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  Four Men Allege Sex Abuse at Camp Fatima

Manchester Union Leader
May 29, 2002

Four former campers at a Catholic boys summer camp in the Lakes Region said they were sexually abused there during the 1970s, one allegedly by the camp's former long-time director, their attorney said last week.

"It was obviously a potential haven for anyone who was a pedophile," Manchester attorney Peter E. Hutchins said of Camp Fatima, situated mostly in Barnstead and operated by the Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

Three alleged victims claim they were assaulted by Brother Guy Beaulieu, a math teacher at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua who also was on Camp Fatima's staff in the 1970s, according to Hutchins and a diocesan spokesman.

The fourth said the late Rev. Karl E. Dowd, who was director of diocesan camps from 1968 to 1990, tried to rape him inside the camp's chapel when he was about 9 years old, Hutchins said.

Dowd's alleged victim, a 39-year-old Manchester man, said the priest asked him to serve Mass during his first and only visit to the camp in the early 1970s, Hutchins said.

"Father Dowd told him he had to take all his clothes off" before donning the cassock and surplice, he continued.

"The kid didn't know any better. He had never been an altar boy before," Hutchins explained.

Dowd allegedly tried to digitally rape the boy, stopping when someone knocked on the chapel door, Hutchins said.

The alleged victim, whose name has not been released, identified Dowd from a group photo taken at the camp and has joined a class action suit Hutchins has filed against the diocese, Hutchins said.

Two other alleged victims also have joined that suit, claiming Beaulieu assaulted them at the camp in the 1970s, Hutchins said.

In addition, Kevin Dandley, 42, of Hudson, this month filed a separate civil suit against Beaulieu and Bishop Guertin High School.

Dandley alleges Beaulieu first began abusing him in 1973 at Camp Fatima and continued that fall when he began his freshman year at Bishop Guertin, the suit says.

Beaulieu allegedly enticed Dandley to his cabin after curfew with promises of watching television, and assaulted him there, Hutchins said.

Dowd, who was ordained in 1960 and retired from active ministry in 2000, was pastor of parishes in Nashua and Salem and also assisted at Manchester and Rollinsford churches.

The 67-year-old priest died while vacationing in Fort Pierce, Fla., on Feb. 18, three days after the diocese released the names of 14 priests accused of past sexual abuse.

Dowd's name was not on that list.

Diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee told The Union Leader last Thursday that the diocese had no complaints against Dowd.

But the diocese acknowledged over the weekend that it had received an allegation of sexual misconduct against Dowd in February. The alleged abuse involved a 16-year-old male and occurred in 1971 when Dowd was a priest at St. Bernard Church in Keene.

McGee yesterday said he was unaware of the allegation at the time.

He said there have been no allegations of sexual misconduct against Dowd or any other priest at Camp Fatima.

The state Attorney General's Office has received 50 reports of clerical sexual misconduct since February, Senior Assistant Attorney General E. William Delker said last week. Of these, "a few" involved alleged abuse at Camp Fatima and have been forwarded to the Belknap County Attorney's Office, he said.

Belknap County Attorney Lauren J. Noether would not comment on any cases her office is investigating.

Hutchins said his clients also recall being told to strip and go skinny dipping in Camp Fatima's lake, sometimes at night with car headlights trained on them.

"They all felt uncomfortable," he added.

Manchester attorney Mark A. Abramson last week said one of his clients also recalls arriving at the camp when he was about 12 years old in the 1970s and immediately being told to go swimming naked.

"There was a large number of brothers and there were priests who would all stand there and have all the boys strip," Abramson said.

But McGee yesterday said Dowd and the camp's chaplain were the only priests there during the regular camping season.

Beaulieu, who belongs to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart religious order, was a staff member who worked "on the financial end" during the 1970s, he added.

Beaulieu had a cabin on camp grounds, McGee said. There "was a cabin available" for Dowd as camp director, though "he wasn't living there on a regular basis," he added.

Abramson said he also has received about 10 anonymous calls from men who claim they either were sexually assaulted at Camp Fatima or know someone who was.

While callers provided him information, none were willing to go forward with civil suits, he said.

Some said they have "high-profile jobs" and are fearful going public would hurt their careers or families, he said.

Abramson said he has turned the information over to criminal investigators.

 
 

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