Former Haverhill Priest Settles Allegations of Sexual Assault
By Keith Eddings
January 2, 2018
A priest who retired to a rectory at All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Haverhill and then to a Lawrence nursing home has reached a five-figure settlement with a man who said the priest sexually assaulted him at a Jamaica Plain parish over a three-year period, beginning when the boy was 10 years old in 1973.
The man, William Brown, who now lives in Abington, reached the settlement with Father Arnold Kelley 20 months after suing Kelley in Essex County Superior Court. His complaint accused Kelley of fondling, sodomizing and performing oral sex on him at St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Dorchester where Brown was then a parishioner and where Kelley was assigned. Brown's suit also said Kelley misrepresented “the wrongful nature of the explicit sexual behavior” so that Brown – now 54 – only recently realized he had been assaulted.
Kelley denied Brown's allegations in a response he filed in superior court. He asked Judge Thomas Drechsler to dismiss the complaint, mostly on technical grounds. Drechsler denied the motion in September.
Brown was represented by Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, whose allegations in 2002 that former priest John Geoghan was sexually assaulting children led to revelations that similar abuses were widespread in the Boston Archdiocese and that Cardinal Bernard Law was doing little to stop them while he was archbishop.
Law eventually was reassigned to Rome, where he died Dec. 20. Garabedian's role in uncovering the assaults and coverups was featured in the 2015 film “Spotlight,” about the role The Boston Globe also played in uncovering the abuses.
Brown's suit alleged that Kelley's attacks caused him significant emotional distress, leading to his drug abuse and alcoholism. He now collects Social Security Disability payments because of a disability that Garabedian said is caused at least in part by Kelley's memory of the alleged sexual attacks more than 40 years ago.
Garabedian declined a request to interview Brown on Tuesday. He said Brown asked that the amount of the settlement be described only as in the five figures, meaning it is between $10,000 and $99,000.
Garabedian is scheduled to announce the settlement at a press conference Wednesday morning outside St. Rita Church in Lowell, where Kelley was assigned in the 1980s and where Garabedian says he sexually assaulted another child.
Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a nonprofit that assists victims of sexual abuse, will join Garabedian at the press conference.
“The courage of this man to come forward to expose his abuser is important for his recovery from this abuse,” Hoatson said about Brown. “He will hopefully empower others to do the same.”
Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.
Brown was able to sue Kelley but not the church because the statute of limitations – which limits the time plaintiffs have for filing lawsuits – for churches and church supervisors expires seven years after alleged victims realize they were harmed, Garabedian said. Individuals have until they reach age of 53 to file a suit.
Kelley is now in his 80s and lives in Mary Immaculate nursing home in Lawrence.