Worcester Grand Jury Indicts Priest

By Linda Matchan
Boston Globe
September 17, 1992

Rev. Joseph A. Fredette, a Waltham-born priest who reportedly fled to Canada in 1974 after facing six charges of assault and battery against children in Worcester, has been indicted by a Worcester County grand jury.

Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte said in a brief statement yesterday that Fredette was charged with unnatural acts, assault and battery, contributing to the deliquency of a minor and procuring liquor for a minor.

The charges arose out of an incident in December 1973, in which Father Fredette allegedly sexually assaulted and procured liquor for a 16-year-old boy, Conte said.

At the time, Father Fredette was a priest and member of a Catholic order of the Augustinians of the Assumption, as well as the executive director of the "Come Alive" program for disadvantaged youth in Worcester. The alleged victim was a resident of this program, according to Conte's statement. The halfway house was closed in the mid 1970s.

In 1974, complaints were taken out against Father Fredette but he allegedly fled the country for New Brunswick, where he was reportedly invited to live in the rectory of St. Timothy's church in the small village of Adamsville. His assignment at the church was terminated in 1984, according to a New Brunswick church official, and since then Father Fredette, now 59, has lived quietly as leader of a small community in the nearby rural village of Jailetyville. Father Fredette is said to have left the Assumptionist order in 1983 but remained an ordained priest.

The priest's legal problems in the United States surfaced after Dana Vyska, a Pittsfield resident who had lived in the halfway house as a youth, contacted reporters and accused the priest of sexually assaulting him in New Hampshire after giving him two six packs of beer.

The matter was investigated by Detective Thomas Belezarian and other members of the Worcester Police Department. Belezarian declined to comment yesterday on where Father Fredette is.

In a telephone interview yesterday Vyska said he feels "happy and relieved" that Father Fredette has finally been indicted on the 18-year-old charges. Attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who with Boston attorney Larry Hardoon represents Vyska and one other alleged victim of the priest said yesterday it was unclear how many other youths might have been sexually molested by him. MacLeish, who also represents 70 alleged sexual abuse victims of former Massachusetts priest James R. Porter, who now lives in Minnesota, drew a parallel between the Fredette and Porter cases, and said he hoped the indictment of Fredette would hasten similar action in Bristol County, where Porter formerly lived. In both cases, he said, it is possible to stay the state's statute of limitation law, which mandates a freeze on the six-year limitations when an accused leaves the state.

It is five months since the first public allegations surfaced against Porter, and Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. has indicated that the limitations issue has posed problems in bringing charges.


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