Ashfield Man Pushes for Laicization of Xavarian Priest

By Father Bill Pomerleau
June 25, 2008

SPRINGFIELD An Ashfield man, supported by the local chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), called a press conference outside the chancery of the Diocese of Springfield to call for the laicization of a religious priest who he said sexually molested him when he was a seminarian in the 1980s.

William J. Nash, who grew up in Westfield's Blessed Sacrament Parish, told news media June 24 that within two weeks of entering the Xavarian seminary in Franklin, Wis., Father James Tully "spent most of an evening groping me and sitting on me.

"He later barged into my room and exposed himself," Nash said.

Nash also recounted how several months later, as a 21-year-old Xavarian novice, he was groped in the back seat of a car by a drunken Father Tully.

Nash told no one outside of the religious order about his alleged experiences until 1998, when he contacted then-Xavarian Provincial Father Robert Maloney. After several years of informal negotiations, the order hired an attorney in 2002 to negotiate a mediated settlement of an abuse claim against the Xavarians.

Nash, who was represented by Attorney John Stobierski of Greenfield, settled for $75,000.

Father Tully was also accused of sexually molesting a parishioner at St. Brendan Parish in Bellingham, Mass., in 1970. The alleged victim was among the 552 individuals who received settlements from the Archdiocese of Boston in 2003.

Father Tully also pled no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct in 1990 for providing beer and wine coolers to three minors he took to a baseball game at County Stadium in Milwaukee. He did not contest the charge that he had also grabbed the thigh of one of the boys.

After treatment at the Institute for Living in Hartford, Conn., Father Tully became a missionary in Liberia and Sierre Leone. After being evacuated from the latter war-torn African country, he was transferred to Rome and Vincenza, Italy, where he has worked in clerical positions for his community.

After putting letters to the Vatican's Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Pope Benedict XVI in an Elliot Street mailbox, Nash left a letter for Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell asking for his support in having Father Tully laicized.

He told reporters that despite assurances given to him by the Xavarians, he believes Father Tully is still in active ministry, and potentially a danger to children.

Father Carl Chudy, the U.S. provincial for the community, told iobserve that his order's residence in Vincenza is primarily a residence for retired priests. He said that it was his understanding that the priest was no longer in active ministry.

Commenting on the press event on Elliot Street, Mark E. Dupont, spokesman for the Springfield Diocese said, "Certainly we would extend to Mr. Nash the services of our Counseling, Prevention and Victim Services office. But the disposition of Father Tully is a matter that must be resolved by the Xavarian order in communication with the Vatican.

"By hosting this media event outside our diocesan offices, SNAP misrepresents this situation and perhaps confuses the public into thinking that this priest is present in our diocese and under our authority which is most certainly not the case," Dupont said. "We encourage SNAP to show better judgment and avoid such misleading events in the future."


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