Dupre Accusers Tell Lurid Tale
Allege Ex-Bishop Introduced Them to Gay Sex, Porn

By Bea O'Quinn Dewberry
[Springfield MA] Republican
February 20, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - A little more than a week after Bishop Thomas L. Dupre resigned amid sexual abuse allegations brought forward by The Republican, his two alleged victims broke their silence last night to provide lurid details of sexual assaults they said began when they were 12 and 13 years old.

The former Catholic bishop of Springfield introduced the two boys, one of whom was a 12-year-old refugee, to homosexual sex and gay pornography after taking one under his wing when he was a parish priest about 28 years ago, the men said last night.

The two men, one aged 40 and the other 39, issued a statement through their lawyer detailing the alleged abuse. One of the men, who is now gay, said he was moved to anger after the Roman Catholic Church and Dupre began a crusade against gay marriage in Massachusetts.

Dupre, 70, checked himself into an undisclosed medical center and retired within a day of being confronted with questions about the allegations by The Republican last week.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., a lawyer for the men, said the bishop is being treated at St. Luke's Institute in Silver Spring, Md., which is known for treating pedophile priests. This could not be confirmed last night.

Dupre, who cited a heart condition in his retirement announcement, has yet to address the charges. His lawyer, Michael O. Jennings, a Springfield criminal defense attorney, said he had no comment last night.

The men said they were moved to act only after The Republican made the allegations public. They said they wanted the information to be in their "own words."

Neither of the men spoke to the newspaper, which received the information through an anonymous tip. The newspaper interviewed the mother of one of the men, who said she had confirmed the allegations and asked her son unsuccessfully last year to press charges.

In the account, the law firm, Greenberg Traurig of Boston, says that one of the men was a refugee who came with many members of his family to this country in 1975. The boy's father was unable to come with the family, which was ultimately sponsored by a parish in the Springfield area, and lived for a time in a convent.

"One of the priests in the parish was then Father Thomas Dupre, who befriended our client and offered to teach him English. Our client was 12 years old. The abuse started when Bishop Dupre took our client's hand and proceeded to masturbate himself with our client's hand."

The statement says that the abuse progressed to sodomy, which continued until the alleged victim, an altar boy, started dating a girl in high school.

The second man, also an altar boy, lost his father at a young age, and the abuse continued after his loss, according to the statement.

The former bishop was in his early 40s at the time, according to the men.

Monsignor Richard S. Sniezyk, interim administrator of the diocese, said he was shocked by the allegations.

"There was no indication that Bishop Dupre was involved in such kind of activity," he said. "It comes as a shock and stunner. If he was indeed engaged in such things; if that's proven to be true."

The statement also said the former bishop took one boy on various out-of-state trips, including to Canada.

"Our client was sexually abused in all of these locations. He was taken to Connecticut to purchase gay pornography," the statement said.

The men's statement said the first alleged victim showed the gay pornography to a friend, an adolescent who was attending a Catholic school.

"Bishop Dupre then started abusing both children," the statement said. "The abuse of our second client continued until he was approximately 20."

At times, the statement said, the former bishop abused the two boys together. When one expressed concern about the abuse, Dupre told them that "the alternative was a promiscuous gay lifestyle involving bathhouses," according to the statement. "Bishop Dupre would show our second client pictures of people dying of AIDS, stating that if he had sex with others, he could become infected and die. Our client was frightened by these comments."

The statement also said Dupre gave the boys wine and cognac before the abuse, and showed them pornography he kept in his briefcase.

"Both of our clients maintained contact with Bishop Dupre following the abuse. He informed them that their 'relationship' was a logical expression of love, and that God teaches love. Our second client lost his father several years after he first met Bishop Dupre. The abuse continued without interruption after the death of our second client's father."

The men also said that Dupre called them before he was to be named auxiliary bishop in 1990, and told them he would not accept the appointment unless they remained quiet. Both told him they would not speak of the abuse.

The Republican had learned many details of the allegations but did not report them at the request of one of the families and MacLeish, who were trying to protect the men's identities. The newspaper has a policy of not identifying alleged sexual abuse victims.

The mother also told The Republican that she sent an angry letter to the bishop about the alleged abuse last year. A few weeks later, he told The Republican that health problems might force him to resign earlier than the mandatory age of 75.

The Rev. Daniel P. Liston, chancellor of the diocese, searched Dupre's files but found no letter or other communication to the bishop citing accusations of abuse, Sniezyk said.

The men said that they were forced to make the statements to ensure accuracy because of the dissemination of information in the community. The statement says that Dupre maintained contact with both men, sending cards on holidays or birthdays, and sometimes including money.

However, the men said they never sought money as a condition of silence.

"At no time was any money sought by either of our clients as a condition of silence," the statement said.

The statement said the men grew up believing that Dupre cared for them, and only recently realized they were preyed upon.

The second man started to understand through a therapist last year that the relationship was abusive, the statement said.

"He then sought out and met with Bishop Dupre at a restaurant called the Publick House in Sturbridge, Mass., and informed Bishop Dupre that he had never wanted the sexual relations (which had always been initiated by Bishop Dupre) to take place," the statement said. "Bishop Dupre responded by stating, in an unemotional way, that he was sorry and that he did not realize that our client did not want sexual relations. He stated that he wanted to remain friends with our clients for the rest of their lives."

The meeting was interrupted when two women came over to the table and introduced themselves to the bishop, the statement said.

The Hampden County district attorney is conducting an investigation into the allegations, and the men are working with the Boston Archdiocese.

MacLeish said he is awaiting word from the Boston Archdiocese to schedule a meeting with the Review Board next week.

One of the men lives in California, thereby requiring a video-conference with the archdiocese, MacLeish said.

The other also lives out of state.

The statement said the men are receiving assistance from a therapist, which the Springfield Diocese is paying for. The statement said the men are grateful to the diocese for that assistance and to The Republican for not publishing their names.

The alleged abuse follows a pattern present in many other such cases nationwide in which priests have preyed on boys who lost their fathers at a young age.

David G. Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the immigrant boy, who did not speak English, may have been even more trusting of the priest as a person of authority and reverence because of the family's unique needs.

"I don't want to characterize or rank pain, but this is particularly tragic because the power differential is incalculable," Clohessy said. "The child coming from overseas is perhaps more emotionally vulnerable and economically vulnerable seeking solace and help."

The Rev. James J. Scahill, pastor of St. Michael's Church in East Longmeadow, counseled one of the alleged victims and his mother. He said that by coming forward the men have taken their first step toward healing from years of self-blame and hurt.

"They are taking control of a terrible circumstance that has affected their youth and infected their lives to this day," he said. "The only way they'll ever have an opportunity for a free functional life is to talk about this tremendous dysfunction on the part of the abuser."

Scahill said he was saddened and "sickened" by the details of the allegations, some of which he had not known.

Scahill's parish has been withholding for a year and a half 6 percent of its weekly collections, usually earmarked for the bishop's office, in protest of Dupre's handling of priest sex abuse cases and the diocese's financial support of convicted child molester Richard Lavigne, a recently defrocked priest.

Lavigne also is the only suspect in the unsolved 1972 slaying of 13-year-old Springfield altar boy Daniel Croteau.

The statement issued on behalf of the men spoke of their respect for the Catholic faith and how it led to an ultimate betrayal of trust.

"Our clients were both altar boys, and were fully immersed in a Catholic environment," the statement said. "They regarded priests and bishops as reverent and ultimate authority figures, who were close to God."


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