Lawyer Claims Bishop Maguire Knew of Abuse in 1976

By Father Bill Pomerleau
September 25, 2009

NORTHAMPTON – Attorney John J. Stobierski said Sept. 17 he has proof that Springfield Bishop Emeritus Joseph F. Maguire knew that then-Father Alfred C. Graves, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield at the time, was a child abuser in 1976, and put him back in ministry.

Stobierski made the claim in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Andrew Nicastro, a Williamstown man who says he was molested by Graves at the former St. Patrick Parish in Williamstown and the former St. Matthew Church in Indian Orchard from 1982 to 1984.

In his lawsuit, the lawyer says that "in approximately April 1976, Bishop Maguire was contacted by the parents of a young boy (John Doe) who had reported Father Graves molested and attempted to rape him."

The suit also claims that former Bishop Thomas L. Dupré and then priest personnel director Msgr. Richard S. Sniezyk, knew that Graves "was an admitted child molester."

Stobierski says his claim is based on documents made available to him during a past lawsuit between the diocese and its insurers.

He did not provide reporters with the documents at the press conference here. Iobserve has asked Stobierski to provide it with copies of the documents.

In a prepared statement, the diocese said, "We understand that the Diocese of Springfield has not been named as a party to this suit, which is consistent with the fact that our diocesan records have been subjected to not one but two complete external examinations – first by local law enforcement and again by our insurance carriers prior to their settlement of claims last year."

Since few clergy are affluent, nearly all lawsuits by abuse claimants are made against dioceses or religious orders and higher clergy in their capacity as corporate officials, rather than against bishops or ranking priests personally.

Nicastro, the operator of Isabella's Restaurant in North Adams, told reporters he was looking for adequate monetary compensation for the abuse he has suffered.

He said that, through therapy, he had come to understand that his past "bad behavior" was rooted in his abuse.

He said, "ironically, it was a Jesuit priest who help me come forward," alluding to Jesuit Father Mark J. Burke.

Father Burke, until recently pastor of Sts. Patrick and Raphael Parish in Williamstown, referred Nicastro last September to the diocesan review board, which found his claim credible, Nicastro said.

But, according to Nicastro, Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator Patricia McManamy refused to authorize the therapy program that Nicastro's private therapist proposed.

He added that when the diocese refused to provide him with twice a week counseling, Father Burke referred him to Stobierski.

Diocesan spokesman Mark Dupont said, "This is a delicate point, as we do not wish to violate Mr. Nicastro's privacy. However, it must be made clear that the diocese did offer, and does currently pay for, services for Mr. Nicastro.

"While there was a disagreement regarding some aspects of what was requested, we have provided assistance consistent with that which all other victims who seek this type of help have received. Any assertion that the diocese has not extended this assistance to Mr. Nicastro is patently false."

Father Burke did not immediately return a call from iobserve seeking comment.

The diocese declined further comment "on the specifics of this matter prior to a thorough review of the claim and evidence to support it."


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