Advocates calling on Springfield Diocese to release “secret archives”

WGGB - WesternMassNews [Springfield MA]

May 24, 2021

By Lindsey Kane and Amanda Callahan

A long-awaited update to a murder investigation some thought would never come.

The Hampden District attorney claims he knows who killed 13-year-old Danny Croteau all those years ago, but now defrocked priest Richard Lavigne died while the arrest warrant was being written up.

While this chapter has finally closed, advocates are claiming there’s more to this story and they want to get to the bottom of it.

The founder of Road to Recovery, an organization that helps victims of sexual abuse said he wants answers as to why Danny Croteau’s murder took nearly 50 years to solve.

“Release all the documents let us see the documents,” Road to Recovery President Dr. Robert Hoatson said.

After nearly 50 years, the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office said the investigation into the 1972 death of an altar boy, Danny Croteau is closed.

Former priest Richard Lavigne was named a suspect in the case but was never charged. He died on Friday, the same day an arrest warrant was being compiled.

“Years of his family feeling the grief and sadness it must’ve been a great relief to a certain extent,” Dr. Hoatson said.

Dr. Hoatson, former priest and co-founder of Road to Recovery, an organization that helps victims of sexual abuse, said he wants District Attorney Anthony Gulluni to continue to seek answers.

“I hope he’s going to continue to look at the Diocese of Springfield to find out why for 49 years we couldn’t get to the bottom of this,” Dr. Hoatson said.

On Tuesday, a group of demonstrators is set to gather and demand the Diocese of Springfield release what they allege are secret archives about Fr. Lavigne, claiming the Diocese worked to cover up information.

“What did they hide? What did they put aside? Who did they protect, and we know that that has gone on, and we want the truth to come out,” Dr. Hoatson said.

We reached out to the Diocese who declined to comment specifically on the organization’s demands but said in part, “ It is incredibly disheartening to learn that a priest, a person ordained to care for God’s people, would have committed such an evil crime and then not taken responsibility for his actions. This is all totally contrary to the teachings that we as Catholics believe in and hold sacred.”

While the murder case may be closed, Dr. Hoatson claims there’s still more to the story.

“People deserve to know the truth until the church is totally transparent we will never be able to trust what they say,” Dr. Hoatson explained.

Demonstrators will be across from the Diocese Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. to make their message heard.