Ex-Priest Accused of Taking Lewd Photos Faces More Allegations

By Gary V. Murray
Telegram & Gazette
January 14, 2011

WORCESTER — A former Barre priest previously convicted of taking semi-nude photographs of 10-year-old boy has been accused in a civil lawsuit of sexually assaulting another boy decades ago.

The plaintiff, identified in public court documents only as John Doe No. 801, alleges in a suit filed Oct. 14 in Worcester Superior Court that the Rev. Ronald D. Provost sexually assaulted and abused him in the priest's van on various occasions from about 1979 to about 1982. The plaintiff was between 8 and 11 years old at the time of the alleged assaults, which were said to have occurred in Worcester, according to the lawsuit.

Rev. Provost, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester and 10 unidentified individuals referred to as Michael Moe Nos. 1 through 10 were named as defendants in the suit.

The plaintiff, who is represented by Boston lawyer Carmen L. Durso, maintains he suffered severe emotional distress and has had to undergo psychological treatment and therapy. He is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

In 1993, Rev. Provost was convicted in Worcester Superior Court of soliciting a child to pose nude and received a suspended prison sentence and probation. He was found guilty of taking semi-nude photographs of a 10-year-old boy in 1992 in the locker room of a pool in Gardner.

Rev. Provost, who was the pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Barre when he took the pictures, was removed from any active ministry in the diocese after the allegations arose. Police said they seized about 100 photographs of nude and semi-nude boys from the church rectory in Barre as part of their investigation.

Prosecutors said Rev. Provost told them he sometimes took such photographs and later used them for sexual stimulation.

As a condition of his probation in the criminal case, Rev. Provost was ordered to continue with treatment at St. Luke's Institute in Maryland.

None of the defendants has yet filed an answer to the lawsuit. According to the suit, the plaintiff is identified by name in an affidavit served upon the defendants.

Up until 2008, the plaintiff "was unable to understand the damage" allegedly inflicted upon him by Rev. Provost, the suit states.

A Worcester native, Rev. Provost was ordained in 1970. In addition to being the onetime pastor of St. Joseph's, he served over the years at parishes in Northboro, Fitchburg, Worcester, Southbridge, Winchendon and Upton.

Rev. Provost did not return telephone calls today seeking comment.

Raymond L. Delisle, spokesman for the diocese, said in a prepared statement that although he could not comment on an active lawsuit, it was "important to note" that since its inception in 2002, the Office for Healing and Prevention of the Diocese of Worcester "has assisted many people who have sought professional assistance for emotional and spiritual healing as a result of abuse.

"Additionally, the professionals associated with the Office for Healing and Prevention have met with victims when claims of abuse were brought directly to the diocese and shared their experiences with the Diocesan Review Committee. That twenty-person advisory board includes members from outside of diocesan operations who are experienced in dealing with victims of child abuse in the areas of mental health, pediatrics and clinical social work as well as court-mandated offender treatment," he said.

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