Lawsuits Allege Sexual Abuse Decades Ago by Harwich Priest
Cape Cod Times
January 22, 2015
An advocacy group held a demonstration Wednesday in Fairhaven to alert the public to two lawsuits filed last month accusing Roman Catholic Church officials of failing to supervise the late Rev. James R. Nickel, who allegedly sexually abused two boys while he was assigned to Holy Trinity Church in West Harwich and another church in Fairhaven.
Road to Recovery Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit organization that assists victims of sexual abuse, staged the demonstration outside the headquarters of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a religious order, to encourage other victims to come forward, Robert Hoatson, the charity’s president, said.
The plaintiffs are represented by Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston lawyer who spearheaded the sexual abuse lawsuits against former priest John J. Geoghan and the Boston Archdiocese. Both lawsuits accusing Nickel of abuse were filed in December in Bristol Superior Court.
“He is a known pedophile,” Garabedian said of Nickel.
According to one lawsuit, Nickel was assigned by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts to Holy Trinity Parish from around 1972 to 1978, during which time he counseled children and participated in youth activities.
The suit names the Rev. Gabriel Healy, former pastor of Holy Trinity Church; the Rev. Fintan D. Sheeran, formerly of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts; former Fall River Bishop Daniel A. Cronin; and two unspecified church officials as defendants.