Priest, Bishops Named in Suit
4th Abuse Case for O'Donoghue
By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette
June 29, 2004
BODY - Daniel W. Cronin, now a resident of Los Angeles, filed suit in Worcester Superior Court alleging he was sexually abused by the Rev. Brendan E. O'Donoghue when he was an 8-year-old altar boy at St. Peter Church.
The suit, which was filed May 13, also names the late Cardinal John J. Wright, first Worcester bishop, and the estate of the late Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan for failing to properly supervise Rev. O'Donoghue.
Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger is also named in the suit, but only in his capacity as executor of Bishop Flanagan's estate; there are no allegations of wrongdoing on his part.
James Gavin Reardon Jr., lawyer for the Catholic Diocese of Worcester, said yesterday the diocese has not been served and he has not seen the suit. Should the diocese get notice of the suit, an appropriate response will be made.
Mr. Reardon said that, based on the naming of Cardinal Wright and Bishop Flanagan, it looks like the allegations are "historic" and go back many years.
Mr. Cronin, represented by lawyer John J. St. Andre of Framingham, said in court documents he was molested by Rev. O'Donoghue at the altar of St. Peter Church in Worcester, and at the home of Rev. O'Donoghue's mother in Worcester.
Mr. Cronin says in the suit that he had trusted Rev. O'Donoghue "as a priest and friend."
The suit says as a result of this molestation he has suffered emotionally for more than 40 years and has depression, difficulties with trust and intimacy, difficulty in developing relationships with women, and difficulty with substance abuse and religion.
Rev. O'Donoghue, who was ordained here in 1950 by then-Bishop Wright, grew up in Worcester, son of Mr. and Mrs. William O'Donoghue. Bishop Wright served here until 1959 when he transferred to Pittsburgh. He later was assigned to Rome and died there in 1979 as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Clergy. Bishop Flanagan became Worcester's second bishop in 1959 and served until retiring in 1983. He died here in 1998.
Rev. O'Donoghue was transferred from St. Christopher Church in Worcester in August 1960 to St. Peter Church in Worcester. He served at St. Peter until August 1963 when he was moved to St. Ann Church in North Oxford.
This is the fourth known lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by Rev. O'Donoghue, 81, who is now retired and living at Southgate in Shrewsbury.
Craig Lacaire of Spencer filed a suit in 2002 alleging that he was raped by Rev. O'Donoghue when he was an altar boy between 1976 and 1978 at Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Spencer. The suit was later dismissed because of statute of limitation issues.
Edward Gagne of Spencer filed a suit in 1995, alleging he was sexually abused by Rev. O'Donoghue at the Spencer parish in 1978, where he also was an altar boy. An out-of-court monetary settlement was reached.
Robert King of Worcester in 1999 filed a suit alleging he was sexually abused by Rev. O'Donoghue in 1962 when he was still at St. Peter parish. That suit was also settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Rev. O'Donoghue was ordained in 1950 and assigned to Our Lady Immaculate in Athol. He was moved to St. Leo in Leominster less than a year later.
His assignments took him to St. Paul Cathedral in 1952, St. Bridget, Millbury, and St. Martin in Otter River by 1955. Within months, he was reassigned to St. Bernard in Fitchburg, and then to St. Christopher in Worcester in 1960.
Within the same year, he was reassigned to St. Peter in Worcester. The priest was assigned in 1963 to St. Ann in North Oxford, but went to St. Philip of Grafton the following year, then on to St. Mary Church of Milford the year after that.
He served at St. Therese in Harvard from 1969 to 1975 and then was sent to Our Lady of the Rosary in Spencer from 1976 to 1979.
During his time in Spencer, he spent several months on leave before being sent to St. Peter Church in Petersham, where he served from 1979 to 1984. He retired in 1984 from St. Matthew Church in Southboro.
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