Accused Priest Came to Norwich with His Bosses' Recommendation

By Kenton Robinson
The Day [New London CT]
January 16, 2003

Norwich - A Jesuit priest, accused of sexually molesting a student in Boston prior to serving nine years in the Norwich Diocese, came recommended by his superiors, a diocese spokeswoman said this week. The Rev. Francis J. McManus, whose accuser is to be paid $600,000 in a settlement reached last week, served as chaplain at St. Bernard High School in Montville from Aug. 1, 1982 to Aug. 14, 1983, and then as pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Norwich until he was transferred to Fall River, Mass., on June 2, 1991, said spokeswoman Jacqueline Keller.

The Norwich Diocese neither received nor knew about any allegations of abuse made against McManus during his nine-year tenure here, Keller said.

"If there had been, they would have been acted on and they would have been reported to the New London County state's attorney and the state Department of Children and Families," Keller said.

A former student at Boston College High School said McManus had sexually molested him in the late 1970s and early '80s.

The victim's name was unavailable.

The diocese has had a written policy for handling complaints of sexual abuse since May 1994, Keller said, but if there had been any complaints prior to that, they would have been reported to authorities.

As a member of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit order, McManus served under the authority of the society, Keller said.

"When someone is a member of a religious community, they belong to their community," she said. "Their superior can recommend their appointment to a diocese when there is a need for a priest in a diocese."

McManus, she said, came with the recommendation of the society that he was in good standing with his religious community, that his superior could vouch for his spirituality and that he had the credentials to do the job.

"It's a very formal letter," Keller said. "He vouches for the good character of that priest."

The Jesuits took over pastoral care in the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in 1983, and it is still under their care, currently presided over by the Rev. Philip A. Pusateri, SJ, pastor, and the Rev. John D'Anjou, the parochial vicar.

In Boston, McManus was part of a larger settlement involving 14 men who will receive about $5.2 million to settle claims against the Rev. James Talbot, another Jesuit priest who they say molested them.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., the lawyer who represented the victims in the case, did not return phone calls for comment.

Roy F. Dado, the principal of St. Bernard did not return a call for comment.

The secretary at Boston offices of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus said Tuesday there was no one in the office available to comment on the case.


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