Class-Action Lawsuit Filed against Diocese of Manchester

Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 10, 2002

In what is believed to be the first class-action lawsuit against the Diocese of Manchester, a Londonderry man says he was sexually abused by a New Hampshire priest when he was an altar boy.

The suit, filed late Wednesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court, accuses the Roman Catholic Church of concealing abuse allegations against numerous priests for decades and creating an environment of intimidation in which boys were afraid to report the assaults.

The suit accuses former priest Robert J. Densmore of sexually abusing Craig Galluzzo at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in New London. The suit does not give dates or details.

The suit, on behalf of the now 41-year-old man and "all others similarly situated," names the Diocese of Manchester and others employed by the diocese. It seeks court approval to join all victims of abuse by the church in the suit, though it doesn't say how many class members are expected.

"The acts and omissions of the defendants created an environment of permissiveness from the perspective of the offending priests, and an environment from the perspective of class members which discouraged the reporting of said abuse," the suit says.

The suit also accuses the Diocese of Manchester and its employees of conspiring to conceal the names of priests who abused children.

"The ultimate end of this agreement was to obstruct the ability of law enforcement to prosecute the offenders, and/or to withhold relevant and important information regarding child abuse from authorities," the suit states.

It wasn't until February, the suit says, that the diocese began to release names of accused priests, even though the allegations against the priests dated back to the early 1960s. Densmore was on the list released in February.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, requests a jury trial.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester could not be reached for comment Wednesday.


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