Shore Priest Accused; Two Men File Suit against Cleric, Church
By Tom Mashberg
March 11, 2002
Two men who say they were molested as teenagers by a former North Shore priest have filed suit against the cleric and the Archdiocese of Boston, each alleging the priest drove them to New Hampshire to assault them and each saying a monsignor was aware of the abuse yet did nothing to stop it.
The accusations against the Rev. George J. Rosenkranz, 61, who has been on sick leave from the archdiocese since 1990 and is believed to be living in Florida, open the possibility he could face a criminal trial in New Hampshire, an attorney for the two plaintiffs said. A third plaintiff filed an abuse lawsuit against Rosenkranz in 2000. "Indications exist that the archdiocese was aware this priest was actively abusing kids as far back as the 1960s, and yet he was allowed to transfer from parish to parish," said attorney Jeffrey A. Newman. "The fact that the victims were taken to New Hampshire and molested there exposes a clear pattern of manipulation for sexual gratification," he said. "Because the criminal statute of limitations remains open in New Hampshire, authorities there can investigate these matters for prosecution."
In interviews yesterday, the two plaintiffs, who do not know each other and who requested anonymity, offered similar accounts of the sex abuse they say they suffered as altar boys at two North Shore parishes - Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Marblehead and Blessed Sacrament in Saugus.
Each accuser said he was first approached by Rosenkranz in the empty basement of the parish rectory. Each said the priest began his campaign of abuse by kissing him on the lips to "teach how to kiss."
They both said Rosenkranz eventually pulled down the boy's pants while nuzzling him, and each accuser said Rosenkranz took him on an overnight voyage to New Hampshire, rented a motel room and molested him in a bed there.
Each accuser also says a monsignor at least once spotted him in a suspect position with Rosenkranz, but did nothing about the abuse.
In addtion to Saugus and Marblehead, Rosenkranz was assigned by the archdiocese to parishes in Salem, Beverly, North Reading and West Newbury between his 1962 ordination and 1990 sick leave.
"His abuse was very gradual, it escalated, it was all about gaining power over me," said one plaintiff, a 50-year-old state worker from Western Massachusetts, who says he was abused while Rosenkranz was in Marblehead the late-1960s.
"He was young and charismatic and drove a Mercedes," said the plaintiff, who has since left the church. "I was flattered by his interest in my becoming a priest. But as I came to terms with the abuse, I found it formed my adult attitudes toward intimacy. His actions were very destructive to me."
The other plaintiff, a 45-year-old software engineer from Lynn, recalled a similar pattern of escalating abuse. It began, he said, in the 1970s, when he was playing the organ in the basement of his Saugus parish and Rosenkranz sat next to him and kissed his forehead. Soon, he said, the priest was secreting him up to his rectory bedroom and repeatedly molesting his genitals.
"He treated it like a normal thing," the accuser said. "Like it was my duty to go to church and do this with him because I was an altar boy. For almost 30 years I thought I was the only one.
Then I saw his name in the newspaper."
He was referring to a lengthy account of Rosenkranz's alleged acts of abuse against the Marblehead plaintiff that appeared in The Daily Item of Lynn last week.
The Saugus plaintiff also alleges that Rosenkranz raped him orally in New Hampshire in 1972.
The accuser said he is eager to levy charges in New Hampshire and to testify against the priest in open court if granted the opportunity.
"I would like to face him and ask why he did this to me," he said.
The Marblehead victim said he confronted Rosenkranz himself in 1987, and soon after met with chancery officials in Brighton.
He said he was initially told the hierarchy had determined Rosenkranz was not "a deviant personality."
Within four years, the plaintiff said, the church contacted him anew and informed him that they had found his complaints credible.
Since then, the archdiocese has reimbursed the plaintiff $ 23,000 for mental therapy costs, he said.
Newman, who represents 50 alleged victims of priests and 14 victims of serial pedophile and jailed former church worker Christopher J. Reardon of Middleton, has hired a private investigator to probe Rosenkranz. "The notion he can ruin kids' lives and move out of state to flee justice is outrageous," he said.
Caption: SUSPECT: The Rev. George J. Rosenkranz, above, faces at least three molestation lawsuits. At left, convicted child molester John Geoghan, left front, and Rosenkranz, right front, pose for a photograph with seminary classmate Bishop Anthony Dickson in 1971.
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