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  Deberardinis, Franciscan Brother Charged with Sex Assaults on Eight Children, Pleads Guilty

Suffolk County District Attorney's Office
May 26, 2004

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced that- FIDELIS DeBERARDINIS, 76 (D.O.B. 7/10/27), the Franciscan brother charged with the sexual abuse of eight altar boys at an East Boston church in the late 1960s and early 1970s, pled guilty yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court. DeBerardinis was sentenced to eight years in state prison, to be followed by 10 years' probation.

As conditions of his probation, DeBerardinis can have no unsupervised contact with children under 16, submit to sex offender treatment, register as a sex offender, and provide a DNA sample, Conley said. DeBerardinis was immediately taken into custody at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute-Cedar Junction.

DeBerardinis' guilty plea came on the heels of a ruling by Justice Peter Lauriat that the defendant was competent to stand trial. At that competency hearing held late last week, the Commonwealth called a single expert witness, who testified that in her opinion, DeBerardinis was capable of understanding the judicial process and aiding in his own defense. The court agreed with that assessment despite contrary opinions of several defense experts.

DeBerardinis, who supervised the altar boys at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, pled guilty to 10 counts of unnatural and lascivious acts with a child under 16 and seven counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. The charges reflect his sexual abuse of eight altar servers ranging in age from 8-13 between 1968-73. The alleged sexual assaults occurred at various locations in the church, including the sacristy and a downstairs altar area.

The Commonwealth was prepared to present to a jury evidence supporting the allegations had the case gone to trial.

"The strong evidence developed by our office and the Boston Police Department allowed us to hold this man accountable for the physical and emotional harm he inflicted on children to whom he served as an authority figure," Conley said. "Our hope is that this result brings some comfort to the victims as they continue their healing process."

Conley's office was able to indict DeBerardinis in 2002 for crimes that had occurred three decades earlier because the defendant had been assigned outside Massachusetts since 1973. The statute of limitations on the alleged crimes was tolled when he left the state.

Conley praised members of his office's Family Protection and Sexual Assault Unit, including Assistant District Attorneys David Deakin, the unit chief, Glenn Cunha, the unit's deputy chief, and Audrey Mark, the case prosecutor, as well as the Boston police, for their work on the DeBerardinis case.

 
 

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