Settlement Reached in Abuse Claims

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
November 27, 2002

The Diocese of Manchester will pay 62 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse more than $5 million, the second private settlement reached by the church in just over a month.

The settlement – announced Tuesday at the diocese’s Manchester chancery – ends the alleged victims’ legal claims against 28 priests, 11 of whom once served parishes in the Nashua area, and a brother who had taught at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua.

Peter Hutchins, a Manchester attorney who represents the 62 people, would not detail individual settlement amounts from the $5,074,000 package.

But all 62, who claim they suffered abuse as minors, will have enough money for counseling, a significant purchase and donations to charitable organizations that help children, the attorney said. One person will support Catholic Charities, he said.

“We achieved what we hoped to achieve from the beginning: the New Hampshire solution,” Hutchins said. “I’m very pleased that we were able to accomplish a settlement of this magnitude without the need to resort to litigation, with all of the potential harm to victims.”

That New Hampshire solution contrasts with negotiations seen with other Catholic dioceses, Hutchins said. He and his clients did not encounter resistance from the Diocese of Manchester in their six months of negotiations, either through lengthy legal procedures or a refusal to accept victims’ claims, the attorney said.

Some victims made claims in the past month, and because of the timing of negotiations, gained closure in just a matter of days, Hutchins said. He has four more open claims that he hopes to settle in the same fashion.

Striking the same tone as attorney Chuck Douglas – who reached a $950,000 settlement with the diocese last month for 16 men – Hutchins applauded Bishop John McCormack and diocesan officials for striving to end negotiations so the alleged victims could start the healing process outside the glare of the media.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, the diocesan delegate to the bishop for sexual misconduct, called the settlement only the beginning of a difficult process for the alleged victims, who upon their request will have their names and claims of abuse kept confidential.

“Today is a significant day in the lives of many people who reported being abused, and in the life of our church, as we help these people move forward to greater healing of painful events and memories,” Arsenault said.

Another attorney, however, has broken off talks with the diocese, blaming church officials for a lack of cooperation. That lawyer, Mark Abramson, is instead preparing for a trial on behalf of about 60 alleged victims.

To meet the $5 million payment, the diocese’s insurer will provide $2 million, while $900,000 will come from a diocesan insurance fund reserved for unanticipated expenses, with the remaining $2,174,000 coming from a savings account.

As with last month’s agreement, Arsenault stressed that no parish, school or institutional funds were used in the settlement.

The $2,174,000 represents a considerable sum from the savings account, Arsenault said, although he would not detail the exact percentage.

All 62 people experienced physical contact by clergy, from grabbing over clothing to sodomy, Hutchins said. The abuse occurred at churches and the Catholic camps Fatima and Bernadette, and most of the incidents occurred before 1979, he said.

None of the 28 priests still has permission to function in ministry, Arsenault said. The claims also involved two laypersons, who also no longer have any function with the diocese, Arsenault said.

Eleven of the priests at one time served parishes in the Nashua area, while Brother Guy Beaulieu taught at Bishop Guertin until 1991. Beaulieu belonged to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the Rhode Island-based religious order that owns the high school, and also worked at Camp Fatima.

The priests include:
-- Albion Bulger, who served St. Kathryn Church in Hudson from 1969 to 1975, and Parish of the Resurrection in Nashua from 1991 to 2001.
-- Karl Dowd, who served St. Christopher Church in Nashua from 1986 to 2000, and St. Stanislaus Church in Nashua from 1999 to 2000. He was also director of Camp Fatima and Camp Bernadette. He died in February.
-- Paul Aube, who served St. Louis de Gonzague Church in Nashua in 1975.
-- Albert Boulanger, who served St. Joseph Church in Nashua from 1970 to 1971.
-- Gerard Chalifour, who served Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Greenville from 1960 to 1961 and St. Kathryn Church in 1968.
-- Ronald Corriveau, who served St. Joseph Church in 1977, St. Christopher Church in 1984, and St. Louis de Gonzague in 1985.
-- Robert Densmore, who served St. Christopher Church in 1986.
-- Alfred Janetta, who served Our Lady of Mercy Church in Merrimack in the 1970s.
-- Francis Lamothe, who served Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in the 1960s. He died in 1995.
-- Joseph Maguire, who lived at the rectory of St. John the Evangelist Church in Hudson in 1973.
-- Stephen Scruton, who served St. Kathryn from 1972 to 1973 and St. John the Evangelist from 1980 to 1983.


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