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  Priest in Abuse Suit Sold Condos before Claiming Bankruptcy

By Robin Washington
Boston Herald
February 22, 2002

A Worcester Diocese priest now running a language school in Mexico sold off property holdings to a monsignor and a longtime companion shortly before being named in two child molestation suits and filing bankruptcy, real estate records show.

The Rev. Thomas A. Kane, who ran the now-defunct House of Affirmation for troubled priests in Whitinsville before being sued himself for child molestation in 1993, sold property in Florida and the Back Bay in transactions recorded in 1992 and 1994, records show.

The revelations about Kane, to whom church officials have acknowledged sending regular payment, follow the diocese's removal Wednesday of the Rev. John J. Bagley from St. Mary's in Grafton and criticism of its support for the Rev. Peter Inzerillo of St. Leo's in Leominster, despite at least two allegations of sexual misconduct.

The diocese is also struggling to decide how it will comply with a request by Worcester County District Attorney John Conte for the names of all priests accused of sexual misconduct, and their alleged victims.

"There still is discussion as to the specifics of what he's looking for," diocese spokesman Ray Delisle said yesterday, adding that church lawyers are asking the DA for a "clarification."

Of Kane, Delisle said the payments, labeled a "benefice" and intended for indigent priests, would be suspended.

"At this stage, because of what's been uncovered, the bishop is asking for qualification as for the need for this benefice," he said.

Kane did not respond to e-mail requests for an interview from his home in Guadalajara, Mexico.

According to a real estate transaction dated May 18, 1992, Kane sold an Oakland Park, Fla., condo previously valued at $ 30,200 to Monsignor Brendan Riordan, of Long Island, N.Y., for $ 18,000.

A second record shows Kane's sale of a Back Bay condo on Dartmouth Street to longtime business associate and roommate Babak Bagheral for $ 70,000 on Jan. 21, 1994, six months before Kane initiated bankruptcy proceedings in which he listed Bagheral as a creditor.

Neither Bagheral, who now runs the Boston branch of Kane's Worldwide Teachers Development Institute, nor Riordan, pastor of St. Aloysius in Great Neck, N. Y., could be reached for comment on the sales, which multiple sources called the tip of the iceberg in the suspended priest's attempts to hide millions in property holdings.

A Westboro priest critical of the church's handling of sex abusers in its ranks called the Kane saga another sad chapter in the troubled diocese.

"It doesn't surprise me," said the Rev. Steven M. LaBaire of St. Luke the Evangelist Church, who in 1996 gave a deposition about a sex abuse charge by an adult against Inzerillo that he said the diocese failed to act upon.

"There was no follow-up at all. It was very clear that they didn't want to have anything to with it," he said of the deposition, in which he said the diocese's lawyer was so hostile that a judge barred him from further participating in the case.

The accusation, the second one against Inzerillo, followed a suit filed in 1994 by Edward Gagne of Spencer claiming that he was sexually abused by the priest when he was sent to him to talk about entering the seminary.

Gagne also claimed the Rev. Brendan O'Donoghue, then pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary in Spencer, molested him as a minor six years earlier.

Gagne, who settled the suit for $ 300,000 in 1999, signed a confidentiality agreement but said yesterday he cannot in good conscience remain silent about the case.

"I was told that this is a standard practice with these cases, especially when there's a settlement involved. Yet it makes it almost impossible to come back in the future and say, 'Wait a minute. I discovered there's another crime here,' " he said.

Delisle said there is nothing to prevent alleged victims who settle from filing criminal charges, however.

"We make people aware of their right to take these cases to the authorities. We would cooperate fully with the DA's office if they want to go to them," he said.

But, he added, "A lot of victims do not want to pursue this and don't want their names out there."

Though Delisle said O'Donoghue is no longer in active service with "no priestly duties whatever," he said the diocese is satisfied with keeping Inzerillo at the Leominster parish.

"He is still a priest of the diocese and was reassigned to a parish because there was no finding against him," he said.

Bagley, the Grafton pastor and a former Vatican official, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday after Worcester Bishop Daniel P. Reilly learned of an allegation against him of sexual misconduct with a minor in 1967, Delisle said.

LaBaire questioned the inconsistency of diocese officials who would remove one priest from service but retain another one similarly accused.

"There are so many of these cases. You have to ask yourself could this have had a different outcome if it had been dealt with forthrightly years ago," he said.

"There are abusers in every profession but what is very troubling is that the church has couched this, hid it and covered up for the sake of appearances. This is a sad day of reckoning."

[Robin Washington may be reached at rwashington@bostonherald.com]

 
 

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