Lynn Native Among Six Latest Priests Defrocked by Vatican

By Jill Casey
Lynn Daily Item [Boston MA]
June 10, 2005

BOSTON - A Lynn native, accused of sexually abusing a child in the 1970s, was among a group of six clergymen from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston who were defrocked by the Vatican, the archdiocese said Thursday.

The announcement comes more than 10 years after allegations surfaced that the Rev. John Connell molested a 12-year-old boy while spending a week with him in Sarasota, Fla., hotel during the mid-1970s.

Connell was the chaplain at St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers from 1984 to 1994, but was removed from the position after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

Connell may no longer act as a priest, except to offer absolution to the dying. He is no longer part of the archdiocese and is cut off from any financial support from the archdiocese, the archdiocese said in a statement.

Connell is the brother of the late multi-millionaire William Connell of Swampscott who was a significant benefactor to the Boston archdiocese. William Connell bequeathed millions of dollars to St. Mary's High School upon his death in 2001. The Connell Center is now under construction on the St. Mary's campus.

John Connell was ordained in 1965 and served as a chaplain at Harvard University from 1967-69. He was assigned to St. Mark's Parish in Dorchester from 1970-1984. It was during this time that Connell allegedly molested the boy.

He also served at parishes in Cambridge and Newton, until Cardinal Bernard Law appointed him chaplain and faculty member at St. John's Prep in 1984.

Connell's current whereabouts are unknown, but as recently as 2002, he had been assigned to the clergy personnel office in Boston.

Also defrocked were Denis Conte, Peter Frost, John Hanlon, Richard Matte and Paul David White.

The archdiocese removed Conte from ministry in 1994 after a lawyer representing a 26-year-old man alleged Conte had sexually abused him between 1979 and 1982, when the man was 11 or 12.

Frost was removed from St. Anne's Church in the Readville section of Boston in 1992 after admitting he'd sexually abused boys since the late 1960s, before he was ordained.

Hanlon was sentenced to life in prison in 1994 after being convicted of raping two altar boys while he was pastor of St. Mary's Church in Plymouth.

Matte was accused in a civil lawsuit of raping a 13-year-old boy in the 1970s while he was serving at St. Joseph's church in Pepperell. Church officials sent him for psychological assessment in 1992 and Cardinal Bernard Law recommended in 1993 that he find other work since he couldn't have contact with adolescent males.

In 1998, White was accused in a civil lawsuit of molesting an altar boy in the 1960s in Haverhill. The archdiocese settled the case.


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