Priest Cleared of Sex Abuse in 2006 Faces New Charges

April 4, 2010

MASSACHUSETTS -- A Catholic priest in Weymouth who was cleared of sex abuse charges by the Boston Archdiocese four years ago and reinstated at his church has voluntarily stepped down after a second person came forward last week and accused him of abuses four decades ago.

The Boston Archdiocese said it learned of the new charges against the Rev. Charles J. Murphy just over one week ago and contacted civil authorities. In a statement released to NewsCenter 5, the Archdiocese said that it has launched its own investigation into the allegations and Murphy has voluntarily stepped aside from his ministry at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Weymouth during the investigation.

Murphy is listed as director of deaf apostolate on the church's Web site.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that a 53-year-old man accused Murphy of sexually abusing him over the course of a year at St. Agatha Parish in Milton in the early 1970s. The man's attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said that the abuse started when his client was 14, in places including the church rectory.

Rev. Murphy was also named in a 2004 civil suit brought by former students of the Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph. The Patriot Ledger reported that a Rockland woman accused Rev. Murphy of molesting her as a young girl when he was director of counseling at the school in the 1970s.

The lawsuit also included another priest and 13 nuns who allegedly abused 18 students physically and sexually or were in a position to stop the abuses between 1944 and 1977. All of the abuse claims were later either withdrawn or dismissed, the paper reported, and the Archdiocese lifted all restrictions against Rev. Murphy on April 11, 2006, after an internal review board found that the charges lacked validity.

Garabedian also represented the plaintiffs in the 2004 lawsuit. When the charges against Rev. Murphy were dismissed, he told the Patriot Ledger that the case was lost on a technicality, and that Murphy's accuser was not backing down from her allegations of sexual abuse at the school.

At St. Francis Xavier Parish on Sunday, some parishioners who showed up for the Easter service were unsettled by the new allegations against Rev. Murphy. Others, however, said that the elderly priest is innocent of the charges being leveled against him.

"Him, to hurt a kid -- it's not in his making," said Matt Burne, who said he has known Rev. Murphy for 25 years. "He's a good man and he's been wrongly accused. That's a shame."

"[The controversy surrounding the Catholic church] is very upsetting and it's very disturbing, and I do feel that the Pope should step down," said parishioner Leslie Chiatosso, "but that doesn't make me not want to bring my son to church on Easter. I think it's still the right thing."


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