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  Four Intend to Settle Franklin Church Abuse Claims

By Emelie Rutherford
Milford Daily News
September 11, 2003

FRANKLIN -- Four of seven alleged victims of former St. Mary's priest Anthony Buchette will tap into the Boston Archdiocese's proposed $85 million settlement, according to their lawyer William T. Kennedy.

"They will be participating in it and hopefully taking advantage of some of the other parts of the settlement, which is counseling," said Kennedy, who works in Quincy.

"It's a great wrong that was done to them but I think they're very appreciative of the settlement offer that gives them some closure," Kennedy added. "They certainly wanted to be on record as having presented the claim and keeping it from ever happening in the future."

Three of the alleged victims cannot participate in the settlement, Kennedy said, because they had not filed formal claim papers with the archdiocese before a July 30 deadline for the settlement.

"We should hope in the future something should be done for those (three) individuals," Kennedy said.

Kennedy confirmed yesterday for the first time that he now represents seven unidentified men, whose ages range from 41 to 49, who allege the now-retired Buchette molested them when they were adolescents in Franklin in the 1970s.

Kennedy filed suit on behalf of two of those men in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on May 30. After newspaper articles about the lawsuit were published, Kennedy said, four more alleged victims came forward.

"What they wanted to do, as they wrestled with their consciences, was to step forward and make sure no child is abused in the future," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the alleged victims grew up in Franklin and graduated from high school, in town and elsewhere, between 1972 and 1980.

All but one of them, he said, is married with children. Several still live in Franklin.

"There are professionals, educators and there are people who had not made out as well, are disabled," Kennedy said about his clients. "They run the gamut of society in terms of economics."

Buchette, 72, served at St. Mary's from the late-'60s to mid-'70s.

Several members of the parish have said they support Buchette, who they remember as a kind young priest with neither the time nor proclivity to repeatedly rape the young boys, as the suit file in May alleges.

When asked in June if he abused the men, Buchette said he "can't remember."

Buchette declined to comment when contacted yesterday at his home in Lynn.

Kennedy said his clients allege Buchette lured them with collectables and trophies before fondling and raping them in the rectory, in the church, in Buchette's car and in hotel rooms in the 1970s.

"Father Buchette would befriend young boys between the age of 12 and 15," Kennedy said. "When they go to the ninth grade he would terminate his involvement."

Kennedy said they told vivid tales of abuse.

"One of them describes how they had a dying parent and Father Buchette came over and prayed the rosary and later was molesting this child, who was 13 years old, in the rectory," Kennedy said.

The lawsuit named as defendants Buchette, the archbishop of Boston and Bishop John McCormack, a former personnel manager in the Boston archdiocese.

The archdiocese offered an $85 million settlement on Tuesday to 552 alleged victims of clergy abuse who have filed civil suits against it. The settlement will be approved only if 80 percent of the alleged victims agree to it.

Individuals stand to collect $80,000 to $300,000, Kennedy said. A mediator will determine the award amounts based on the number of people who participate as well as the type of abuse, duration of abuse and the injury sustained.

 
 

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