Bishop Places Kane on Leave
Priest Is Subject of Sex Abuse
By George B. Griffin
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
April 24, 1993
The Rev. Thomas A. Kane, associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Gardner, has been placed on indefinite leave in the wake of allegations that he sexually assaulted a 9-year-old boy.
The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on behalf of Mark D. Barry, 34, of Uxbridge.The suit alleges that Kane assaulted Barry off and on for 11 years, beginning in 1968 when Barry was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Uxbridge.
Barry said in an interview that he hoped one day to be able to forgive Kane. That forgiveness, he said, would begin to heal his psychological wounds.
"I have to heal," Barry said. "That's God's will. I have to put this behind me if it takes a jury trial three years from now."
Barry alleges he was forced by Kane to perform a number of sexual acts at St. Mary's Church and the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville, a psychological treatment center for the religious that Kane co-founded and directed.
Kane was not at Sacred Heart Church or its rectory yesterday and did not return phone calls to the Telegram & Gazette.
Bishop Timothy J. Harrington said in a written statement that the allegations "are a cause of great sadness to me and the people of this diocese."
"When the allegations of Mark Barry against Father Thomas Kane were brought to the attention of diocesan officials, that very afternoon those officials and another member of my staff met with Father Kane," Harrington said. "Father Kane categorically and emphatically denied all the charges.
"Now that those allegations are the subject of public judicial investigation, Father Kane will be granted administrative leave until the matter is resolved."
Barry said the lawsuit was his way of regaining a measure of control over his life.
He said the childhood sexual abuse had left him unable to find a way out of his situation. By the time he was a teen-ager, he said, he was so confused and conditioned to the abuse that he could not stop it. He said he was already on his way to becoming an alcoholic and a drug abuser and was developing the out-of-control behavior that eventually would land him in jail.
Now, after months of psychotherapy and sobriety, he said he believes he is on his way to turning things around.
"I am taking my life back," he said. "I've carried this secret for years. But secrets kill. My lawsuit is not an accusation. It's my life."
Barry was an altar boy at St. Mary's and attended the church's school. The abuse began, Barry said, at a time when Kane visited the church regularly to assist with a variety of its functions.
Barry said Kane ingratiated himself to his family, earned the trust of his parents and eventually got their permission to take him on outings, some of which lasted the weekend.
"It started with us taking day trips," he said. "He'd take me to lunch, or to ball games."
Barry said that in the summer of 1968, Kane took him to a cottage in Upton, where he was sexually abused. That incident was the first of dozens of sexual encounters that occurred at the House of Affirmation, at the church and elsewhere, he said. He said Kane plied him with liquor and gave him expensive gifts and money.
As he grew older, he said, the abuse became more bizarre and the gifts and money larger. Barry said he was was taken to rural retreats, where he was held out by Kane for sex with other priests.
Barry said that Kane also enjoyed voyeurism and offered Barry money to engage in sex with other men while Kane watched, and sometimes took photographs.
As time wore on, Barry said, he felt himself more and more trapped in the relationship.
"At some point, I guess, I felt I owed him," Barry said. "I was eventually living in a house he owned in Vermont and he co-signed for a car I had."
Kane, according to the Manchester, Vt., town clerk, sold a house there in January 1991.
LEADER TO FELON
Barry said he became so out of control as a teen-ager that he went from being class president to being a felon. He served a year in prison for illegal possession of a handgun, and has been arrested on other charges, including larceny by check and breaking and entering. He was charged with assault with intent to rape, but that charge was dropped when a Worcester County grand jury found no evidence to support an indictment.
Barry said his marriage deteriorated and eventually ended in divorce; his drinking and drug use escalated.
"My son's in school now," he said. "And when I look at him and I think of this stuff, I don't know what direction my life might have taken. I had dreams of being an attorney, of doing something. Kane stopped my life at 10 years old. I'm 34 years old now and don't know how long it's going to take me to heal.
"I don't have kid memories. I don't have any boy-meets-girl puppy love kind of memories. My sexual development came at the hands of Kane."
Barry said the abuse has left him struggling with depression and a sense of isolation. He said he believes that eventually, he will be able to overcome these problems.
"Most important of all, I want people to know that whatever you're holding inside, whatever secret or fear, if you take the opportunity to take the situation you found unbearable and unmanageable and tell it to one other person you can trust, then it becomes bearable," he said. "The Catholic Church is an institution, it's a man-made authority. There's one ultimate authority that we have to remember - that's God. He saved my life. My faith is in God. I have no faith in the Catholic Church."
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