Former Essex Junction Priest Likely Subject of Abuse Probe
May 12, 2002
A former Essex Junction priest accused of molesting boys in Connecticut and Vermont could be the target of a criminal probe by the Vermont attorney general's office, according to a published report.
The Burlington Free Press said in Sunday's editions that the former Rev. Charles Many, who became associate pastor of St. Lawrence Church in 1981, was removed in 1986, after a St. Lawrence parishioner contacted the state Catholic diocese to say Many had molested her son.
The report came the same day Bishop Kenneth Angell of the Vermont Catholic Diocese issued a letter to be read at Saturday and Sunday Masses on his intent to "submit to the Vermont attorney general information concerning credible allegations of sexual abuse by minors by priests regardless of the date of the allegations."
Church representatives earlier had told state officials they wanted to supply information dating only back to 1982, which the state had indicated was the earliest date of a crime for which someone could still be prosecuted.
Attorney General William Sorrell recently criticized that limitation, saying he wanted earlier information even if it did not result in prosecutions.
Angell wrote, "I expect that the attorney general will agree that in many cases of alleged impropriety, the church has acted responsibly, has disciplined the accused, sought professional help and, in some cases, dismissed the offender from any further church ministry."
But the bishop added should the state "further investigate some of the allegations ... a priest would be required to step down from ministry during the investigative process" and, depending on the result, "possibly be denied any further ministry in the church."
Many, a Williston native, St. Michael's College graduate and member of the Edmundite order of priests, went to Essex Junction after working as a priest in Connecticut, where he became the target of a lawsuit after alleged molestation of a young male.
The Many case, documented in papers on file at U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn., shows that Connecticut Catholic church officials moved slowly in responding to abuse allegations, but in Vermont, Edmundite leaders quickly responded to such claims.
After Many was removed from St. Lawrence in 1986, he was allowed to live at Fairholt, then the Edmundite headquarters in Burlington, for eight years. He left the priesthood after the additional molestation allegations from Connecticut surfaced.
Edmundite leaders at Vermont headquarters say no one from Connecticut -- not from the church, the parish, Waddington, Comeau or their parents -- called them at the time of Many's transfer to Essex Junction to say he had molested anyone.
"They should have come forward," said the Rev. Richard Myhalyk, the Edmundites' superior general. "I had never suspected any inappropriate behavior on his part. When I learned about it, I was floored."
During his time at St. Lawrence, Many developed a 400-member youth ministry, became chairman of the Rice Memorial High School Board, and was chaplain for Fanny Allen Hospital and the Sisters of Providence.
After the 1986 abuse allegation, Many agreed to undergo psychological testing, the results of which were later included in court files in the Connecticut lawsuit.
"(Many) has been sexually active in a number of relationships with adolescents and young adult males," then-University Health Center clinician Richard Bingham wrote in an Aug. 1, 1986, assessment.
"During the five years he has been in his current parish, he has had brief sexual relationships with one other adolescent and two young men in their early twenties."
Sorrell said recently that his office believes it has authority under law to prosecute cases of molestation dating back to 1982, under Vermont's time limits for such prosecutions.
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