DA Probes Abuse Allegations against Springfield Bishop

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald [Springfield MA]
February 13, 2004

The Hampden district attorney is probing sexual abuse accusations made against Bishop Thomas Dupre - who resigned his post this week - months after Attorney General Thomas Reilly was informed of the allegations.

Monsignor Richard Sniezyk, who is running theDiocese of Springfield daily operations, yesterday said he gave prosecutors the names of the men who were allegedly abused in the 1970s as young boys when Dupre was a parish priest. He also said he will issue a report on the situation to Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley.

"We are going to review all the information," District Attorney William Bennett said. "We have to determine the truth of the allegations. If they're true, we have to decide whether they're criminal, and if so, whether they can be prosecuted."

The Rev. James J. Scahill of East Longmeadow, whose St. Michael parish is in the second year of withholding contributions to the diocese, said he briefed Reilly on the accusations, but was told the age of the alleged victims prevented criminal prosecution of Dupre without their consent.

Ann Donlan, a spokeswoman for Reilly, confirmed the attorney general met with Scahill.

"The identity of the victim was not passed on," Donlan said. "The attorney general made it clear that the matter would be referred to the district attorney's office if the victim came forward."

The Archdiocese of Boston acknowledged yesterday that the priest might have called last fall to pass on molestation allegations against the Springfield bishop.

But the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne said anyone with serious allegations should have made more than one phone call - especially to a line that receives numerous "crank calls."

Scahill said he tried to reach O'Malley after talking to the alleged victims' families.

"I said to (the receptionist): `This is a very urgent, a very dire circumstance. This concerns the health of the church here in Springfield,' " Scahill said.

His call was not returned, he said.

Scahill released a copy of a telephone bill that lists a two-minute call to the archbishop's residence in Brighton Nov. 14. Moreover, a parishioner, Warren Mason, said he was one of several people in Scahill's office when the priest left the message.

Dupre resigned this week for what aides said were health reasons, a day after the Springfield Republican newspaper confronted Dupre with allegations of abuse.


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