Jury Rules Teczar Committed Abuse
By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette
October 4, 2002
Worcester - A jury decided yesterday that the Rev. Thomas Teczar sexually abused David A. Lewcon and caused him harm, but it declined to award him any money.
The verdict was reached after 3 p.m. in Worcester Superior Court after a day of deliberation in the civil trial.
"No one won here today," said Louis P. Aloise, a lawyer for Rev. Teczar. The lives of both men were altered, he added. He called the priest abuse scandal that has deeply affected the Catholic church in the United States a "national tragedy" that needs to come to an end.
Michael C. Wilcox, his co- counsel, said the church probably should set up a pool of funds to reimburse victims. Rev. Teczar was advised by his lawyers not to comment on the jury's decision.
Laurence E. Hardoon, lawyer for Mr. Lewcon, said he did not know what to make of the verdict. "They believed him," he said. Mr. Lewcon, stunned by the outcome, said he did not know what to say.
The jury had been asked to determine whether Mr. Lewcon needed to have understood how the alleged abuse harmed him before he started dealing with the issue in 1993. The jury said no.
Mr. Lewcon said his case did not involve repressed memory syndrome because he never forgot what happened to him in 1971 when he was 16. He said he did not understand that he had been harmed by the alleged sexual encounters until 1993 when he saw a television news report about allegations made against the Rev. Thomas A. Kane, former director of the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville.
The jury ruled that Rev. Teczar committed "reckless infliction of emotional distress" on Mr. Lewcon, but judged that it was not intentional. The jury also found that Mr. Lewcon suffered harm as a result of the defendant's conduct.
Mr. Lewcon testified during the trial that Rev. Teczar invited him to his room in St. Mary's rectory, Uxbridge, and gave the teen-ager a back rub, and the encounter ended with mutual masturbation. This happened on two other occasions, at the rectory and at the home of Rev. Teczar's parents in Worcester, he said.
The jury ruled that the reckless infliction of distress by the priest was not a substantial contributing factor in bringing about harm to Mr. Lewcon.
Mr. Aloise said the verdict in the jury trial was strikingly similar to one returned seven years ago when a victim sued the Rev. Ronald Provost, former pastor of St. Joseph's parish in Barre, for harm he suffered after the priest took nude and seminude photographs of him. Mr. Aloise represented Rev. Provost in that suit. He said the only difference between the two was that the issue was negligence and not reckless intention.
The jury sent a question on Tuesday to Judge Peter Velis asking for a definition of reckless intention.
The judge conferred with lawyers for both Mr. Lewcon and Rev. Teczar to agree on the wording before the jury entered the courtroom. He told the jurors that reckless intention had to be more than an accident, mistake, negligence or gross negligence.
Mr. Hardoon noted that a number of the jury members were young and some were middle-aged. He said most or all were college-educated and several held master's degrees.
Kathleen A. Shaw can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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