Religious Order Pays $100k to Andover Man in Abuse Case

By Yadira Betances
Eagle Tribune
October 29, 2011

The Augustinian Order has paid $100,000 in a sexual abuse case involving a priest and a religious brother who served at St. Mary parish in the mid-1960s.

According to documents filed at Lawrence District Court, the Rev. Alfred Murphy and a Brother John abused the plaintiff who was 13 to 16 years old while he was part of St. Mary parish Catholic Youth Group.

A third party, who was not identified in the court papers, but is associated with the Augustinians, was also named in the lawsuit for failing to properly supervise Murphy and Brother John, who was identified only by his religious name.

"The inaction of supervising priests and the lack of action by superiors is a disgrace," said attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston, who handled the case.

Murphy and Brother John would take boys from St. Mary swimming and kayaking on the Shawsheen River in Andover, during which the abuse took place, Garabedian said.

"Kids thought it was an honor to be taken on a trip by the priests, which is why it was extremely confusing for my client to be sexually abused," he said.

The complaint describes in detail how the victim was sexually molested approximately 25 times between 1966 and 1968.

"The abuse caused him mental distress, emotional damages, depression, anxiety, recurring bad dreams and a slew of bills for medical and therapeutic care and treatment," Garabedian said.

"My client is feeling unnecessary shame and guilt. The money from the settlement does not make the victim whole. It's only a validation that it wasn't their fault," he said.

Terrie Donilon, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, referred questions about the case to the Augustinian Order. Because Murphy is an Augustinian, Cardinal Sean O'Malley does not have jurisdiction over him.

Teddie Gallagher, communications director for the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova in Pennsylvania did not return several telephone calls and emails about the case.

The victim is now in his 50s and lives in Andover.

Two years ago he received a newspaper article in the mail that mentioned how in 1983 Murphy, then pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Lawrence, allegedly molested a 17-year-old boy on 21 consecutive nights during a cross-country trip in a Winnebago.

"He never really forgot it, but seeing the story, he realized the problems he had been suffering were caused by the abuse," Garabedian said.

The alleged victim from 1983 sued the Archdiocese of Boston in 1992, seeking $420,000 in damages, $20,000 for each of the alleged assaults. The suit involving Murphy was settled.

Since 2002, Garabedian has handled 750 sexual abuse cases involving priests.


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