Lawyers in Abuse Case Want Priest Removed
By Robin Washington
June 26, 2002
Lawyers representing an alleged molestation victim yesterday demanded a priest who once served as a chaplain at Matignon and Bishop Fenwick high schools be removed from a Billerica parish.
The Rev. W. James Nyhan, now of St. Mary's in Billerica, allegedly molested 38-year-old Dennis LaCort at Dorchester's St. Ambrose Parish in 1974 when the Quincy man was 10, said attorney Robert Sherman.
"The issue is that this priest is still serving as a pastor," Sherman said, detailing the alleged abuse as including oral sex. "What (LaCort) is interested in is seeing that he is removed from a position with access to children."
Sherman said LaCort, who has not filed suit, came to him and law partner Roderick MacLeish Jr. in the past 10 days after being told by prosecutors that the case was beyond the statute of limitations.
The lawyers then found Nyhan had been the subject of investigation by the archdiocese's sexual misconduct review board in 1994 and 1997, Sherman said.
But archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said the accusation brought to the review board had been recanted.
Of the new allegation, she said, "At this time we do not have adequate information to meet the criteria to report this (new) allegation to the proper authorities."
Nonetheless, she said the archdiocese is reaching out to the accuser as well as parishioners at St. Mary's to "provide whatever support we can during this difficult time."
Until March, the parish was also the home of retired priest John White, a longtime friend of the Rev. Paul Shanley, who is in Middlesex jail awaiting arraignment this week on 16 counts of child rape.
Just before Easter, both Shanley and White traveled to Thailand, where White likely remains. "His time of return is not known," Nyhan told the Herald then.
Lynda Blutreich, a Bishop Fenwick graduate now living in North Carolina, said of Nyhan, "I only have the nicest possible things to say about the guy. I have been on trips with him and he's just the kindest, most awesome person."
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