Sixth Man Claims Molestation As Teen by Methuen Priest
By David Weber
July 4, 1996
A 38-year-old man came forward yesterday and charged a former Methuen priest with sexually preying on him 23 years ago on the day he learned of his stepbrother's death.
The man joined five others who are accusing the Rev. Ross Frey of taking advantage of them sexually between 1973 and 1984 while they were vulnerable due to various personal and family crises.
"What he did was monstrous and should have been stopped," said attorney Richard Fleming of Andover, who is seeking $ 25 million from the church for each of the alleged victims.
Frey was a priest at St. Basil's Salvatorian Center in Methuen from the early 1970s until late last year, when he moved to Saida, Lebanon, to study languages, Fleming said.
Frey could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he denied the charges to WHDH-TV, which first aired the report about the original five men who claimed they were victimized by Frey.
Fleming said the newest alleged victim's mother saw the TV report and contacted him.
"She said her son was on a weekend retreat with Father Ross (Frey) when his stepbrother was killed in an accident (in 1973). She contacted Father Ross and asked him to break the news to him. It was after that that he molested him," Fleming said.
He said the teen-agers, including two brothers, ranged in age from 14 to 18 at the time of the alleged attacks. All of them were going through some sort of crisis, such as the divorce of parents or a death in the family.
On each occasion, Frey began the molestation by persuading the teens to submit to a back rub and then convinced them to remove additional items of clothing, ultimately leading to the fondling of their genitals, according to a letter sent by Fleming to the church demanding the multi-million dollar compensation.
One of the victims said Frey performed oral sex on him and tried to persuade the boy to reciprocate.
When one of the teens told another St. Basil's priest, the Rev. Martin Hyatt, about Frey's behavior, Hyatt responded, "That will teach you not to take your pants down for anybody," according to the demand letter.
Hyatt's brother, Greg, ran for governor in 1986 and was a rising star in the Republican party until a secretary charged that he twice appeared naked in his office.
Hyatt's father, Lawrence attorney Wilbur A. Hyatt, is representing St. Basil's Church in this matter, but could not be reached for comment last night.
St. Basil's is a member of the Melkite Diocese of Newton and is part of the Roman Catholic Church.
Melkite Bishop John Elya issued a statement which read in part: "Recent allegations of sexual misconduct made by unnamed parties against Father Ross Frey have greatly saddened the clergy and staff at St. Basil's given their years of service and ministry to the teen-age population of this area."
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