Priest Steps down Following Abuse Allegation

By Ed Baker
The Weymouth News
April 5, 2010

Weymouth — A St. Francis Xavier Church priest who was reinstated to his parish duties after a judge dismissed abuse allegations against him four years ago has voluntarily stepped down after a man charged that he was sexually abused by the priest at a Milton church nearly 40 years ago.

The Rev. Charles J. Murphy serves as director of the deaf apostolate for the parish. He relinquished his ministry obligations last week.

Archdiocese spokesman Terrance Donilon was not available when the News called on April 5, but a spokeswoman said in a published report that the Rev. Murphy agreed to refrain from ministry while archdiocese officials investigate the allegation.

“The Archdiocese of Boston received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor,” Kelly Lynch said. “Upon receiving the allegation, the archdiocese immediately notified civil authorities of the accusation. Further, the archdiocese initiated an investigation into this matter. As a result of the investigation made, Father Murphy has voluntarily agreed to refrain from public ministry.”

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian said that his client claims that the Rev. Murphy abused him at the age of 14 or 15 on four occasions when he attended St. Agatha’s Church in Milton during the 1970s.

“Two incidents occurred inside a rectory bathroom or church restroom,” Garabedian told the News. “Another incident occurred at Paragon Park in Hull and on a bus trip to a ski resort.”

Garabedian said that his client reported the abuse allegations to him last year and might seek a civil suit against the archdiocese. .

Four years ago in a civil suit, a Rockland woman accused the Rev. Murphy of sex abuse when she attended the former Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph during the 1970s, but a Suffolk Superior Court judge dismissed the allegations in April, 2006.

“My client was a speech impaired person and because of communication difficulties, the civil suit could not proceed,” Garabedian said.

The Rev. Murphy was serving as director of counseling at the Boston School for the Deaf when the woman attended classes there.

He was among 13 nuns and a priest who were named in a suit filed by Garabedian on behalf of 18 former students who attended the school between 1947 and 1977.

The students claimed that the staff abused them physically or sexually or were in a position to stop the abuse.

Most of the abuse claims were dismissed by a judge or withdrawn by the students.

The Rev. Murphy’s attorney, Timothy P. O’Neill of Boston, said in a 2006 story in the News that the allegations against his client were dismissed because there was no evidence to support the charges.

In an interview with the News four years ago, Garabedian said that a legal technicality prevented the suit from going forward.

An archdiocese review board declared that the charges against the Rev. Murphy could not be substantiated, and he was cleared to return to ministry without restrictions a short time later.

Garabedian said that his client is suffering emotionally because of the abuse, but he prays for the Rev. Murphy.

“My client feels that Father Murphy should step aside so that the world will be a safe place for children,” Garabedian said. “My client should be proud of himself for speaking up and thereby empowering other victims of clergy sex abuse.”

Garabedian said that his client hopes that the archdiocese will monitor the Rev. Murphy’s whereabouts while he is under investigation.

“Although Father Murphy is not involved in ministry, my client hopes that archdiocese officials will watch him so that children will remain safe,” Garabedian said.

The allegations against the Rev. Murphy surprised some parishioners.

“Him to hurt a kid—it’s not in his making,” said Matt Burne, who said that he has known the Rev. Murphy for 25 years, in a WCVB interview. “He’s a good man, and he’s been wrongly accused. That’s a shame.”

Parishioner Leslie Chiatosso told the Boston Channel that the controversy surrounding the Catholic Church with respect to sex abuse allegations is upsetting and disturbing.

“I do feel the Pope should step down, but that doesn’t make me not want to bring my son to church on Easter,” she said. “I think it’s still the right thing.”


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