in Lawsuit Settled vs. Manchester Diocese
By Pat Grossmith
One man offered to help the young child with his schoolwork before he allegedly molested him. Another befriended a boy whose foster father had died, had the child move in with him, plied him with alcohol and then allegedly sexually assaulted him. These are among the allegations against priests found in the lawsuit settled on Thursday by 16 men who sued the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester and the Diocese of Manchester in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
Attorney Charles G. Douglas III of Concord said one condition in settling the lawsuit for $950,000 was that the diocese is to forward the names of the priests to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.
The Attorney General's Office is reviewing cases across the state to determine whether criminal charges should be brought.
The priests named in the lawsuit were the Rev. Philip Breton, the Rev. Hubert Mann, the Rev. Charles Authier, the Rev. Edmond Lemire, the Rev. Francis Talbot, the Rev. Gerald Joyal and the Rev. Donald Osgood.
Four are deceased: Breton in 1984, Mann in 1972, Authier in 1980 and Joyal in 1998 are deceased, according to Douglas and Patrick McGee, diocesan spokesman. The remaining four do not have ministries, McGee said.
Philip Breton was a priest who served at Assumption Parish and the Veterans Home in Tilton during the early 1980s until his death in 1984. Breton, according to the lawsuit, previously served as pastor at St. Alphonsus Church in Beverly, Mass., beginning in the early 1960s.
Breton, according to court records, sexually abused many parish children while a pastor at St. Alphonsus Church. The Boston Archdiocese received complaints concerning Breton's sexual molestation of parish children in the 1970s.
"When Breton moved to New Hampshire, the children of Assumption Parish became his prey," Douglas wrote. He said yesterday that he believes the case against Breton was the only one filed in New Hampshire.
Breton allegedly molested children in church quarters, his home, his car and a cabin he shared with another priest at Lake Winnisquam, according to court documents.
He was accused of molesting four of the 16 men in the late 1970s to early 1980s. All were altar boys.
John Doe #5, according to the lawsuit, served as an altar boy at Assumption Parish with the encouragement of his mother. When he was 11 or 12, Breton allegedly began abusing him, kissing him, stripping him and performing oral sex on the child.
The alleged assaults did not stop until the boy was 15 years old.
John Doe #6 was 10 or 11 in 1980 when Breton allegedly began molesting him.
The alleged abuse continued for two years on a weekly basis. Breton, according to court documents, told the child they were "friends" and that the incidents were "just between you and me."
John Doe #7 alleged Breton molested him on three occasions in the early 1980s when he was between the ages of 12 and 15.
John Doe #9, in court documents, accused the priest of molesting him when he was 11 or 12 years old.
It began, he alleged, when Breton was driving him in his car. The priest allegedly kissed the child, told him he was special, then hugged him and groped him.
The molestation intensified with the priest allegedly undressing himself and the boy, then touching the child and making him stroke him in return. The alleged sexual assaults occurred multiple times a week for about a year, according to the suit.
John Doe #8 said in court documents that Father Mann targeted him in the late 1960s, about the time that his foster father died. Mann, Douglas wrote, exploited the teenager by inviting him to reside with him at the rectory and sleep in his bed.
The allege abuse continued for 16 to 17 months and included the priest performing oral sex on the teenager.
Father Authier, Douglas wrote, exploited the child by visiting him in his room and elsewhere on the pretense of helping him with his homework and then performed oral sex on the child. That allegedly happened about 50 times.
Father Edmond Lemire: He was the parish priest at St. Edmond's Church in Manchester in the early 1960s when John Doe #12 was a parishioner. The priest developed a rapport with the child by telling him he shared his interest in magic and stamp collecting.
On a summer outing at Baboosic Lake in 1963, Lemire allegedly reached into the child's bathing suit as they were swimming and fondled him. He left New Hampshire in 1962 and served in the Diocese of Sherbrooke, Canada.
The child's age at the time is not given in the lawsuit nor is the year the alleged assaults occurred.
The remaining allegations are against priests already named in other lawsuits. They include the Rev. Leo Shea, who was convicted in 1994 of felonious sexual assault on a 14-year-old altar boy at the Immaculate Conception Church in Troy; the Rev. Francis Talbot, accused in at least three other lawsuits; and the Rev. Donald Osgood, who is accused in two other lawsuits,and who abandoned his ministry many years ago.
Shea was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in state prison and was paroled on Feb. 27, 1997.
The Rev. Leo Shea: Six of the 16 men accuse Shea of molesting them as children when he was assigned to St. Anthony's Church in Manchester in the 1970s, at Sacred Heart Church in Manchester from 1966-70, at a parish in Nashua in the early 1970s and at Immaculate Conception Church in Manchester in 1973-74. He has been out of the ministry since 1993.
The lawsuit alleged that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester and the Diocese of Manchester knew Shea was sexually molesting children but allowed him to continue to serve as a priest and transferred him from parish to parish.
In one case, Shea is accused of sexually molesting John Doe #1 in St. Anthony Church while the altar boy was preparing for another priest's funeral, in the presence of the open casket. Shea, according to court documents, instructed the child that the incidents of abuse needed to be "kept quiet."
In one case, Shea allegedly befriended a child parishioner in Nashua when his "mother was beginning to wither in the grip of lung cancer at the time," Douglas wrote.
According to a parish directory, Shea lives in Danbury, The Associated Press reported. He has not responded to efforts to reach him at home or through the diocese.
The Rev. Francis Talbot: John Doe #13 was a child who attended St. Augustine Church in Manchester when Talbot was there. Talbot allegedly took the child to a pool and forced the child to fondle him.Talbot is accused in at least three other lawsuits and was one of the 14 priests named in February by the Diocese as having his ministry revoked. He has not been in ministry since 2000, the church said.
Douglas represents Cody Goodwin of 122 Wilson St., Manchester, who filed a lawsuit alleging that Talbot sexually abused him for eight years. That case has not been settled.
The Rev. Donald Osgood: John Doe #14 accused Osgood of sexually molesting him on a weekly basis for four years, for a total of about 200 assaults. Osgood, the lawsuit alleges, targeted the child as prey when the priest was assigned to St. Augustine Church in Manchester.
There are at least two other individuals who have filed lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Osgood. He left ministry and his whereabouts have been unknown since 1968.
Staff reporter Kathryn Marchocki contributed to this report.
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