Chesterfield Man Alleges Sexual Abuse by Priest, Sues Catholic Diocese of Springfield
By Bob Dunn
Daily Hampshire Gazette
July 11, 2013
A 20-year-old Chesterfield man has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, alleging he was sexually abused as a child by a priest.
Named as defendants in the suit are the Springfield Diocese, former Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, and a priest identified only as Father R. or Father Rick, who served at St. Patrick’s Parish in Chicopee. The alleged abuser is a priest who is now deceased.
The plaintiff is not identified by name in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Hampshire Superior Court. It alleges that over a four-year span beginning when the plaintiff was 13, he was abused “over 50 times” and at several locations, including at a Northampton home, St. Patrick’s Parish, and at the Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer, a religious retreat in Jamaica, Vt.
When reached by telephone Thursday morning, plaintiff’s attorney John J. Stobierski of Greenfield said he wasn’t prepared to comment on the case now, but plans to release a statement sometime in the future.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages for severe physical and emotional distress.
The suit alleges negligence on the parts of McDonnell, the diocese and “Father Rick” who “knew or should have known (the priest) posed a danger to young boys.”
The diocese issued a statement Thursday saying it had not seen the lawsuit.
“We are reviewing this matter,” the statement reads. “The Diocese of Springfield remains committed to the safety of our young people. We regularly conduct trainings and CORI background checks on all clergy, religious and lay, who work in the diocese, whether or not they have regular contact with younger persons. Furthermore, we have extensive abuse awareness training offered in our schools and religious education to educate our young people.”
David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement Thursday that reads: “It takes courage for victims to stand up to their abusers and we commend this brave man for coming forward, seeking justice and protecting others.”
In a telephone interview, Peter Pollard of the Springfield SNAP chapter said while he couldn’t comment on this case specifically, “We’re always inspired by someone who’s willing to come forward.”
“It’s a useful and helpful action for other survivors to take this stand,” he said.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org