Worcester Diocese Faces Sex Abuse Suit

By Doris Sue Wong
Boston Globe
April 24, 1993

Three men have filed lawsuits in Suffolk Superior Court against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, charging that they were sexually abused as children by priests during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mark Barry, 34, of Uxbridge, alleges he was repeatedly sexually abused by Rev. Thomas Kane from 1968 to 1979 while Father Kane was a priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Uxbridge.

Father Kane was also named as a defendant in a separate lawsuit filed by Robert Malo, 26, of South Grafton, and Barry W. Houle, 31, of Northborough. In that lawsuit, Father Kane is not accused of sexual abuse, but rather is charged with being instrumental in having another priest, Rev. Victor A. Frobas, assigned to a parish in Northborough where he allegedly indecently assaulted Malo and Houle.

Malo contends that he was sexually molested and raped by Father Frobas in 1978 and 1979 while the priest was assigned to the St. Rose of Lima Parish in Northborough.

According to Malo's suit, Father Frobas was sent to the Worcester area for treatment in 1978 after he was accused of sexual molestation while serving in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va.

Father Frobas allegedly was being treated by the House of Affirmation, a counseling program directed by Father Kane and sponsored by the Worcester Diocese, when the diocese and Father Kane arranged his assignment to St. Rose of Lima.

The suit alleges that by the time Malo allegedly was raped in January 1979, Father Kane, then-Auxiliary Bishop Timothy J. Harrington and a board member of the House of Affirmation were all aware that Father Frobas had been accused of sexually molesting another boy but failed to have him removed.

Houle, who filed a joint lawsuit with Malo, alleges that he was sexually abused by Father Frobas in the summer of 1978 and immediately reported the assault to his parents.

During a meeting a short time later, Father Kane, now parish priest at the Sacred Heart Church in Gardner, and Bishop Harrington, now bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, allegedly persuaded Houle and his parents not to disclose or report the charge of sexual abuse to law enforcement, in return promising that Father Frobas would receive treatment and be removed.

The lawsuit charges that Father Frobas was not removed until after he allegedly raped Malo and then was transferred through a series of churches in West Virginia, Washington and Missouri, where he later served a two-year prison sentence for sexual assaults. He is now living in a nursing home in St. Louis.

James G. Reardon, a lawyer for the diocese, said yesterday that he had just received copies of the lawsuits, which were filed Thursday. He said that after examining the allegations, he would file a response.


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