Thomas Dupre, Former Springfield Bishop Indicted on Child Rape Charges, Dead at 83
By Brian Steele
January 2, 2017
|In this 2003 Republican file photo, former Bishop Thomas Dupre of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, addresses the media to announce a policy for the protection of children and youth, and a code of conduct for clergy, administrators and volunteers. He was indicted on child rape charges the following year and died on Dec. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/The Berkshire Eagle, Ben Garver, File)|
Thomas L. Dupre, a former bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield who left his position in disgrace amid The Republican's reporting of child sex abuse allegations, died Friday at the age of 83.
Dupre was bishop from 1995 to 2004, when accusations made by the mother of an alleged abuse victim became public.
He retired the day after The Republican sought his response to detailed written accounts of alleged child rape. The diocese claimed the timing was a coincidence, saying the pope had allowed Dupre's months-old request to retire five years early due to failing health.
On Sept. 27, 2004, about seven months after Dupre retired, he was indicted by a Hampden County grand jury on charges that he sexually assaulted two altar boys, ages 12 and 13, more than three decades prior. The same day, then-District Attorney William Bennett announced the case would not go to trial because the statute of limitations had expired on some charges and the grand jury declined to indict on others.
Dupre was the first Roman Catholic bishop to be indicted in a nationwide wave of sexual abuse accusations against priests and other church leaders.
The alleged abuse occurred while Dupre was a parish priest in Chicopee and West Springfield in the 1970s, according to The Republican's reporting. He allegedly showed his victims pornography, gave them alcohol and took them on trips out of the country.
When Dupre was elevated to auxiliary bishop in 1990, and again when he took the top job in 1995, Dupre allegedly called his victims to make sure they wouldn't disclose the abuse.
Mark Dupont, spokesman for the diocese, acknowledged Dupre's death in a brief statement Monday night.
"The Diocese of Springfield has been informed of the passing of Thomas L. Dupre, former Bishop of Springfield. He was 83 at the time of his death on December 30. He passed away outside the diocese and all funeral arrangements have been scheduled to be private," said Dupont.
Contemporary reporting from The Boston Globe's famed Spotlight investigative team said Dupre was also criticized for failing to appropriately respond to the case of the Rev. Richard L. Lavigne, a pedophile priest "who had been convicted of abusing boys in 1992 and is a suspect in the 1972 murder of Springfield altar boy Daniel Croteau."
Dupre defrocked Lavigne 11 years after his conviction and eight years after taking over as bishop. Lavigne was never charged with Croteau's murder, which remains unsolved. He is a Level 3 registered sex offender, considered the most dangerous category by the state, and resides in Chicopee.