Boston archdiocese settles six clergy sex abuse claims

Boston Herald [Boston MA]

July 28, 2021

By Marie Szaniszlo

The Boston Archdiocese settled claims last month by six men who alleged they were sexually abused by clergy years ago.

The alleged abuse occurred from approximately 1966 to 1990, when the alleged victims were about 7 to 14 years old, their attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said.

“By reporting the sexual abuse, clergy sexual abuse victims are empowering themselves and other victims, and expressing an important need to protect innocent children,” he said.

The archdiocese settled the claims “in the high five figures,” Garabedian said.

The six accused clergy and the parishes where the alleged abuse took place, according to Garabedian, are:

  • Deacon William “Bill” Emerson, St. William’s Church, Tewksbury. Emerson was accused of sexually abusing a boy in the church basement at least 100 times from about 1973 to 1978, when the boy was approximately 8 to 13 years old. Emerson died in 2018.
  • Monsignor James Haddad, St. Eulalia Church, Winchester. Haddad was accused of sexually abusing a boy at least four times from approximately 1976 to 1977, when the boy was about 13 to 14 years old. Haddad died in 2007.
  • The Rev. Paul McCarthy, St. Catherine of Siena Church, Norwood. McCarthy was accused of sexually abusing a boy at least twice from about 1989 to 1990 when the boy was approximately 11 to 12 years old. “McCarthy has been AWOL since 2005,” Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said in an email.
  • The Rev. Paul J. McLaughlin, St. John the Evangelist Church, Swampscott. McLaughlin was accused of sexually abusing a boy at least 10 times from approximately 1967 to 1969, when the boy was about 8 to 10 years old. “McLaughlin has been suspended and out of ministry since 2001,” Donilon said.
  • The Rev. Francis E. O’Brien Jr., Christ the King Church, Hudson. O’Brien was accused of sexually abusing a boy at least 14 times from about 1966 to 1971, when the boy was approximately 7 to 12 years old. The sexual abuse took in the church and the parish grammar school. O’Brien died in 2008.
  • The Rev. Bernard L. Sullivan, St. Catherine of Genoa Church, Somerville. Sullivan was accused of sexually abusing an altar boy at least six times from approximately 1970 to 1973, when the boy was about 10 to 13 years old. Sullivan died in 1985.

Garabedian filed complaints in all of the cases except McLaughlin because the statute of limitations had expired. Massachusetts law allows sexual abuse victims up to the age of 53 to sue perpetrators, and up to seven years — from the time they first realize they were harmed by the abuse — to sue the abuser’s supervisor or institution.

“As a general practice, we do not comment on litigation,” Donilon said, “and we defer to plaintiffs’ attorneys to discuss any potential settlements.”