|'Curran' Bridge before Council
By Keith Edwards
July 19, 2008
AUGUSTA — The city is considering whether the name of the Rev. John Curran should be removed from the Father Curran Bridge.
Rep. Patsy Crockett, D-Augusta, has asked councilors to weigh in on whether they think the bridge's name should be changed, in the wake of allegations linking the priest to sexual abuse.
Renaming the state-owned bridge ultimately would require legislative action, according to Mayor Roger Katz.
A Connecticut man who claims he was sexually abused by Curran at the age of 12 is expected Monday to ask councilors to remove Curran's name and memorial plaque from the bridge that carries traffic across the Kennebec River in downtown Augusta, according to the Maine director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
From his individual conversations with councilors, "I see that there may be some consensus emerging to recommend changing the bridge's name," Katz said.
The city also has received letters from Bishop Richard Malone, who heads the Catholic Diocese of Portland, and Patrick Boucher, president of Le Club Calumet, both in support of removing Curran's name from the bridge.
If Curran were alive today, Malone said the Diocese would have removed him from ministry pending further investigation into the allegations.
"Although Father Curran did much to improve the condition and the perception of the Franco-American community in Augusta, it is also evident that he inflicted much harm to some of the most vulnerable among us," Malone wrote. "I trust you will give this letter due consideration as you deliberate on this highly emotional and sensitive issue for the citizens of Augusta.
"For too long the voices of victims have not been heard and this is an opportunity for society to take one small step to assist in the healing of those who have been hurt," the bishop wrote.
Boucher, writing on behalf of Le Club Calumet's executive committee, said the diocese told them no further investigation into the allegations is being done because of a lack of witnesses, and because Curran died some 32 years ago.
"Although, we will never know the outcome of any investigation, and if there is any chance of truth to these allegations, there is no room for tolerance of this kind of behavior by anyone," Boucher said. "Further, we would support the removal of Father Curran's name on anything celebrating his life and achievements."
Katz said the agenda item for Monday's council meeting is Crockett's request for councilors to weigh in with their opinions on whether the bridge should be renamed.
However, he said he is aware of the Connecticut man who has asked to come speak with the council.
"I think everyone on the council appreciates the sensitivity of the issue," Katz said Friday. "We'll listen to whatever commentary comes on Monday. I think it's clear the letters from the diocese and club will play a role in this."
The Connecticut man, according to Harvey Paul, Maine director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he was sexually abused by Curran when he was a 12-year-old altar boy in Old Town.
Katz, asked for his thoughts on renaming the bridge, said he would reserve judgment until Monday's discussion.
The council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in council chambers at Augusta City Center. It will be preceded by a "pre-meeting," at 6:30 p.m., which is also open to the public.
Earlier this week, the Calumet Educational and Literary Foundation announced it was changing the name of a scholarship it has offered in Curran's name. However officials insisted it was not related to the allegations Curran sexually abused children.
The University of Maine at Augusta has also changed the name of a scholarship the college offered in Curran's name, after advocates pushed the university to do so.
Keith Edwards — 621-5647, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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