Clergy, Boy Scout Leader Named in Civil Sex Abuse Suit

Associated Press State & Local Wire
December 30, 2004

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A former nun who taught at a Catholic school in Holyoke during the 1970s is one of four clergy members and a Boy Scout leader named in a sex abuse lawsuit filed by five men.

One of the plaintiffs - all of whom filed the suit anonymously under the name John Doe - says he had a two-year sexual relationship with ex-nun Mary Jane Vidnansky. The man says she told him she became pregnant and had an abortion during their relationship. Vidnansky, who was once a member of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, taught at Mater Dolorosa School in Holyoke.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs says she left the order in the mid-1970s.

Attorney Carmen Durso says his client has pictures of Vidnanski that were taken in his bedroom, a lock of her hair and a report card that she signed.

"He ended the relationship when he started to become interested in people his own age," Durso told The Republican newspaper of Springfield. "He said she pursued him. He's really been shattered by the whole experience.

Vidnansky could not be reached for comment by the newspaper. A telephone listing for her could not immediately be found on Thursday.

Also named in the lawsuit filed Wednesday are the Rev. Alfred Graves, former Boy Scout leader Bruce Mooney, the Boy Scouts of America and the Springfield Diocese. Two dead priests - J. Roy Jenness and Thomas O'Connor - are also named in the suit.

The lawsuit alleges the plaintiffs were abused by the priests and Mooney during outings at an unnamed Boy Scout campsite.

Graves has already been removed from active ministry by the diocese and Mooney is no longer a member of the Boy Scouts.

They could not be reached for comment. A telephone listing for Mooney could not immediately be found Thursday and there was no answer at a possible listing for Graves.

Diocesan spokeswoman Laura Failla Reilly would not comment on the lawsuit. She said church lawyers have not yet reviewed it.


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