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  Call about Staney Never Happened, DA Conte Says

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette
March 11, 2003

WORCESTER - District Attorney John J. Conte said yesterday he was not contacted in 1987 by a mental health counselor regarding alleged abuse of Timothy P. Staney.

"I never heard of Timothy Staney until 2002," Mr. Conte said yesterday. He and his staff yesterday checked their 1987 records and found no documentation of such a call.

"It never happened," Mr. Conte said.

In January, the Rev. Steven M. LaBaire gave a deposition in connection with a civil lawsuit filed late last year by Mr. Staney against the Worcester Catholic Diocese and the Rev. Jean-Paul Gagnon, who Mr. Staney alleges sexually abused him as a child when he was a member of Holy Name of Jesus parish.

In the deposition, Rev. LaBaire said he was told by the late Monsignor Raymond Page that Mr. Conte had been notified by the counselor 16 years ago of the alleged sexual abuse of Mr. Staney.

Rev. LaBaire, who is now associate pastor at St. Luke the Evangelist parish in Westboro, said he was told the notification of Mr. Conte precipitated a meeting with the late James G. Reardon, lawyer for the diocese, Rev. LaBaire said.

Mr. Conte said he does not recall exactly how he heard about the allegations being made by Mr. Staney last year, but said no statement has been taken about Mr. Staney by anyone in his office.

Mr. Conte said the counselor would not have fulfilled requirements of the state's mandated reporting law by calling him.

"He would had to have called DSS," he said. The state Department of Social Services would then contact him if officials substantiated the allegation and thought the case warranted prosecution, he said. Rev. LaBaire said in his deposition that he was not contacted by Mr. Conte or anyone from DSS regarding what he told the counselor.

Since Mr. Staney had requested in 1987 that his name not be divulged, it also appears "there was no victim," the district attorney said. Neither he nor DSS could investigate the allegation without the name of the alleged victim, he said.

"It's all hearsay," Mr. Conte said.

Rev. LaBaire related in his deposition what Monsignor Page had told him about the alleged call to the district attorney, Mr. Conte said.

"The rules of depositions in civil suits are not what we operate under in my office. Depositions are pretty free-wheeling," he said.

He noted that Monsignor Page is now deceased and cannot give his version of events. Bishop Timothy J. Harrington, who according to Rev. LaBaire recommended that he see this counselor, has also since died.

Mr. Conte said that any victim who contacts his office is interviewed and a report is made. Information turned over to him involving clergy in active ministry is turned over to the diocese so the priest can be removed, he said.

"It has worked so far," he said.

 
 

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