Mass. Bishop Named in Sex Case: Rape Allegations Vs. Springfield Prelate

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald [Springfield MA]
February 20, 2004

Two men brought the most serious charges to date against a member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in New England yesterday, claiming recently retired Springfield Bishop Thomas L. Dupre plied them with wine and cognac and raped them repeatedly throughout their teen years.

One of the unidentified accusers said he was going public because he was offended by Dupre's prominent advocacy against gay marriage in recent months.

"The level of anger and feelings of hypocrisy" pushed the victim, who is gay, to speak out, said attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr.

According to a statement released by the men through MacLeish's Greenberg Traurig law firm, Dupre had described their 1970s sexual encounters as part of long-term, loving relationships.

"Our clients grew up believing Bishop Dupre truly cared about them and loved them," MacLeish said.

Dupre resigned as bishop of Springfield Feb. 11 after the Springfield Republican newspaper confronted him with abuse allegations. Neither he nor his lawyer could be reached for comment yesterday.

Dupre had previously drawn criticism for his oversight of former priest Richard R. Lavigne, a confessed child molestor who was eyed as a suspect in the still-unsolved murder of an altar boy.

According to interviews and a three-page summary of the accusations made public last night, Dupre met one boy when the child was a newly arrived 12-year-old refugee from Southeast Asia. Dupre, then a local priest, told the boy he would teach him to read and proceeded to initiate a sexual relationship.

Dupre allegedly took the boy on a porn-buying trip to Connecticut and on other out-of-state excursions where they had sex, including a trip to Canada.

The second victim said he was a friend of the first and became involved with Dupre after the first victim showed him gay pornography.

The men allege Dupre sometimes engaged in sex acts with both of them at once.

The trysts eventually ended amicably, Dupre's accusers said, adding that when Dupre sought assurances they would never go public before he accepted appointment as an auxiliary bishop in 1990, they agreed.

But in recent months, they said, other people aware of the abuse began speaking about it. So to avoid confusion, they released last night's statement.

MacLeish said it's probably too late under Massachusetts law to bring criminal charges against Dupre - "that's one of the things that's so infuriating," the attorney said - but law enforcement officials in New Hampshire are "very interested" in the accusations.

Both men are receiving therapy paid for by the Diocese of Springfield. Mark DuPont, a spokesman for the diocese, said it was standard policy once charges are made.

"That shouldn't be read as an admission," he said.

DuPont said he and other diocesan officials are cooperating with a Hampden District Attorney's Office investigation. He said questions focused on the way the diocese handled reports alleging abuse by Dupre.

DuPont said no allegations were made prior to those presented to Dupre immediately before his resignation.

MacLeish said the two men have not decided whether to sue.


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