Ex-Lowell, Pepperell Priest Defrocked

By Robert Mills
Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA)
June 10, 2005

The Vatican has defrocked six priests accused of sexually abusing children, including a Lowell native who served at parishes in Lowell and Pepperell, the Archiocese of Boston announced yesterday.

Richard Matte grew up in Lowell's Centralville section and went to the former St. Louis de France parish there as a child, also attending the parish's parochial school, according to reports published in The Sun in 2002, when allegations against Matte were made public.

Matte was ordained at St. Louis de France in 1964, and returned to the parish to serve as a priest in 1988. He stayed until 1992, when accusations against him first surfaced, according to previous reports in The Sun.

The parish was recently closed as part of the consolidation of parishes across the archdiocese.

Matte also served at St. Joseph's Parish in Pepperell in the 1970s.

In 2002, Derek Mousseau of Lowell accused Matte of having abused him when Mousseau served as an altar boy at St. Louis de France in the years that Matte served there.

Mousseau filed a civil lawsuit against Matte and the archdiocese in 2002, but court records indicate that suit was dismissed in May 2003. Neither Mousseau nor his attorney, Roderick MacLeish Jr., could be reached for comment on why the suit was dismissed.

Matte also could not be reached for comment.

According to internal church documents released in 2002 and quoted in reports in The Sun, accusations against Matte date back to 1967. He was accused of abusing children at St. Joseph's in Pepperell; at parishes in Salem, Malden and Methuen; and at Xaverian High School in Westwood.

Among accusations included in the internal church documents were claims he raped a 13-year-old boy while serving at St. Joseph's in the 1970s. He also allegedly sexually abused his own nephew and four adopted and foster children under the care of a single family during his tenure in Pepperell. Further, he allegedly raped an altar boy in Pepperell, then told the boy he would "go straight to hell" if he told anyone," according to 2002 reports in The Sun.

According to internal church documents quoted by The Sun in 2002, allegations against Matte first surfaced in 1992, when a mother from the St. Louis de France parish wrote to the archiocese concerning his behavior around children.

Church officials sent Matte for a psychological assessment in 1992, and Cardinal Bernard Law recommended in 1993 that he find work outside the priesthood because he was no longer allowed to have contact with adolescent males.

Matte's brother-in-law, Gerald Hardy, declined to comment when contacted last night, as did a former parishioner who knew Matte from St. Louis de France.

Also defrocked by the archdiocese were John Connell, Denis Conte, Peter Frost, John Hanlon and Paul David White, it was announced yesterday. Each had been accused in incidents dating between the 1960s and 1980s.

Matte and the other men may no longer act as priests, except to offer absolution to the dying. They are no longer part of the archiocese, and are cut off from any financial support from the archdiocese, the archdiocese said in a statement.


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