|Court Allows Sex Abuse Charges in St. Columbkille's Case
By Jessica M. Smith
February 28, 2008
Allston-Brighton - A former Brighton man who alleges that he was abused by three St. Columbkille's priests won an intermediate judicial victory in Superior Court.
The victim, who spent his childhood in Brighton, told the court that he was sexually abused by two priests in the rectory of St. Columbkille's Parish and by a third priest outside Brighton.
The accused clergy, named as defendants in court documents, are Father Eugene Sullivan and Father Edward T. Kelly. Sullivan and Kelly were seeking a summary judgment, which is when a judge decides the case before it goes to trial.
In this case, the accused priests claimed that the statute of limitations, or time period in which a complaint could be filed, had expired. But Justice David A. McLaughlin disagreed with the priests and denied the motion. The third priest, according to the victim's attorney, "passed away years ago."
According to the now 45-year-old victim, Kelly, who was assigned to St. Columbkille's in 1975, invited him to his room in the rectory in the spring of 1976 to drink and smoke marijuana. But in addition to drinking and smoking, Kelly is accused of exposing himself to the plaintiff and touching his private parts through his clothes.
Then, in late August 1976, Sullivan allegedly gave the plaintiff a ride to a camp in New Hampshire. In the car, the victim alleged, Sullivan "reached across the front passenger seat and masturbated the plaintiff, causing the plaintiff to ejaculate" while they were driving on Route 93. At the time of the alleged incident, Sullivan was superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Boston and reportedly told the victim, "What happened in the car stayed in the car."
For years, the victim said he denied that he was abused. According to the law, the statute of limitations for assault and battery alleging sexual abuse of a minor is three years. Furthermore, the three-year period begins when a plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that an emotional or psychological injury was caused by a defendant's behavior.
The victim in this case, according to court documents, has suffered from anxiety, depression and has abused drugs and alcohol. However, he said that he only recently realized that his problems were caused by the alleged abuse. His attorney therefore argued that the three-year statute of limitations did not start until that time, which was around 2004. McLaughlin agreed.
McLaughlin also ruled that the supervisors of the accused, Father Joseph P Smyth and Most Rev. Thomas V. Daily, who were accused of negligence, were entitled to a partial summary judgment because "there is no evidence to warrant a finding of negligence on the part of either of those defendants."
The Superior Court issued the recently released judgment last month.
Jessica Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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