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  Priest Loses Court Battle

By Jeff Haynes
Woonsocket Call [Millville MA]
June 12, 2003

MILLVILLE -- The St. Augustine parish priest accused of sexually abusing a boy lost a court battle last week when a judge ordered the release of parts of a psychological evaluation of the priest.

Worcester Superior Court Justice Jeffrey A. Locke ordered that parts of a 10-page evaluation -- the parts Locke deemed relevant -- be made part of the case file in Worcester resident Timothy Staney's civil suit against the Rev. Jean-Paul Gagnon. Staney also has named the Diocese of Worcester and religious educator Richard Tremblay as defendants.

Staney alleges that the abuse began at Worcester's Holy Name of Jesus parish in 1980, when he was 10, and lasted until he was 17. The abuse began with Tremblay and later continued with Gagnon, who were both working at the Holy Name of Jesus parish at the time, according to the suit.

Gagnon, Tremblay and the diocese have all denied Staney's allegations.

In his order to release the evaluation of Gagnon dated August 1981, Locke wrote that there are "several references to the defendant's psycho-sexual development that are arguably relevant to the case insofar as they were noted in 1981, four years before the sexual activities (involving Gagnon) began as alleged in the complaint, and resulted in a recommendation for further counseling."

Locke also noted: "there is no indication that such counseling occurred between 1981 and 1984."

The psychological evaluation was initially used for assessing Gagnon as a candidate for priesthood. It was conducted at the Whitinsville House of Affirmation, which Locke describes as "an apparent mental health facility serving Catholic religious personnel."

The report, signed by psychologist Vincent M. Bilotta, states Gagnon "gives evidence of an extremely passive and submissive orientation with feelings of weakness and inferiority as well as marked conflict in the area of sexual identity."

"There is evidence of feelings of inadequacy and emptiness together with a great deal of sexual anxiety and preoccupation," the report continues. "A marked immaturity in the area of sexuality and feelings of masculine inadequacy are present."

The report also states Gagnon "would do well to seek professional counseling in order to gain better insight into his feelings and emotions, to gain a greater sense of personal adequacy and self-confidence, and to develop a more positive and mature sexual identity."

In the original complaint filed by Staney in September 2002, Staney argued that the Worcester Diocese "engaged in a civil conspiracy" with Gagnon and Tremblay, and this conspiracy "was entered into with the express intent to violate civil or criminal law, including but not limited to sexual assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and accessory to felony both before and after the fact."

In line with that argument, Staney and his attorney Daniel Shea have requested from the diocese any documents referencing accusations of sexual abuse by Gagnon, as well as copies of correspondence between the diocese and Gagnon regarding Staney's allegations.

Responding for the diocese, Stoneham-based attorney Joanne L. Goulka rejected the request, stating that it "calls for documents which are irrelevant, not reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence, is over broad, unduly burdensome, is intended to be oppressive, embarrassing or annoying."

Goulka did say, however, that the diocese would consider releasing documents regarding an allegation that Gagnon had "sexual contact" with a man in his 20s while Gagnon was at St. Augustine Parish.

 
 

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