Messier Finances Revealed
Accused Priest Court Files Open
By Kathleen A Shaw
Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
December 5, 2002
WORCESTER — The Rev. Raymond P. Messier, a priest who was removed from his parish assignments in Athol and Petersham amid allegations of sexual abuse, is paid $1,418 a month in non-taxed wages by the Worcester Diocese and said he owns a Charlton home worth nearly $170,000.
The information is in his Nov. 15 filing for bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Worcester. The filing said he also owns $700 in firearms, a 1997 Chevrolet Astro Van worth $5,500, a boat and motor, clothing, household items and a chalice worth about $100.
The priest, in his filing, is seeking to protect himself from a $1 million claim in two civil suits filed in Worcester Superior Court by three men who allege they were sexually abused by him. He also seeks protection from credit card debt. Court records indicate he owes Discover about $6,106, MBNA America about $8,800 and Sears about $4,000.
"I think what he is trying to do is protect himself from the civil suits but to also keep new claimants from coming forward," said Boston lawyer Carmen L. Durso, who represents the three men who filed the civil suits.
David Nickless of Fitchburg, a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy, has been retained by Mr. Durso to represent the interests of the alleged sexual abuse victims at a Dec. 23 hearing in Worcester.
Mr. Nickless said yesterday that an abuse victim who has been given notice or otherwise knows about the bankruptcy proceedings and fails to come forward to report the abuse before the bankruptcy is discharged will be prohibited from bringing claims.
He said he intends to go to the hearing, at 11 a.m. Dec. 23 at 600 Main St., and object to discharge of the bankruptcy because the alleged sexual abuse acts were "willful and malicious actions" and are thus exempt from bankruptcy protection.
He also intends to ask the court to allow Mr. Durso to go forward with the two civil suits in Worcester Superior Court in order to "establish the liability."
The plaintiffs in the suit, using the names Doe, Coe and Roe, allege the incidents occurred during the 1970s and early 1980s, when Rev. Messier was assigned to St. Joan of Arc Church and Sacred Heart Church in Worcester. Rev. Messier had been pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Athol, and St. Peter Church, Petersham, since about 1990.
The petition also shows Rev. Messier has a secured mortgage on the house at 35 Glen Echo Shore Road, Charlton, of $57,481 with the Athol Credit Union and a monthly mortgage payment of $522, which includes taxes. The petition also states that the bulk of the house's worth is exempt from the bankruptcy proceedings. Mr. Nickless said he believes there is a homestead declaration on the house.
Records indicate that Rev. Messier, who was living at the St. Francis of Assisi rectory in Athol until August, had been renting out the Charlton house. He received $6,300 rental income in 2001 and $4,900 rental income in 2002. Records indicate he is owed about $2,100 in back rent. Rev. Messier said that although his monthly income is $1,418, his living expenses total $1,575 a month. The bankruptcy filing indicates that he is still receiving his monthly income.
Assets Rev. Messier lists as protected from bankruptcy include $41 cash in his pocket; $267 in a checking account with a savings bank; $100 in a checking account with the Athol Credit Union. He also listed $202 in the Father Raymond Messier Fund, a fund set up by "concerned parishioners and administered by parishioners to help defray legal and personal expenses," according to court documents.
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