Man Claims Former Dover Priest Raped, Infected Him

By Aaron Sanborn
Foster's Daily Democrat
April 9, 2008

PORTSMOUTH — A former Dover priest is at the center of a $130 million civil suit against the Diocese of Manchester.

A former Seacoast man claims the diocese was negligent in allowing an HIV-infected cleric to be a head priest, a position that ultimately gave the priest the opportunity to rape the victim.

The suit, filed by Daniel M. Brown, of Key West, Fla., was sent to the Hillsborough County Superior Court earlier this month and was on file Tuesday, according to a court clerk.

Brown sent a copy of the suit along with accompanying documents related to the investigation to Foster's.

In the $130 million suit, Brown claims the diocese and New Hampshire Bishop John McCormack were negligent for allowing the priest to be head priest at St. Mary Parish in Dover.

Brown had originally filed the suit in March, but it was sent back to him because he didn't include the address of the diocese on it. In the first suit, Brown had asked for $30 million dollars, but increased the amount by $100 million in the new suit after consulting with an attorney.

"I was told it was probably in my best interest to raise my damages because of potential fees and tax ramifications," Brown said.

Because of the speculative nature of civil suits, Foster's has chosen not to name the priest in Brown's suit at this time.

Brown claims the priest was an open homosexual, drug user and infected with HIV, and the negligence of the diocese led to him being raped by the priest in Portsmouth at an apartment the priest lived at on Cabot Street with two other men. Brown claims the rape caused him to get HIV.

The priest died in 1987 of HIV, according to a copy of a Massachusetts death certificate that was sent with the suit.

In 2002, Brown and his former attorney Peter Hutchings entered into mediation with the diocese relating to a class-action lawsuit. He received a group settlement of $490,000. Brown says he was seeking $2,250,000 and claims he was "coerced" into taking that settlement.

"The emotional, physical, psychological, and financial damages suffered by the plaintiff due to Diocese negligence have been catastrophic, including loss of enjoyment of life," Brown wrote in the suit, which he filed pro se.

After the initial group settlement, Brown hired Kroll, a risk consulting company, to conduct a private investigation and is hoping to recoup some of the money he spent in investigating the matter.

"Quite frankly, what went on with him, it really screwed my head up for a long time," Brown said. "I was raised Catholic and that you trust a priest, but I learned at 16 that basically Satan walks around as a priest in Portsmouth."

The diocese is denying Brown's claims.

"It is the practice and policy of the Diocese of Manchester to respond with concern to anyone who reports having been hurt by church personnel," said Brian Quirk, attorney for the Diocese of Manchester. "The lawsuit filed by Mr. Brown contains allegations that are completely without merit. We are confident the lawsuit will be dismissed."

The alleged rape occurred in 1977, according to Brown. Brown said he had seen the priest hanging around Portsmouth and knew that his neighbor was a friend of his. The night of the rape Brown said he received a ride from the priest and went to his apartment.

"Once I was there, I was drugged to the point that I was unconscious," he said.

Brown began experiencing his HIV symptoms in the late 1980s, and said he's certain the priest infected him with the disease because it can take several years for the disease to develop and after the alleged assault he was only in one relationship, in which he said he practiced safe sex with a man who wasn't infected.

According to multiple taped interview depositions conducted by Kroll, portions of which are included below, the priest would seduce boys by offering them drugs and often frequented two gay bars in the city.

"(He) was purported to be very aggressive toward attempting to pick up young men in the clubs," according to a man who knew the priest.

The priest's former roommate described him "as a mastermind of seduction."

"He knew, how, what and where. He knew exactly how to entice and seduce. I've never bumped into anyone since that was even up to that, never mind that good at it. He was good at it."

The former roommate also said, "If there is a devil on earth, he's it."

That same roommate also claimed the priest once performed oral sex on him and gave him a drug before doing so.

A former parishioner at St. Mary's said the priest was only at the Dover church a short time during the 1970s before moving on to a parish in Derry. She said the priest was friendly with her family and she had him over for dinner on a few occasions. He also helped her children on multiple occasions.

"He tried to help them, give them rides if they were drunk from parties," she said.

Brown said the purpose of this suit is to hopefully recover the expenses he's incurred since the incident, both medical and legal, which have cost him his home and forced him to move into a subsidized apartment.

"I don't think I'm being unreasonable, basically my life was taken from me when I was 16," he said.



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.