q. Did you make any efforts to try to have the minutes amended or any such thing?

A. I did not.

Q. One of the things that might have been a little confusing in your testimony, and it probably was caused because of additional questions asked, was that you indicated that you told two priests, a Father Seriano (sic) and Father Murphy of the statements, correct?

A. Father Soranno.

Q. Soranno, excuse me. And Father Murphy?

A. Father Murphy.

Q. Glad I got that one right.

A. And I cannot speak for Father Murphy because I've not had a chance to speak to him but I can only say that I've had conversations with the other three.

Q. How quickly after the February, March meeting when the statements were made did you tell these individuals?

A. I would have told them that very night.

Q. So it was immediately thereafter, it wasn't this last September? A. No, no.

Q. You've indicated that you are concerned that there's statements that there were records destroyed; is that correct?

A. Excuse me?

Q. You are concerned that records of the Diocese may have been destroyed by -

A. I wouldn't use the word "concerned."

Q. Well, how would you -

A. I simply am aware that the statement was said.

Q. Do you know as your experience as a priest how one could prove whether the records were destroyed or not?
MR. CALLAN: Objection.
THE WITNESS: I don't have - I have not had the opportunity to personally review records. I simply am reporting what was said and I simply am stating what is known, that bishop would have been thorough and the records would be complete.

Q. (By Mr. Stobierski) So how would one prove that the records were destroyed if they were?
MR. CALLAN: Objection.
THE WITNESS: Well, I can only make a suggestion. I might be wrong but I think I read somewhere recently in Mr. Zajac's coverage that there's a knowledge of - is there 691 pages in Father Lavigne's records or something? I don't know. Has that been - has that been disclosed, how many pages are in his records?

Q. I will answer that there has been a disclosure of pages in the record, so, yes.

A. Is it 691 or something like that?

Q. I think it's 699 but that's really -

A. Okay. Well, then I would suggest that that's not a complete record with his track record.

Q. Why would you suggest that's not a complete record?

A. That would just be a suggestion of mine because I can't prove that records would be destroyed.

Q. All right. So you have no other knowledge of how we can prove that records were destroyed?

A. No.
MR. STOBIERSKI: All right. I have no further questions.
MR. CALLAN: Thank you.


 
 

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