Holy Name Requests Information on Abuse
Letter Sent to School Alumni, Parents
By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
February 18, 2003
WORCESTER- Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School has sent a letter to alumni and parents of current students asking that any students who may have been sexually abused by the Rev. Donald J. Rebokus and the Rev. Norman Jalbert contact either the Office for Healing and Prevention or District Attorney John J. Conte.
Three graduates of the school have recently spoken publicly about their alleged abuse years ago by the two priests, both of whom are now dead. Rev. Robokus was headmaster at the time he allegedly sexually abused Bryan Smith of Hubbardston and Rev. Jalbert was guidance counselor when he allegedly raped Raymond Plante Jr. of Worcester. Craig Lacaire, now of Fiskdale, which is part of Sturbridge, said late last week he was sexually assaulted by Rev. Jalbert while the priest was his guidance counselor.
Mr. Smith is a leader of the new Worcester-Fitchburg area Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests chapters. Mr. Smith said he received a copy of the letter, but Mr. Plante said he did not get one.
The incidents involving Mr. Smith happened in Rev. Rebokus' apartment on school grounds and later at St. Mary's rectory, Uxbridge, according to Mr. Smith. The alleged sexual abuse by Rev. Jalbert occurred off school property at a camp he owned in Spencer, the men said.
In the letter signed by Headmaster Mary E. Riordan and Charles E. McManus, Catholic schools superintendent, they said the school family was "shocked by the recent reports of allegations of sexual abuse of students some decades ago by two former priests at the school." Mr. McManus is a former headmaster there.
"Please remember all those who have been hurt by the horrific actions of abuse and who continue to seek healing," they said in the letter.
Mr. Plante said Mr. McManus was headmaster at the time he was raped by Rev. Jalbert. Mr. Plante said he did not report the abuse to Mr. McManus, although he tried a couple of times, and did come close once to confiding in Mr. McManus.
Mr. Plante said he wrote some threatening notes to Mr. McManus, not because he intended him harm but because he wanted to get alone with him so he could tell him about Rev. Jalbert.
During another attempt, he sat on a bench outside Mr. McManus' office.
Mr. McManus called police about the threatening notes and Mr. Plante met with the headmaster and police. Before he could tell his story, he was taken into a room with Rev. Jalbert. Rev. Jalbert told Mr. McManus and the police officer that he would deal with the issue from then on. Mr. Plante was never charged in connection with the incident and never got a chance to tell the headmaster, he said.
Mr. Plante said he finally reported the abuse to Mr. McManus several months ago and Mr. McManus requested his permission to report it to the bishop. He said he gave permission and it was reported.
In the letter, Ms. Riordan and Mr. McManus said they wanted to "underscore" their commitment to the safety of the students. They noted the school follows the diocesan policy on prevention of sexual abuse and all teachers, administrators, staff and volunteers are subject to Criminal Offender Record Information checks.
They said they are mandated reporters under the laws of Massachusetts and are working with the state Department of Social Services, local and state police in reporting incidents of abuse of minors.
"The safety of your child is of paramount importance as we carry out our responsibilities in the formation of our students," they said.
"Some of you may have been students at the time these abuses are alleged to have occurred," they said. They asked that those with questions or concerns "about something in the past" contact the diocesan Office for Healing and Prevention at (508) 929-4362 or Mr. Conte's office at (508) 755-8601.
Mr. Conte said last week he received a list of names of accused priests from the diocese several months ago but has discarded and will not investigate allegations involving dead priests because there can be no prosecution in these cases.
Mr. Plante has received services through the Office of Healing and Prevention, while Mr. Smith and Mr. Lacaire said they have not. Two other priests, who have been accused of sexual abuse, were also on the faculty during that same era, Mr. Plante said.
According to Telegram & Gazette records, Rev. Jalbert, who was ordained in 1963, was named to the faculty of Holy Name in 1971 and served until 1984, when he became headmaster at Marianhill High School in Southbridge. He held previous assignments at Sacred Heart in Webster, St. Joseph in North Brookfield, and Notre Dame and St. Joseph parishes in Worcester. He was also on the faculty of St. Stephen in Worcester.
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