NEWS: Men sue FR Diocese, retired bishop, alleging abuse

By Steve Klamkin
May 14, 2014

Kevin Waldrip and Robert Hoatson of “Road to Recovery” highlight the lawsuit outside offices of the Catholic Diocese of Fall River.

Two men who allege they were sexually abused as young boys by a now-deceased priest are suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River and its retired former bishop.

The two men allege in a lawsuit filed in Hartford, Connecticut that they were victims of clergy sex abuse by the late Monsignor Maurice Souza at St. Anthony’s parish in East Falmouth, Massachusetts in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Monsignor Souza died in 1996.

The suit was filed in Connecticut, which allows for a longer statue of limitations, until victims are 48 years old, said Robert Hoatson, a former priest who co-founded “Road to Recovery”, which serves survivors of sexual abuse and their families.

“The scandal of abuse was bad enough,” said Hoatson.

“What was worse, in many cases, was the cover-up and or the denial and or the enabling. And Bishop Cronin, we think did all of those things,” said Hoatson, outside a Fall River building housing offices of the Diocese where Daniel Cronin presided as Bishop for more than 20 years before being made Archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut. He has since retired.

 “There is not any mention in Monsignor Souza’s record of anyone ever 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 of Fall River.

It was on Bishop Cronin’s watch that the case of Father James Porter came to light. He was charged and convicted with sexually assaulting numerous children in the 1970’s at a diocesan-run camp in Freetown, Mass., and later died in prison.

“We have had policies in place since 1993 to address it, to respond to it, to respond to needs of the victims, to try to work it out fairly, and in fact, those policies kind of became the format later put in place by the Bishop’s Conference,” to address clergy sexual abuse, Kearns said.

Kearns added that there was an attempt to mediate the lawsuit filed on behalf of Sherwood and Andrews, which was called off by their Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is known for representing victims of clergy sexual abuse.


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