Former Altar Boys File Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

May 13, 2014

[with video]

Two former altar boys have filed a lawsuit claiming they were sexually abused by a now-deceased priest.

The lawsuit alleges Maurice Souza, a former monsignor at St. Anthony’s Parish in East Falmouth, abused the boys in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Road to Recovery, an advocacy group, is calling attention to the suit, which claims the abuse began in the 1970s, when the boys were 9 and 10 years old, and that it lasted until they were 17.

The alleged victims filed the lawsuit against the Diocese of Fall River and former Bishop Daniel Cronin, who they claim failed to protect them.

“We have two very damaged men. We want them made whole,” said Robert Hoatson, a spokesperson for the alleged victims. “If the diocese steps up and does the empathetic and sympathetic thing, we can avoid a trial.”

John Kearns, a spokesperson for the diocese, said there has never been any allegation of wrongdoing against Souza, who passed away in 1996.

“Why nothing was done or whether there was negligent supervision, nothing was brought to the attention of the diocese,” he said. “The Diocese of Fall River takes every allegation of abuse against a priest or volunteer seriously.”

The diocese offered counseling for the alleged victims and went into mediation with them last year according to Kearns, but he said it went nowhere.

“We tried to resolve it. We wanted to resolve it,” he said.

Kearns said stopping sexual abuse before it happens has been a priority since 1993, and that the Fall River Diocese has done thousands of background checks on everyone they hire who works around children.








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