Priest's Removal Shocks Parish
He's Accused of Misconduct in Suit by Students of Deaf School
By Dan Deleo
Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)
August 23, 2004
The Patriot Ledger WEYMOUTH - Parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Church say they are shocked by a Boston Archdiocese decision to indefinitely remove the Rev. Charles J. Murphy while charges of sexual misconduct against him are investigated.
The Rev. Murphy, 70, has served nine years as priest in residence at the Pleasant Street church.
"I have to absolutely believe that it's not true," said Joyce O'Neil, who has been a parishioner at St. Francis for 18 years. "I believe he's innocent 100 percent, and I'm devastated. He's a good man. ... I'm dumbstruck."
In May, he was named in a suit brought by former students of the Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph. The suit alleges sexual and physical abuse by nuns, administrators and priests at the now-shuttered school, which operated from 1944 to 1977.
The Rev. Murphy, who was ordained in 1960, served nearly 20 years as the director of counseling at the school.
The allegation against him stems from events 25 years ago, the archdiocese said in a statement.
Yesterday, many parishioners learned of the Rev. Murphy's removal when they showed up for Mass. The Rev. Eugene Sullivan, the pastor, read notification of the removal from the archdiocese and a letter from the Rev. Murphy, who has maintained his innocence since the Boston School for the Deaf scandal broke three months ago.
The Rev. Sullivan said it was a difficult day for his parish.
"Everyone in the parish is shocked, heartbroken really," he said. "Father Murphy has worked in prisons, cities, the suburbs - and he is an outstanding priest with outstanding service. This just doesn't fit him."
The civil lawsuit alleges that the Rev. Murphy engaged in sexually offensive conduct with a female student.
John Creed of Kingston, a former Catholic priest who served 14 months in the mid-1960s with the Rev. Murphy at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Revere, said he was struck by his counterpart's dedication and faith. "I found Charlie to be nothing but a hard-working person who was dedicated to people," Creed said. "It is difficult for me to believe any misconduct by him in any shape or form."
David Queenan, a longtime parishioner at St. Francis, agreed.
"I think it's a witch hunt," he said. "I believe people were abused at that school, but they're pointing their fingers at everyone who worked there."
The Rev. Murphy, who is hearing-impaired, served as St. Francis Xavier's apostolate for the deaf.
In addition to serving as priest in residence at St. Francis Xavier, he also was a part-time chaplain at Norfolk State Prison. It is unclear if he has been removed from his job at the prison, too.
He is currently staying with his family.
He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"He is in the twilight years of his priesthood," said the Rev. Sullivan. "To have this come on top of it - it's sad, really."
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