Man's Suit Alleges Priest Molested Him 18 Years Ago

By D. Morgan McVicar
Providence Journal-Bulletin
February 10, 1996

A Cranston man has filed suit in Superior Court alleging he was sexually molested as a boy by the Rev. Roland Lepire, a Roman Catholic priest at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Coventry.

The suit, filed by Michael Dooley, 29, alleges that Father Lepire molested him, and that the diocese was aware the priest committed sexual misconduct but did nothing to stop it.

Besides the priest, the suit names as defendants the Diocese of Providence, Bishop Louis E. Gelineau, former Auxiliary Bishop Kenneth A. Angell, St. Mary Church in Cranston and Americo Lapati, the former pastor of St. Mary, who is now deceased.

The suit alleges that in 1978, when Dooley was 11 or 12 and Father Lepire was an assistant priest at St. Mary, he was continually and repeatedly sexually molested and assaulted at various locations within the church and rectory.

The suit also alleges that Father Lapati was made aware of the abuse, and that the defendants "deliberately sought to cover up" the abuse.

Dooley, the suit states, began psychotherapy last year and is still in therapy. Last November, Dooley contacted Father Lepire "to discuss what happened between them," Dooley's lawyer, Timothy J. Conlon, said. "Father Lepire was willing to meet with my client as soon as possible to discuss this."

"Within 24 hours, Lepire contacted my client and canceled the meeting. Father Lepire indicated to my client that representatives of the bishop had forbidden him to speak to my client," Conlon said.

An interview with Dooley about his allegations was aired on Channel 10 Thursday night. Yesterday, lawyers for the diocese subpoenaed videotape footage and notes relating to the interview.

A statement from the diocese said that late last year, it became aware of a Rhode Island State Police investigation of a complaint of sexual misconduct against Father Lepire.

The diocese, in a statement, said that a former Massachusetts State Police lieutenant, Robert McCarthy, "the investigator in these matters" for Bishop Gelineau, contacted Conlon, Dooley's lawyer, and asked if he could speak with Dooley "to initiate an internal investigation."

"To date, Conlon has not yet responded to McCarthy's request, and we have received no additional information about the nature or seriousness of the complaint.

"In the absence of any other complaints against the priest and a lack of details about the nature and credibility of this charge, Father Lepire has continued as pastor at St. Vincent de Paul" but has been placed on administrative leave, the statement said.

"We hope that the alleged victim will now speak with McCarthy, which will greatly assist in our investigation."


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