Accused Cleric Name Released

By Bill Zajac
The Republican
March 10, 2006

SPRINGFIELD - A priest who once served as the chaplain of the city's Fire Department was permanently removed from ministry in 2002 because of a credible allegation that he molested at least one minor, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

The Rev. David M. Farland was removed from ministry after U.S. bishops approved a zero tolerance policy regarding clergy sexual abuse of minors, according to the diocese.

The diocese provided the information on Wednesday after an inquiry by The Republican earlier this week.

At the time the diocese implemented the zero tolerance policy, then-Bishop Thomas L. Dupre announced that at least five priests were permanently removed from public ministry.

Four of them had been previously identified publicly. Dupre said at least one other priest was removed from ministry, but he refused to identify the priest or priests saying he wanted to maintain a balance between a person's right to privacy and the public's right to know.

"If I make a mistake, I would rather make it be on the side of a person's right to privacy," Dupre said at the time.

A year and a half later, Dupre resigned his position amid allegations of abusing two minors. He was later indicted on two child rape charges, but the charges were dropped because the allegations fell outside the criminal statute of limitations.

Farland was accused of sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1990s, according to the diocese. The matter was handled internally by his superiors who removed Farland from ministry that gave him access to minors, according to diocesan spokesman Mark E. Dupont.

Dupont said the family of the minor had agreed to the diocese's action at the time, which pre-dated the creation of a lay panel that now deals with similar allegations.

Farland, who first began working as a Fire Department chaplain in the 1970s, continued his work as a chaplain after the allegation was deemed credible and he underwent counseling.

"Until 2002, that was the recommended action in some misconduct cases," Dupont said.

The Fire Department was unaware of the credible allegation against Farland, according to department spokesman Dennis Leger.

"He served the department many years through invocations, funerals, wakes and fallen firefighter ceremonies. He responded to many tragic situations involving the department and talked to firefighters about them," Leger said.

Farland would also visit firefighters at the station and share a meal with them, Leger said.

When Farland served as pastor of St. Joseph's Parish in Pittsfield in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he became embroiled in a dispute involving a cemetery.

Farland ordered removal of plants and decorations from a diocesan cemetery and a group of Catholics subsequently sued the diocese. The court upheld Farland's action.

When the court's decision was announced in 1994, a story in the Union-News, now The Republican, stated Farland was on medical leave.

Farland, a Springfield native who was ordained in 1974 and a graduate of Cathedral High School, once served as a religion teacher at his alma mater in Springfield.

He was once assigned to Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Ludlow.

He is not listed in local telephone directories and could not be reached for comment.

Other diocesan priests who have also been removed permanently from ministry through the zero tolerance policy are the Revs. Edward M. Kennedy, Richard F. Meehan, Alfred C. Graves, Donald V. Dube, John A. Koonz and Ronald E. Wamsher.


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