Judge: Lawsuit against former Fall River Diocese Bishop Cronin can proceed

The Herald News

March 29, 2018

By Brian Fraga

A judge is allowing a trial to proceed against former Fall River Bishop Daniel A. Cronin, who was sued three years ago for his alleged failure to supervise a priest who is accused of molesting two boy altar servers in the 1970s and 1980s.

In his ruling on Cronin’s motion for a summary judgement, dated March 5, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Maynard Kirplani said a jury should decide the case because questions remain as to whether Cronin should have been suspicious of and investigated the late Monsignor Maurice Souza for spending a lot of time away from his parish on the Cape and going on road trips with adolescent boys.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents the plaintiffs, said the judge’s decision is significant because it says the former bishop “had an obligation to supervise in a reasonable manner” to determine whether Souza violated the Catholic Church’s rules regulating priests’ vacations and prohibiting lay people from staying in a rectory. Garabedian said those concerns could have triggered an inquiry in to Souza’s behavior.

“Bishop Cronin could therefore be found by a jury to be negligent even though it has not been shown that Bishop Cronin had prior notice of Monsignor Souza sexually abusing the plaintiffs,” said Garabedian, who has represented dozens of victims of clergy sex abuse.

Garabedian said Kirplani’s ruling “helps hold supervisors accountable which helps victims try to heal and it helps protect children.”

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