Group Offers Support for Two Men Who Claim They Were Abused by Fall River Diocese Priest
By Curt Brown
South Coast Today
May 13, 2014
A New Jersey-based group for sexual abuse victims offered its support today for two men, who are charging in a lawsuit that former Fall River Bishop Daniel A. Cronin did not properly supervise a priest they said assaulted them.
"We are supporting two men who have said 'enough is enough," said Robert M. Hoatson, co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit charity that assists victims of sexual abuse and their families.
The victims have accused the late Rev. Monsignor Maurice Souza, a New Bedford native, of sexually abusing them when they were altar boys, beginning when they were 9 and 10 years old, and Souza was assigned to St. Anthony's Parish in East Falmouth.
The lawsuit, filed in January in a Connecticut court, names Cronin and the Fall River Diocese as defendants. Cronin headed the Diocese for 21 years until he left in December 1991 to become archbishop of the Hartford Diocese.
In a separate press conference, John E. Kearns Jr., a spokesman for the Fall River Diocese, said the Diocese first learned of the allegations against Souza when it was notified of a possible claim in 2012.
The charges were investigated and the Diocese's representatives did not believe there was support for "some of the more severe allegations," Kearns said.
The victims were offered counseling and the Diocese and the victims' attorney, Mitchell Garabedian of Boston, entered into mediation last year, according to Kearns. Garabedian stopped the mediation in May of last year and filed a lawsuit in January.
"We wanted to resolve it through mediation and that process was stopped," Kearns said.
Garabedian, in a telephone interview, called Kearns' comments "inaccurate and self-serving."
"The mediation ended because the Diocese was being unreasonable in its position," he said. "It was unsuccessful."