Franciscan Brother Charged with Child Abuse, a Day after Dropped Charges

Associated Press State & Local Wire
February 6, 2003

A member of a Roman Catholic religious order was arraigned Thursday on 11 new counts of lascivious and unnatural acts and indecent assault and battery on a child, a day after 19 indictments against him were dropped, prosecutors said.

Franciscan brother Fidelis DeBerardinis, 75, pleaded innocent in Suffolk Superior Court to the alleged molestation of three boys in an East Boston church, and was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail. Clerk-Magistrate Gary Wilson also ordered DeBerardinis to surrender his passport and have no unsupervised contact with children.

On Wednesday, prosecutors dropped five charges of rape of a child and four charges of assault with attempt to rape a child because neither law applied to assaults on boys when the crimes allegedly occurred between 1968 and 1973 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Boston.

Ten additional counts were thrown out because the grand jury hadn't been told whether the boys, in every case, had consented to the sexual conduct, as required by law.

Thursday's indictments stem from the same allegations as the original indictments but are charged under laws that existed at the time of the alleged crimes, prosecutors said.

DeBerardinis, who most recently lived in Clearwater Beach, Fla., will be allowed to live in a friary in New York for health reasons while awaiting trial, Wilson said.

DeBerardinis, who has been a Franciscan for 40 years, is not a priest and was never under the supervision of the Boston Archdiocese. He was assigned to the Boston church and was under the supervision of his order.


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