Fall River Priest, Diocese Named in Abuse Lawsuit

By Nicole Gerber
May 13, 2014

FALL RIVER - A former priest from the Fall River catholic church is named in a lawsuit for sexually abusing minors. Now the Archbishop who acted as his supervisor also faces accusations of neglect and oversight.

The lawsuit has been filed in Connecticut.

Retired Archbishop of Hartford, Daniel Cronin, was the Bishop in Fall River back in the 70's and 80's while the accused priest Monsignor Maurice Souza allegedly committed countless sexual crimes against two altar boys.

The lawsuit names Cronin as the bystander who let it happen.

"He was his supervisor, and when supervisors are negligent they need to be held accountable... Someone knew in that parish, someone knew probably in the area, and probably should have stepped in and done something about it," said Robert Hoatson of Road to Recovery - a nonprofit supporting the alleged victims.

The Diocese was working with the alleged victims for several months before the lawsuit was filed in January, and says an investigation was launched into the allegations .Though they could not find support for several of the claims.

"There is not any mention in Monsignor Souza's record of anyone every bringing forth an allegation of wrongdoing or of things being unusual or people reporting things that don't seem right, nothing," said John Kearns, spokesman for the Diocese.

The lawsuit seeks $15 thousand in compensory damages, and says the boys were abused over a 10 year period, in multiple locations including the church, the priest's home and when on trips.

The lawsuit was filed in Connecticut, where some of the crimes allegedly happened, because the statute of limitations has run out in Massachusetts.

The victims did not speak today but supporters explain why it's hard to come forward.

"I'm a victim," said Kevin Waldrip, a victim advocate for Road to Recovery. "I wasn't able to speak publicly about it for over 3 years. I couldn't face anybody asking me a question about it. The trauma when you first come forward is very raw, very fresh."

In a statement Mitchell Garabedian, the lawyer representing the two men, said "in coming forward, hopefully my clients will gain a degree of closure and healing."

The two alleged victims still live in Massachusetts, and although their names are listed on the lawsuit, we have decided not to release them.

(c) WLNE-TV 2014








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