Diocese Says Man Can't Sue for $130m

By Aaron Sanborn
Foster's Daily Democrat
April 29, 2008

PORTSMOUTH — The Diocese of Manchester has filed a sealed motion attempting to dismiss a $130 million civil suit against it, claiming a former Dover priest raped and infected a man with HIV.

The former Seacoast man who filed the suit, Daniel M. Brown, of Key West, Fla., provided Foster's with the motion, which is sealed at Hillsborough County Superior Court. Earlier this month, Brown filed a $130 million suit alleging the diocese and Bishop John McCormack were negligent for allowing the priest to be head priest at St. Mary Parish in Dover.

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

In the motion to dismiss, diocese attorney Brian Quirk says Brown is banned from pursuing the lawsuit because he had already entered into a settlement with the diocese in September 2003 and references an agreement Brown entered into where Brown "terminated with prejudice his claims regarding Father Houle."

"It is well-established law that once a legal claim is settled a Plaintiff may not reallege the same conduct in a subsequent lawsuit," Quirk wrote in the suit. "To do so would render settlement discussions and subsequent agreements, such as the instant one, meaningless."

In the $490,000 settlement agreement Brown signed on Sept. 10, 2003, he agreed to "forever discharge the Diocese of Manchester from any further liability with respect to his claims concerning Father Houle."

When reached on Friday afternoon, Quirk wouldn't comment about the motion or past settlement with Brown.

Brown prepared a motion asking the court to dismiss both Quirk's motion to dismiss and seal. Brown's motion had yet to be filed at the court as of Monday.

Brown continues to claim he was coerced into taking his previous settlement, saying diocese officials lied about the cause of Houle's death during settlement mediations. Brown later hired a private investigation firm to obtain Houle's death certificate, which verified Houle died in 1987 of HIV.

There are about 450 other documents Brown says he'll provide to the court to prove he was coerced into taking the deal.

Brown said the alleged rape occurred in 1977. Brown said he received a ride from the priest the night of the rape and went to his apartment, where he was drugged and raped.

Brown said he 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.

In the current suit, Brown claims the diocese was negligent in allowing an HIV-infected cleric to be a head priest, a position that ultimately gave Houle the opportunity to rape him.

Houle was only at the Dover church a short time during the 1970s before moving on to a parish in Derry.


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