|Accused Priest in
By Kathleen A. Shaw and Richard Nangle
Telegram & Gazette
February 7, 2002
The Rev. Thomas A. Kane, who left the Catholic Diocese of Worcester in 1993 after he was accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy, has spent the past five years as director of an international training institute for teachers in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Officials in the Worcester Diocese, when questioned in recent years about Rev. Kane's whereabouts, have maintained they didn't know where he was. Rev. Kane was one of more than a dozen priests accused in the 1980s and 1990s of sexually abusing parishioners in the Worcester Diocese. Subsequent lawsuits and, in some cases, criminal charges against priests rocked the diocese, and focused widespread attention on how church authorities investigated and handled allegations involving members of the clergy.
The lawsuit against Rev. Kane was later settled out of court. The settlement includes a provision prohibiting disclosure of details about the agreement.
The priest also was a co-founder and director of the former House of Affirmation in Whitinsville, a treatment and counseling center for priests, including those suspected of sexual abuse. He left the post in 1986 amid allegations of financial improprieties brought by 11 center managers and executives.
The House of Affirmation, which was under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, was closed in 1989.
A lawsuit filed in 1993 by two former altar boys against the Rev. Victor A. Frobas also names Rev. Kane, who oversaw the treatment of Rev. Frobas while he was at the House of Affirmation. Rev. Frobas also was indicted that year by a Worcester County grand jury on several counts of unnatural rape of a child and indecent assault and battery. He died before the lawsuit and the criminal charges could come to court.
After he left the House of Affirmation, Rev. Kane served the Worcester Diocese in several capacities. He was an associate pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Gardner when he left the diocese in 1993.
A Telegram & Gazette reporter on Tuesday called the institute in Guadalajara seeking comment from Rev. Kane. He did return the call and left a message for the reporter, who was on the phone at the time. The reporter quickly called the institute again, but was told the director had become ill and was gone for the day.
Two calls were placed yesterday to the institute. The first time, a reporter was told that Rev. Kane was sick and was not in the office; the second time, the reporter was told Rev. Kane serves as a consultant to the institute and is there only one day a month.
Photographs, various e-mail correspondence and several sources confirmed for the T&G that the Thomas A. Kane who directs the World Wide Teaching Institute in Guadalajara is the same man who was in charge of the House of Affirmation.
A Web site for the World Wide Teachers Institute lists ``Thomas A. Kane, Ph.D.'' as director of the program. Rev. Kane's resume is included on the Web site, but makes no reference to his work or status as a priest.
Rev. Kane's name still appears in the Worcester Diocese's official directory of priests, which lists his address as the Chancery building in Worcester.
Diocesan spokesman Raymond L. DeLisle said Rev. Kane remains a priest and is in the directory because his last clerical attachment was to the Worcester Diocese. If Rev. Kane applies for a clergy position elsewhere, anyone checking his credentials would have to call the Worcester Diocese, Mr. Delisle said.
The spokesman said Rev. Kane has not been defrocked, but cannot administer sacraments or celebrate Mass, and receives no pay from the diocese. Mr. Delisle said he did not know Rev. Kane has been living and working in Mexico.
The Web site for the World Wide Teachers Institute describes Rev. Kane as an authority on teaching English abroad. His biography states that he holds an American doctorate, a British diploma and three honorary doctorates from American universities. It also notes that he is an appointed scholar at Harvard University and author of a book on teaching English around the world.
The World Wide Teachers Institute is certified by the Massachusetts Department of Education. The DOE Web site contains a link to the institute's Web site, www.eltschools.com.
Daniel J. Shea, a lawyer in Houston who has represented alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests, told the T&G this week that he met Rev. Kane after Mr. Shea became a deacon in the Catholic church and was studying for the priesthood in Providence in the early 1970s.
Mr. Shea said that then-Monsignor Daniel P. Reilly, who was chancellor of the Providence Diocese at the time and now is bishop of the Worcester Diocese, recommended that Mr. Shea go to the House of Affirmation in 1974 because he had a problem with ``authority.''
Mr. Shea said he came to know Rev. Kane in Whitinsville and has corresponded with him recently via e-mail.
When allegations surfaced in the 1980s of fiscal mismanagement at the House of Affirmation, Worcester lawyer Samuel R. DeSimone was retained by the diocese to investigate. Mr. DeSimone concluded there was evidence that Rev. Kane had spent House of Affirmation funds for purchases that in some cases went to buy personal property. At the time, Rev. Kane had acquired real estate holdings in Massachusetts, Florida and Maine.
Mr. DeSimone declined to provide specifics on his findings. Rev. Kane paid an undisclosed sum to the House of Affirmation in an out-of-court settlement that included a provision prohibiting disclosure of its details.
Rev. Kane's real estate holdings included one house each in Upton and Whitinsville, an inn and a farm in Maine, three condominiums in Boston, two condominiums in Florida and an interest in trusts that owned other Boston properties.
In 1993, Rev. Kane was accused of sexual abuse in a lawsuit filed by Mark D. Barry of Uxbridge. That suit also was settled out of court with a nondisclosure provision.
Mr. Barry's suit maintained that in the summer of 1968, Rev. Kane, then a visiting priest at St. Mary's Church in Uxbridge, took him to a cottage in Upton and sexually abused him. Mr. Barry was 9 years old at the time.
His suit contended that the abuse in Upton was the first of dozens of sexual encounters between the two that occurred at the House of Affirmation, at St. Mary's Church and elsewhere. It stated that Rev. Kane plied the boy with liquor, and gave him expensive gifts and money.
The lawsuit described the abuse as becoming more bizarre over the years, with the gifts and money escalating. Mr. Barry said he was taken to rural retreats, where Rev. Kane offered him to other priests to have sex with.
The lawsuit described Rev. Kane as a voyeur who offered the boy money to have sex with other men. It stated that Rev. Kane would watch and sometimes take photographs of those encounters.
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