Man Who Claims Abuse by Bishop to Meet with Diocese Official

By Adam Gorlick
Telegram & Gazette [Springfield MA]
February 26, 2004

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.- An official from the Springfield Diocese is planning to meet with one of the two men who say they were abused by retired Bishop Thomas Dupre, a spokesman for the diocese said Thursday.

Mark Dupont said Laura Failla Reilly, the diocese's victim advocate, plans to meet with the man "in the next day or so," but would not provide more details. He said Reilly wants to meet with both men, but has so far been in touch with only one of them.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., who represents the men who say Dupre molested them while he was a parish priest in the 1970s, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The information Reilly gets from the meeting will be forwarded to the Vatican, where officials will determine how to handle the allegations against Dupre.

"The sole church authority presently empowered to handle allegations against a bishop is the Holy See," Monsignor Richard Sniezyk wrote in a statement issued by the diocese Thursday.

Sniezyk is running the daily operations of the diocese until the Vatican appoints a new bishop. Dupre stepped down earlier this month citing health reasons. But his resignation was approved by the Vatican a day after The Republican newspaper of Springfield presented the bishop with the abuse allegations.

Sniezyk said any information the diocese receives about the abuse allegations will be forwarded to the Vatican, the Boston Archdiocese and Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett.

After meeting with Bennett on Tuesday, one of the alleged victims said he supports a criminal investigation.

Bennett has not said whether he'll be able to press charges against Dupre, and has noted that the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases is generally 10 to 15 years.

The two men say Dupre began molesting them in the 1970s, and the abuse stretched into the early 1980s.

MacLeish has said there is a substantial amount of corroborating information that shows Dupre had some sort of relationship with his clients, including telephone records and credit card receipts.

He has not said whether his clients will sue Dupre or the diocese.

Michael Jennings, Dupre's lawyer, refused to comment Thursday.