Rev. Szantyr to Be Arraigned July 18

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette [Massachusetts]
June 21, 2003

Worcester — The Rev. John J. Szantyr, 72, who served in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester during the 1980s, faces three charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and is to be arraigned July 18 in Central District Court, according to District Attorney John J. Conte.

Mr. Conte also announced yesterday that he has applied for misdemeanor criminal assault and battery complaints against Brother Lewis Laperle, 75, a former teacher at Notre Dame Academy in Fitchburg. A show-cause hearing for him is scheduled for July 23 in Fitchburg District Court.

The charges were brought against Rev. Szantyr and the application for criminal complaints was filed against Brother Laperle on Thursday, Mr. Conte said.

Rev. Szantyr was assigned to Our Lady of Czestochowa parish, Worcester, when the alleged incidents happened in the 1980s. The three charges involve a single male victim, Mr. Conte said. He said that Rev. Szantyr was located in Waterbury, Conn., his hometown.

Formerly a priest of the Marian Order of the Immaculate Conception, Rev. Szantyr entered the Worcester diocese in 1980 and was assigned to Our Lady Immaculate parish, Athol, where he celebrated his 25th anniversary of ordination in 1982.

The district attorney is not revealing the name of the alleged victim.

However, Richard Chesnis of Worcester said several months ago that, after he went to the Worcester police station about 15 years ago to report an allegation that Rev. Szantyr had sexually abused a member of his family, Rev. Szantyr disappeared from Worcester. Mr. Chesnis has been vocal about the alleged abuse and has shown up in front of St. Paul's Cathedral and other locations in the city with a bullhorn.

Mr. Chesnis said he was dissuaded from filing criminal charges then against Rev. Szantyr by the late Bishop Timothy J. Harrington and the former pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa, because Rev. Szantyr had been removed from priesthood and would have no contact with young people.

The district attorney also did not reveal the name of the alleged victim of Brother Laperle. He said the incidents happened between Jan. 1, 1968, and June 30, 1968, when Brother Laperle was teaching at Notre Dame Academy. Brother Laperle was located in Pascoag, R.I.

The district attorney said Brother Laperle can only be charged with offenses that were in effect in Massachusetts in 1968. The charge of indecent assault and battery did not exist at the time, he said. Since the three assault and battery charges are misdemeanors, Brother Leperle has a right to a show-cause hearing before the clerk of the Fitchburg District Court.

Rev. Santyr and Brother Laperle are among 34 priests or religious in the Worcester Diocese who have been the subjects of public allegations of misconduct in recent years.

Bishop Daniel P. Reilly recently received the resignations of five pastors whom he had removed from their parishes last year after misconduct allegations were made against them. This clears the way for him to appoint permanent pastors to those parishes.

At least 13 civil lawsuits are pending, most of them in Worcester Superior Court.

The trial of the Rev. Robert E. Kelley, who is charged with sexually abusing a girl in Leominster in the 1980s, is scheduled for July 21 in Worcester Superior Court.


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