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  Past Franklin Priest Accused of Sex Abuse

By Emelie Rutherford
Milford Daily News
June 2, 2003

FRANKLIN -- Former St. Mary's priest Anthony Buchette lashed out yesterday at the attorney representing two former parishioners who are suing him for sexually abusing them three decades ago.

Quincy attorney William T. Kennedy filed suit on behalf of two unidentified men, one of whom still lives in Franklin, in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Friday.

"They're shysters," Buchette, 72, said referring to Kennedy and other attorneys of alleged priest abuse victims.

"I'm over 70 and I'm trying to live a peaceful life and they're trying to get everything I've got," Buchette said shortly after 5 p.m. when the Daily News reached him at home in Lynn.

Buchette served at St. Mary's Church from the late-1960s to the mid-1970s, when the alleged victims were adolescents, Kennedy said. Kennedy said his clients' complaints "go from fondling to rape."

"Buchette would take it upon himself to befriend these young boys in the sixth to eighth grades," Kennedy said. "Not any older, not any girls. He would take them out for sodas and treats and would basically lure them -- at least these two clients -- up to the rectory."

The alleged victims also claim abuse occurred in the church, in Buchette's car and in hotels in and out of state, according to Kennedy.

Buchette, now retired, said he "can't remember" if he harmed the two alleged victims.

"You're not going to get something out of me that I don't remember," he said. "These things happened 30 years ago. My religion calls for, no matter what happens, forgiveness."

Kennedy said his clients were between the ages of 11 and 13 when the alleged abuse occurred. One plaintiff alleges Buchette sexually abused him more than 100 times in 1974 and 1975. The other said the former priest abused him more than 20 times over three months in 1975. The priest allegedly lured the boys with collectables and trophies, Kennedy said.

Buchette, who was assigned to churches in Roxbury and Dorchester after leaving Franklin, said he will take legal action against Kennedy for sending information about the lawsuit to newspapers.

"He's going to be picked up by my lawyer," Buchette said. "These are only allegations."

Buchette is the third priest connected to Franklin accused of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. D. George Spagnolia, a priest at St. Mary's from 1994 to 1998, was removed from St. Patrick's Church in Lowell in February 2002 by the Archdiocese of Boston amid sexual abuse allegations. The same month, the archdiocese removed the Rev. Joseph L. Welsh, pastor of St. Mary's from 1989 to the mid-1990s, from Nicholas Church in Abington after similar charges arose.

Longtime St. Mary's parishioner Robert Catalano said the parish has not had a strong reaction to the charges against the priests.

"I haven't heard much talk about it," he said.

Catalano said he never heard about Buchette befriending young boys.

"I knew him and I never knew anything of that nature about him," Catalano said. "Father Buchette to me was a nice young priest when he was here."

The Rev. David Goodrow, a parochial vicar at St. Mary's, called the news about Buchette "disturbing."

"If it is true, helping the victims is obviously the first recourse," he said yesterday. "Priests come and go, but the church is the people's church."

The complaint against Buchette contains charges of sexual assault and battery, intentional and or reckless infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breech of fiduciary duty.

The complaint also claims Buchette misrepresented his finances -- a charge Kennedy said grew out of a settlement Buchette reached with a third alleged victim who sued the former priest in 2002.

The third alleged victim, Kennedy said, claims Buchette harmed him in Franklin when he was 16 years old. They settled out of court.

Yet Kennedy claims that after settlement, Buchette transferred his interest in three Lynn properties to family members to conceal his assets from creditors.

Thus, Kennedy said the first depositions in the case will be of relatives of Buchette who may know about his finances.

The lawsuit also named the archbishop of Boston and Bishop John McCormack as defendants.

"It's very disturbing to think that someone in such a position of authority could hurt someone like that," said St. Mary's Goodrow. "Human beings sometimes do terrible things."

 
 

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