|$30m Suit Claims Rape by Priest Caused HIV
By Karen Dandurant
March 28, 2008
PORTSMOUTH — A former Seacoast man filed a civil lawsuit against Father John McCormack and the Diocese of Manchester alleging their negligence resulted in his rape by a priest who has since died from AIDS.
Key West, Fla., resident Daniel Brown, 47, who said he is HIV positive, filed suit March 18 in Hillsborough County Superior Court asking for $30 million due to emotional, physical, physiological and financial damages, as well as the loss of enjoyment of life. He said he believes his medical status is a direct result of an assault when he was 16 years old.
Brown alleges he was raped in 1977 at a Cabot Street apartment in Portsmouth by Father Wilfred Houle. A death certificate for Houle from Massachusetts indicates he died on April 30, 1987, from respiratory arrest as a consequence of having AIDS.
Portsmouth police said they received no reports about the alleged incident.
Houle was ordained in 1975 and concluded his ministry in New Hampshire in 1981, according to Brian Quirk, attorney for the diocese.
"It is the practice and policy of the Diocese of Manchester to respond with concern to anyone who reports having been harmed by church personnel," Quirk said. "The documents provided to us today, by the media, are being seen for the first time and contain allegations that are completely without merit. If Mr. Brown files a lawsuit, we are confident that it will be dismissed."
Brown confirmed the lawsuit has been filed with the court. He said his criminal case was part of a group settlement with the diocese that he feels he was coerced into taking. He received $490,000 but was seeking $2,250,000
"With that, I could have set up investments to have an income of $80,000, which would allow me to pay the $40,000 a year for my medications and live a middle class life for the rest of my life. All I want now is to die in my own bed. I don't want to end up in a hospice in a diaper."
Brown said he filed the civil suit now because there is a seven-year statute of limitations from the time he learned that Houle had died of AIDS. He said he learned in 2002.
Brown believes that it was Houle who infected him for two reasons, the first being the number of years it takes for symptoms to show. The second reason is that from the time he was 20 to 28, he was in a monogamous relationship with a man who was not HIV positive.
According to a report on the University of Hartford Web site, the first documented case of AIDS was in 1981, but the report said cases in the U.S. were recorded as far back as 1952.
"I had been questioning for some time if it was Houle because it was the only logical answer for this," said Brown. "I was in a long-term relationship and we practiced safe sex."
A private investigation was done by Kroll, a risk consulting company, at the request of Brown and copied to his attorney, Peter Hutchins. The investigators looked into Houle's life during the time he was a priest at St. Mary's in Dover, beginning in 1977.
During that time, Houle had a room in a Cabot Street apartment shared by two other men.
Many taped depositions were taken by people involved with the Cabot Street apartment or the Seacoast Gay Men's Group and a bar called City Side, later the Sea Port Club, recognized locally as a gay-friendly establishment. While the witnesses are identified in the depositions obtained by the Herald, they will not be identified in the article.
In a deposition given to Kroll by one of his former roommates, the man said, "If there is a devil on earth, he's it," referring to Houle, who was known locally as Father Willy.
According to witnesses, Houle frequented the club, picking up young men and bringing them back to the Cabot Street apartment. The witnesses also said they believed Houle was a drug user who supplied the young men with drugs. Others testified there were gay pornographic materials in his room, many showing sexual positions and the use of leather.
"We knew he had drugs," said one woman. "The boys were prepared to get drugs when they were with Father Willy."
She and others also said they suspected that many of the young men were underage.
The roommate said he believes that Houle owned the City Side bar at some point in time. He also said the priest once gave him a drug and then performed oral sex on him.
Others said they found it odd that Houle, while engaging in the alleged activities, was very open about the fact that he was gay and a priest.
"I saw him as a master of seduction," said another witness. "He knew how, what and where; he knew exactly how to entice and seduce. He was good at it."
A Dover resident who was a parishioner at St. Mary's said she and her family were friendly with Houle and often had him over for dinner. The woman said she never saw any signs of the aberrant behavior the others talked about but she did know he died from AIDS.
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