Suit Claims Priests Ran Sex Ring - Children Were Shared by Clergy at Center
By Kathleen A. Shaw
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
July 24, 2002
Worcester — A child sexual abuse ring involving the Rev. John Geoghan of the Boston archdiocese, the Rev. David L. Blizard and the late Rev. Victor Frobas of the Worcester diocese and others, operated from the former House of Affirmation in Whitinsville, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Worcester Superior Court.
The suit also names the Worcester diocese, the Boston archdiocese and its Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Daily, who was also chancellor in Boston at the time of the alleged incidents.The allegation was made by Robert Malo, formerly of Northboro, who received settlements in the mid-1990s from the Worcester and Wheeling/Charleston, W. Va., dioceses regarding alleged abuse by Rev. Frobas, who has since died, and the Rev. Thomas A. Kane.
These incidents in the latest suit are said to have occurred from 1978 to 1980. Rev. Blizard, a native of Whitinsville, was assigned to Our Lady Immaculate parish in Athol at the time. Rev. Frobus was at St. Rose of Lima in Northboro. Rev. Geoghan was in the Boston archdiocese and Rev. Kane was executive director of the House of Affirmation.
According to the suit, "....the House of Affirmation Inc. contained a 'child sex ring' whereby young children were subjected to repeated sexual abuse.''
The House of Affirmation was founded by Rev. Kane and the late Sister Anna Polcino, a religious sister who was also a psychiatrist. The House was founded to provide treatment for priests and religious for a variety of psychological problems, including sexual issues.
Rev. Kane, the subject of a past suit alleging sexual abuse of a 9-year-old boy, was last known to be in Mexico. He operated as a therapist at the House based on a bogus doctoral degree. He also served as executive director.
The House, which operated independently but had the support of bishops and cardinals locally and throughout the country, closed in 1987 amid a financial scandal.
A confidential settlement of a suit by Mark Barry of Uxbridge against Rev. Kane and the Worcester diocese included an agreement within the agreement to absolve from blame other priests, including Monsignor Brendan Riordan of the Rockville Centre, N.Y., diocese, and the Rev. Robert A. Shauris, then a priest of the Worcester diocese. Rev. Shauris has been on leave from the diocese for several years.
Daniel J. Shea, a lawyer from Worcester and Houston, has maintained that the agreement also pointed to a child sexual abuse ring. He has subpoenaed Bishop Daniel P. Reilly to give a deposition under oath regarding a lawsuit filed by two women against the Rev. Robert E. Kelley, a convicted child rapist, who is scheduled to be arraigned today in Worcester Superior Court on another child rape charge.
Mr. Shea said the lawyers for the Worcester diocese are attempting to steer any questioning of the bishop away from the House of Affirmation. The late James G. Reardon, who represented the Worcester diocese before his death, called a number of priests to his office in the 1990s and specifically questioned them about the existence of a so-called "ring.''
Mr. Malo is represented by Tom G. Vukmirovits of 306 Main St., Worcester. Mr. Vukmirovits said he has known Mr. Malo for several years and has handled past issues for him.
Rev. Geoghan was convicted on a child molestation charge in January in Boston and was sentenced to a prison term. The subsequent revelations made in that case opened up the sexual abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church.
According to the suit, Mr. Malo was sexually abused by Rev. Frobas, who was then assigned to St. Rose of Lima parish in Northboro. He later brought Mr. Malo, who was a child, on two occasions to a church either in Boston or the Boston area.
Mr. Malo was "dropped off at this church for a couple of hours by Victor A. Frobas under the guise of 'playing a game,''' the suit alleges. "This game consisted of going into a bedroom, attached to this church, and then removing items of clothing one piece at a time under the direction and instructions of defendant Geoghan.'' Mr. Malo was abused through anal and oral sex on these occasions, the suit said.
Rev. Frobas was a priest of the Wheeling/Charleston diocese from 1966 to 1978 and was "relocated'' to the House of Affirmation to receive treatment of his sexual attraction to and molestation of young boys, the suit said. He was at the House for a period of time from 1978 to 1979, according to the suit.
The late Bishop Timothy J. Harrington "joined'' him to St. Rose of Lima parish in 1978 and 1979, the suit said. Bishop Harrington did not tell parishioners in Northboro about Rev. Frobas' "problem'' with "sexual abuse or pedophilic tendencies,'' the suit said.
The bishop never took "preventative actions'' to limit his access to underage boys, the suit said. During late 1978 or 1979, Mr. Malo was taken to the House of Affirmation by Rev. Frobas, where he was "included in said 'child sex ring' and sexually abused'' by Rev. Blizard, according to the suit.
Rev. Blizard's whereabouts are not known. A number of men have come forward in recent months to say they were abused by Rev. Blizard, but this is the first suit against him. He left the priesthood in the late 1980s and was last known to be living in Waterbury, Conn.
Mr. Vukmirovits said Mr. Malo recently met with state police attached to the office of District Attorney John J. Conte to discuss his allegations against Rev. Blizard.
The suit also alleges that in the 1993 suit Mr. Malo brought against the diocese, the House of Affirmation, Rev. Frobas and Rev. Kane, the suit was settled but Mr. Malo was given false information, and thus can invalidate the confidentiality agreement that was part of the settlement.
Before bringing suit in 1993, Mr. Malo inquired about the identity "of the man that sexually abused him in Boston'' and provided descriptions. He was told by Bishop Harrington "that no such priest existed or, alternatively, that any such priest was dead.'' Mr. Malo lacked sufficient information at the time to bring action against Rev. Geoghan or the Boston archdiocese, the suit said.
Mr. Malo recognized Rev. Geoghan when he saw recent newspaper articles or photographs of videotape clips of Rev. Geoghan and Rev. Blizard in late 2001 and early 2002, the suit said. He then made the connection to the abuse, the suit said.
He also realized by reading recent newspaper articles that he was given false information about the assets and real estate conveyances and holdings of Rev. Kane. He said false information regarding this property and assets was also given by the diocese, the suit said.
Rev. Kane transferred property in Florida to Msgr. Riordan just before declaring bankruptcy. The second name on the transaction was Monsignor Alan J. Placa of the Rockville Centre diocese. Monsignor Placa, who is also a lawyer and a longtime friend of former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, was recently removed from his position in New York after a sexual misconduct allegation was made against him by a man living in that state.
Mr. Malo was convicted of sexually abusing one of his own children and served a jail sentence that began in January 2001 and ended several months ago. He has also been found guilty of a charge of assault and battery on his wife, Kim. The two are now separated.
Kim Malo, who lives in Northbridge, has been critical of the Worcester diocese, saying that its protection of pedophile priests led to the abuse of her children.
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