Diocese Validates Claims of Abuse

By Jerry Harkavy
Associated Press, carried in Portland Press Herald [Maine]
July 4, 2005

Maine's Roman Catholic diocese Sunday validated child sexual abuse allegations against nine of 21 dead priests, saying they likely would be removed from ministry under today's standards if they were still alive.

The announcement came more than a month after the state attorney general released the names of the 21 in compliance with an order from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

The Diocese of Portland, which had opposed the release of the names, said its reversal reflected the reality of the court decision and "the inevitable news stories" arising from the public release of more than 100 pages of documents related to abuse complaints.

Media in Maine have yet to publish the complete list of names. The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, whose parent company brought the lawsuit that led to the court order, has promised to investigate each case and report on those they believe are credible.

Bishop Richard Malone's decison to publicize the names of those on the list who would likely be removed from ministry if they were alive today was made in consultation with the Diocesan Review Board, the diocese said in a statement.

"The bishop hopes this information brings a measure of justice and closure to victims and perhaps encourages others who are seeking help and healing to make a report to the diocese and/or civil authorities," the statement said.

The announcement was made Sunday to coincide with notification of the decision to the parishes, said Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese.

The nine names listed by the diocese, and the year of death, include: Monsignor Henry Boltz, 1970; the Rev. Ralph Corbeil, 1973; the Rev. John Crozier, 1990; the Rev. Antonio Girardin, 1974; the Rev. Lucien Mandeville, 1984; the Rev. Lucien McKeone, 1980; the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino, 1990; the Rev. James Vallely, 2001, and the Rev. Dominic Doyon, year of death unknown.

Of the 21 priests on the attorney general's list, 16 were assigned to the diocese and five, including Doyon, were with religious orders.

Documents linked to the allegations, including statements from the diocese, letters from victims and reports from prosecutors and lawyers, detail abuse complaints statewide dating from the 1930s to the 1970s. Some of the priests were named by a single accuser, others by as many as 13.

None of the cases ever was proven in court because the statute of limitations prevented prosecution.

"The Church has not felt comfortable with the notion of releasing the name of every person accused first and foremost because the dead cannot defend themselves, and because they no longer pose any threat to minors," the diocese said. "It certainly violates the principle of innocent until proven guilty."

Paul Kendrick, co-founder of Maine's Voice of the Faithful, asked by what standards the diocese validated the allegations. "Who's saying they can only confirm nine?" he asked.

The diocese took note of the differing levels of substantiation of the complaints and cited the difficulties of fully investigating accusations made years after a priest's death.

Many of the allegations came to the diocese or state officials during the height of the priest abuse scandal in 2002 and 2003.

Cyndi Desrosiers, a victims' advocate in Maine, said she was pleased that the diocese finally chose to publicize the names, but "I wish they had done it a long time ago."

"It would be really nice if they came forward and released the names of those priests who are still alive who have accusations against them," Desrosiers said. "That would do more to protect our children today."