Father of Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Victim Andrew Nicastro, Testifies of Implicit Trust in Priests
By Buffy Spencer
July 26, 2012
Anthony Nicastro testified Thursday he took his son and daughter to church when they were young because he wanted them to get some moral direction in addition to what they got at home.
He said he never worried about his son >Andrew Nicastro’s interactions as an altar boy with now defrocked priest Alfred Graves, the family’s pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in Williamstown.
“I had implicit faith and trust in priests,” said Anthony Nicastro, who said he went to parochial school and Catholic high school in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Anthony Nicastro, a “semi-retired” professor at Williams College and North Adams State College, said he never knew Graves had sexually assaulted his son Andrew Nicastro over a period of about three years starting when the boy was about 11 years old.
The first time he heard what Graves had done to his son was in 2008 when his son asked if he wanted to accompany him to a meeting with a committee of the Springfield Diocese where he was going to tell his story.
Anthony Nicastro took the stand in Hampden Superior Court to testify in his son’s civil lawsuit against two former bishops.
Andrew Nicastro, now 42 and living in Williamstown, sued the Most Rev. Joseph F. Maguire and the Most Rev. Thomas L. Dupre, saying they should be held accountable for his several years of childhood abuse by Graves because they were in supervisory positions in the Roman Catholic Diocese and knew Graves had assaulted two other boys before Nicastro.
Lawyers for both defendants have acknowledged Graves did sexually abuse Nicastro. An investigator hired by the Diocese has testified Graves admitted to abusing Nicastro.
John Egan, Maguire’s lawyer, said in his opening Maguire will testify he confronted Graves about a complaint of a sexual assault by a different boy in 1976 while Graves was at a Springfield parish. Egan said Maguire will testify Graves admitted the behavior toward the other boy, and said he wouldn’t do it again.
Egan said that was a reasonable response by Maguire for that time period, and Maguire shouldn’t be held responsible for Graves’ sexual assaults on Nicastro in the early to mid 1980’s.
Lawyers for the defendants had unsuccessfully tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds the statute of limitations had expired by the time the suit was filed.
But the statute of limitations issue has become paramount in questioning by the defense so far in the trial before Judge Constance M. Sweeney.
Andrew Nicastro testified Wednesday it wasn’t until 2008 that he realized Graves’ sexual assaults had led him to become a person ruled by angry outbursts, suffering depression, and unable to connect emotionally with people.
Michael O. Jennings, a lawyer for Dupre, asked Andrew Nicastro a series of questions about what he knew about the statute of limitations and when he learned it.
He asked Nicastro if he understood the reason there was so much questioning about who he told about Graves’ abuse and when he told is because of the statute of limitations.
Nicastro contends he did not realize how Graves sexual assaults had changed his personality and affected his life until speaking with another priest in 2008, so his suit falls within the statute of limitations.
The defense was allowed to call the Rev. William Cyr, a priest at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in North Adams, on Wednesday because of scheduling issues even though the prosecution has not finished its case.
Cyr said Anthony and Andrew Nicastro met with him prior to 2002 and reported something terrible had happened with Graves.
Both Anthony and Andrew Nicastro testified there was no such meeting.
Leigh-Anne Nicastro, Andrew’s wife, took the stand and said her then-fiancee told her in 1999 after pre-wedding Catholic counseling six weeks before the wedding he was abused as a child, but never said any more about it and never said the perpetrator was a priest.
Kevin D. Withers, lawyer for Maguire, asked Leigh-Anne Nicastro several times whether she asked Nicastro more about the abuse.
She said she did not, in part because her husband had made it clear when he mentioned being abused as a child he would not talk more about it.
Cross-examination of Anthony Nicastro is scheduled to resume Friday.