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  18 Priests Named in Settlement

By Bill Zajac wzajac@repub.com
Springfield Republican
August 17, 2004

SPRINGFIELD, MA - The 45 people who agreed to a settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield after alleging clergy sex abuse had made claims against 18 priests, including three who previously had not been publicly identified as facing accusations.

The Revs. Paul T. Boudreau, Eugene Dranka and Thomas F. O'Malley were listed among the 18 priests who had allegations made against them. Dranka and O'Malley are deceased. Boudreau has denied any wrongdoing.

The names of the 18 were released recently by Greenfield lawyer John J. Stobierski, who represents the 45 people who Aug. 5 agreed to settle their claims for about $7.5 million. Twenty or so other claimants represented by other lawyers are awaiting word from the diocese on the method in which their claims may be settled.

Although the diocese refused to comment about the 18 priests and whether previous allegations have been made against them, Stobierski said identifying accused priests is consistent with the policy U.S. bishops established in Dallas two years ago.

"The Dallas norms set forth the fact that these settlements will not be done in secret any longer. To that end, my clients want the names of priests who allegedly abused them made public," Stobierski said.

Stobierski said the naming of the priests adds closure for the claimants.

"To the survivors, each one of these people sat in silence for years believing they were the only one molested and that it was their fault. Each survivors desires to have the name of their abuser made public to give assurance and comfort to other victims who are still suffering in silence," Stobierski said.

The 14 others who were accused of sexual abuse by the 45 claimants are Richard R. Lavigne and Ronald Malboeuf, who have both been defrocked, and the Revs. John J. Bonzagni, John Corbin, Donald V. Dube, Clarence Forand, Alfred Graves, E. Karl Huller, Roy Jenness, Edward M. Kennedy, John A. Koonz, Francis P. Lavelle, Richard F. Meehan and David Welch.

The men, except for Welch, have been identified after having been named in civil suits or by a diocese report that there are credible allegations against them. Welch was named in a complaint filed with the diocese.

Lavigne, who pleaded guilty to molestation charges in 1992, is the only one of the 18 priests who has been criminally charged.

The name of one person is being withheld pending a clarification between the diocese and Stobierski.

Dranka, who had two allegations made against him, and O'Malley are both deceased. Boudreau, who abandoned the priesthood several decades ago, lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Boudreau, contacted several months ago, denied the allegation of abuse. A Springfield native, Boudreau was ordained in 1955 and served in Easthampton, Springfield, Pittsfield and Westfield.

Dranka, a native of Three Rivers and a member of the LaSallette Order, served in parishes in Westfield and Bondsville as well as LaSallette settings in Texas and New Hampshire. He died at age 66 in 1974.

O'Malley served in parishes in Palmer's Thorndike section, Shelburne Falls, Holyoke, Springfield, Worcester and North Adams. O'Malley, a Clinton native, was ordained in 1930 and died at age 84 in 1985.

Bonzagni is the only priest of the 18 who remains in ministry. He is assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Lenoxdale. He previously denied a woman's allegation that he had abused her.

Dube, who was removed from ministry by the diocese in the 1990s because of at least one credible allegation of sexual abuse, died last year.

Graves, Kennedy, Koonz, Lavelle and Meehan were removed from ministry by the diocese because of credible accusations of sexual abuse, according to diocesan officials.

Malboeuf was defrocked in 1989. Corbin, Huller and Jenness were accused of sexually abusing minors in lawsuits filed against the diocese.

Welch and Forand were accused of being abusers by their alleged victims in news reports. The diocese acknowledged that a credible accusation was made against Forand.

 
 

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