Priest who served parishes in Mendon, Upton accused of sex abuse in the ’70s
By Elaine Thompson
Telegram & Gazette via MetroWest Daily News
October 02, 2020
|The Chancery building of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, 49 Elm St., Worcester.|
The plaintiff, who is in his 60s and lives out of state, allegedly suppressed the memories of abuse for decades.
WORCESTER — The Diocese of Worcester and retired priest the Rev. Thomas E. Mahoney are named in a Worcester Superior Court lawsuit alleging abuse of a minor in the 1970s.
“Because of the serious nature of the allegation, and consistent with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Fr. Mahoney was notified that I have relieved him of his faculties as a priest,” Bishop Robert J. McManus stated in a press release on Thursday.
Mahoney, who lives at 5 Daniel Drive, Unit 5 in North Oxford, retired as co-pastor of St. Gabriel, the Archangel Parish in Upton in 2012. He was ordained as a priest for the Worcester Diocese in 1968. He also served at St. Mary in North Grafton; Our Lady of the Angels and St. Andrew the Apostle in Worcester; St. Mary in Uxbridge; and St. Michael the Archangel in Mendon.
According to the complaint, Mahoney used his position as a priest to groom and sexually harass the minor boy from 1971 until 1974. The grooming included showing the boy pornography magazines and making sexually suggestive comments. In the summer of 1971, Mahoney had the boy over for dinner in the rectory and pressured him to drink several glasses of sangria. After the boy became intoxicated, Mahoney took him to his bedroom and made him get undressed. Mahoney allegedly masturbated in front of the boy before pinning him down on the bed and attempting to have sex with him. The boy fought the priest off, gathered his clothes and left. But the sexual misconduct continued.
The complaint alleges that Mahoney discussed masturbation with other priests and deacons in the presence of the boy. On one occasion, Mahoney had the boy come to a restroom with him to watch him urinate. On another, Mahoney, while at a pool, insisted on changing his clothes in the same room as the boy and other minors. Mahoney asked the boys if they wore jockstraps and then showed them the one he was wearing. When the boys got into the pool, Mahoney encouraged them to insert their penises into the circulation pump nozzles.
The alleged acts, which “inflicted severe emotional distress upon” the plaintiff, took place in Worcester and Boylston, as well as various locations in Barnstable County, according to the complaint.
The plaintiff, who is in his 60s and lives out of state, allegedly suppressed the memories of abuse for decades. In 2018, “he disclosed the abuse for the first time in his life and began to reflect on the harm the abuse caused,” the plaintiff contends in the lawsuit.
“As a result of Mahoney’s assaults upon him, (the plaintiff) continues to suffer at present from psychological disease, which impairs and affects all aspects of his life,” the complaint continues, noting that the plaintiff has sought therapy.
The Diocese of Worcester is listed as a defendant, because it “negligently hired, trained, supervised and retained Mahoney, a priest who it knew or should have known was engaging in sexual misconduct,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit was filed electronically in Worcester Superior Court on April 6, when the courthouse was closed to the public because of the pandemic. On Sept. 16, Judge David Ricciardone allowed a motion by the plaintiff, listed as John Doe, to extend the time to serve the defendants with the summons and the complaint. Notices were mailed on Sept. 23.
“The news of any claim of sexual misconduct with a minor is always shocking,” McManus said in the press release. “I ask that you keep all victims of abuse in your prayers. I also ask that you keep Fr. Mahoney in your prayers as the matter is addressed.”
He said a canonical process has begun, including a report of the allegation to the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. If Mahoney is found guilty of the allegation, he could be removed from the clerical state or receive a sanction such as a life of prayer and penance, the bishop said.
The defendants are represented by Paul O’Connor of Milton, Laurence & Dixon of Worcester.
Boston attorneys Carmen L. Durso and Sara Elizabeth Burns are representing the plaintiff.